March 2, 2018
March 2, 2018
Dave Allen

Action Images/Reuters/Ed Sykes

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DAVE ALLEN, ‘The White Rhino’, has sparred some of the world’s best heavyweights, including Anthony Joshua, Luis Ortiz, Dillian Whyte and Tyson Fury. he also has a cult following, the backing of Sky and Eddie Hearn and an engaging, unique personality. What he hasn’t got yet though, is a professional title.

Come March 3 he intends to put that right in a rematch with Jamaica’s Lenroy Thomas. Allen aims to become the Commonwealth heavyweight champion and spoke to Boxing News about the fight and the changes he has made that he believes will win him the title.

When it comes to preparation, Allen is certain he’s got it right this time. “It’s never gone better,” he tells Boxing News. “This is the first time I’ve gone into a fight and I’m fit. In the past I’ve always kind of gone in hoping for the best where this time I know I’m ready and I am ready. This is as good as I can be. [On Saturday] it’ll be the best I can be, there’s no regrets whatsoever, whatever happens next week.”

After famously taking a fight against one of the world’s top heavyweights, Luis Ortiz, on short notice and also losing to Dillian Whyte in similar circumstances, Allen claims to have reinvented himself. The Doncaster fighter has dispensed with the belly that accompanied him into the aforementioned high profile bouts and now boasts a heavyweight physique to be proud of. Allen explained his new regime: “I’ve done more running than I’ve ever done, since I was boxing amateur. We’re going back into the training I did five or six years ago, I used to run every day, I used to run and run and get myself fit. I couldn’t box but I was fit. I’ve learned to box over the years though through sparring in various world class camps [against AJ and Tyson Fury among others]. So now hopefully we’re going to put that experience with the new-found fitness we’ve regained. My love for boxing has never been stronger.”

Allen believes this fitness will pay off on March 3 and allow him to execute his come-forward style with more skill, style and consistency. The Rhino believes speed could be the key to claiming the Commonwealth belt as he explains his take on his Jamaican opponent:

“Lenroy Thomas fights more like a cruiserweight. He’s sharp, he moves, he puts little punches together, but he isn’t the strongest fighter in the world. I’ve brought my own weight down to keep up with that speed and his work-rate when he lets his punches go. I’ve been sparring with a lot of fighters for speed. A lot of cruiserweights and fast good moving heavyweights.”

It’s not just a new faster frame that the Yorkshireman hopes can take him to the top though, it’s a new mindset. “I’ve lived a very interesting life, the first twenty-five years of my life have been very… colourful”, says Allen, fishing for the correct word.

Having overcome a gambling addiction and, at his lowest ebb, attempted to take his own life, Dave Allen has emerged from his troubles a stronger man. He described how the latest iteration of The White Rhino has taken on a new psychological robustness:

“It’s took me twenty-five years to get to know myself. I know myself now. I know how I click. I know what works for me. It just took twenty-five years to do that but I’ve done that now and I’m in a good frame of mind. I’ve got a lot of good things going on. I’ve got myself busy, got myself in a good routine. That’s how I feel and that’s why I’ve finally got myself in correct shape. Everything just literally couldn’t be better.”

Having re-found his fitness and, perhaps, found his sense of self, Allen seems more dangerous than ever. After a messy first bout in which Allen admits he wasn’t fit enough, he’s hoping to give his fans something to celebrate in the re-match come Saturday night.

Dave Allen

“I just wasn’t fit last time. After three of four rounds I knew I wasn’t having a good night. I thought I was going to bully him and knock him out. I thought he’d bottle it but to be fair to him he stood up to it.” The plan is different this time around though, and Allen hopes to deliver his aggressive style in faster, slicker fashion. “A win is all I want by any means necessary. I’m lucky in one way that people don’t really have high expectations of me so I don’t have to out there and try and win in a round. I want to win and that is it.”

The White Rhino’s self-belief is back with a vengeance though and he’s “a hundred percent confident” of defeating Lenroy Thomas: “If he was British he’d be around the British champion level, no better, no worse, that’s what he is. If I see myself going beyond British title level I have to beat him.”

While refusing to look too far past the encounter, Allen astutely realises just how important a win on Saturday could be for his career. “If I win the Commonwealth title there’s the British title. I either go for the British title or I go for a big name, for a big fight, one or the other,” he says. Allen couldn’t contain a hint of optimism and a seemingly accidental pun, when he added: “If you’re the Commonwealth champion, with Eddie backing you, the sky’s the limit.”