THE slightest talking point can become a full-blown scandal when opinions gather and multiply on social media. A recent case in point occurred after heavyweight David Allen’s third round victory over Dorian Darch in Sheffield, which was broadcast by Sky Sports on the undercard of Kell Brook’s comeback win over Mark De Luca.
Within moments of the finish there were suggestions online that Darch – with the help of Allen – had thrown the fight due to the manner in which he was counted out: He rose from his back to a sitting position where he appeared to make the decision that enough was enough. By Monday afternoon, the fight was being investigated by the Gambling Commission, who will in turn inform the British Boxing Board of Control of their findings, after it emerged that a high number of bets had been placed on the third round finish.
Further ‘evidence’: While providing the commentary for Sky Sports, Andy Clarke revealed moments after the opening bell that he had spotted Allen and Darch having breakfast together on the morning of the fight; there was barely any action in rounds one and two; replays appear to show Darch shaking his head and inviting Allen to ‘come on’ shortly after he’s hurt from a left hook in the third. The suggestion being that the Welshman, after concocting the plan with his rival in the fight hotel, then went through the motions with Allen for the opening six minutes, before instructing his opponent to summon another solid whack so he could go over and make it look legitimate.
While I’d be naïve to dismiss the possibility completely, I am struggling to believe that the fix was in. Allen was having his first fight since not only losing to David Price seven months ago but being hospitalised due to the one-sided hammering he took. After taking some time to consider his future behind the scenes, he made no secret of his desire to go a few rounds in his comeback bout, not only to shake off the cobwebs but also to test his own body. Therefore, the lacklustre nature of the first two rounds, as Allen moved around the ring, monitoring his own reactions and staying out of harm’s way, should be perfectly understandable.
The finish also looked legitimate to me. Allen has been known to coast through rounds in the past. Perhaps with that in mind, his trainer, Jason Shinfield, sternly told his charge to step up a few gears ahead of the third round.
It should also be noted that in the second, Darch, who was already showing signs of fatigue, shook his head after eating a forceful jab. That he did so again in round three – after taking a hefty right hand (the effect of which was immediately recognised by Clarke’s co-commentator Matt Macklin), body shots and a left hook – should only speak of the force of Allen’s punches; it’s the biggest ‘tell’ in boxing when a fighter indicates the punch they’ve just swallowed didn’t hurt (because it did).
The final blows, accurate hooks to Darch’s head, appeared strong and it’s not uncommon for a boxer, particularly one at Dorian’s level, to stay down for the count of 10 rather than get up and take an unnecessary hammering. The truth might be that Darch’s desire was waning, yet no one should criticise a boxer for realising enough is enough against a superior fighter.
We should also look at who was making the claims about the ‘fix’. According to our reporter, Ron Lewis, nobody at ringside considered the finish suspicious. Only those watching on television thought it appeared dodgy. Only those, then, who had heard Andy Clarke report that the pair had shared breakfast and started to form a narrative in their mind. For those who don’t know, fight hotels are a hive of activity, opponents often come face to face within them, and it would be a ludicrously public place to discuss a plan like this.
However, any notion of foul play in the sport should be investigated. Boxing News awaits the decisions of the Gambling Commission and the British Boxing Board of Control before commenting further, and urge anyone using social media as a platform to insult the integrity of boxers, without any evidence of wrongdoing, to do the same.