EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW – DAVE ALLEN – TAKING THE JOHNNY NELSON ROUTE

I first came across Dave in 2014 when we conducted an interview on 4c Sports Media. I like many others had warmed to his approachable nature and sarcastic humour. At the time Dave was in a minor contract dispute with Dennis Hobson and had recently left the Team Fury camp in Bolton.

After a couple of frustrating years for Allen, he was thrust into the limelight as a last minute opponent for Dillian Whyte followed by Luis Ortiz. The calls of “he’s a bum” and “he’s fat” bellowed out of social media. Despite all this Allen’s stock had risen considerably. Using his own form of self-promotion via twitter as his tool to show boxing fans his wit and humour, along with calling out any heavyweight he could think of.

When interviewing Allen between a defeat to Dillian Whyte and the announcement of the Luis Ortiz fight, he told me “I’m taking the Johnny Nelson route, I don’t mind losing at this stage of my career that much. You look at other fighters on the verge of World titles and they haven’t fought anybody decent. What have they learnt knocking over tin cans?” This was in response to me asking was it too early to take on such seasoned high level opposition.

Since that time Dave Allen has been taken under the wing of Eddie Hearn, investing in Allen for having the balls to jump in the deep end against some of Hearn’s top heavyweights. His reward was a Commonwealth title shot against Lenroy Thomas at Brammell Lane. Sadly Allen lost a close fight on points; however Eddie Hearn has delivered the rematch for Allen on the Joshua VS Pulev under-card in Cardiff.

“It was a close fight! But if I had to choose I would’ve picked Lenroy. He landed the cleaner shots. But if he thinks he’s getting the same Dave Allen as last time, he’s in for the shock of his life! I’ve never been in such great shape!”

Allen’s physique especially for the Ortiz fight was highly ridiculed, with Allen effectively training part time. Things have taken a dramatic turn and Allen’s figure is more athletic and is finally dedicating himself full time to a sport that has graced the last three generations of the Allen family.

“I am a professional now and realised a long time ago I have to start acting like it! I am up at 7am every morning to head down to the track with Mick (Marsden) acting like a proper athlete.”

Mick Marsden who guided Stuart Hall to a World title is going for third time lucky with Dave Allen. Allen who has had brief periods with Peter Fury, Stefy Bull and Dominic Ingle looks to have gone back to where he belongs. Allen considers “Uncle Mick” a friend ahead of a trainer. From what Allen tells me, the relationship between the pair resembles that of Uncle and Nephew rather than boss and employee.

“On the 7am track sprints I’ll be completely honest with you. He (Mick Marsden) pisses me off! He stands there with his stupid fucking woolly hat telling me to go faster. But I get upset because I just can’t go any faster because we are working so hard. Me and Mick are very close though, it’s not like many trainer/fighter relationships. Until recently we were just friends and he would help me out with a bit of pad work and advice. I call him Uncle Mick which should tell you everything. When I realised I need a full time trainer, we sat down and met in the middle on all aspects. Mick respects my opinion on boxing, as I do his. Everything being done is on mine and Micks terms. But as you know I can be a pain in the arse to work with. But Mick knows me inside out; I don’t think it would work with many other fighters and trainers. A lot of trainers are like the boss at work. Me and Uncle Mick? He understands me, but it took years to get here.”

Allen’s obvious professionalisation of his boxing career is down to a small handful of people. Dave’s father was also a fighter in his past and was sadly diagnosed with cancer recently. It may have also contributed to Allen’s recent urgency to get his career on the right path. When I question Allen on the subject of why he’s taken things more serious than before, he tells me.

“I think I’m finally growing up! I realised there is more to life than just being the boy. Now I am ready to be a man. It finally hit a few months back; I have the opportunity of a life time to be Commonwealth champion and can then move onto the British title. I can be a superstar me. Talking to my Dad, who’s not been well, told me this is my last chance and to stop fucking around. Dad’s not somebody who minces his words. I then started to think; what the fuck am I doing? I’m just throwing away the opportunity of a lifetime away for a burger and a few laughs. Things had to change. You wouldn’t put sunflower oil in a Ferrari would you? “

Eddie Hearn was very critical of Dave Allen after his defeat to Lenroy Thomas in Sheffield. Dave being grateful to his ever expanding fan-base, took the streets of Sheffield on the day of his fight to take pictures and selfies with fans. Responding to whether or not Hearn’s criticism was warranted? He calmly tells me.

“I thought it was fair and he said those things to me personally, so I was cool with it and I respected that, as I did let slip a great opportunity. I like people and I owe the fans who support me a lot. I am a bit eccentric, but to change completely would be the wrong move. But this time I will have Mick with me the whole of fight week to keep me in line. I’m not changing. I’m just being me at the right times.”

Eddie Hearn showed us another example of “365 days a year promoting” for his fighters when offering up Dave Allen as an opponent for Hughie Fury in the near future, during an interview with James Helder of IFL TV. However whilst being open minded to a fight with Hughie Fury, Allen clearly had only one opponent in his mind.

“Firstly I made the mistake of looking past Lenroy Thomas in the first fight. He’s the only fighter in my mind at the moment. It would be stupid to make the same mistake twice. After Thomas, I’ll be Commonwealth champion and I can finally have some say in my opponents. Once Thomas is out of the way, I’m sure Hughie Fury is an option. You’ll know I’ll fight anybody!”

Allen is regular sparring partner of undefeated Nathan Gorman. Having spoken to Allen previously about the Manchester based heavyweight, Allen told me.

“Me and Nathan spar quite a bit. He’s very good and has a bright future. We’ve become very good friends. However a fight between me and Nathan for the British title could be fantastic fight in a couple of years time. It would be a great build up with two young fighters ready to give everything.”

At 25, Allen could be considered an infant amongst most heavyweight fighters. With the backing of Matchroom and Eddie Hearn, Dave Allen has a big role to play in the division one way or another.

Adam Noble-Forcey
@Adam4cSports