The Curious Case of David Allen

Casinos.  Takeaway food.  Horse racing.  All can be vices of the average man on the street, yet that same man  won’t be boxing Olympians and prospective world champions. 
 
David Allen has boxed in the upper echelons of the sport.  Men who by rights, he shouldn’t have even been considered to share a ring with.  Those circumstances perhaps may be of his own making; needing the money at short notice or an escape from day-to-day mundanity.  There is also the ‘what if’ scenario, where if only takes the one shot to make a difference and his desire to take an opportunity.  
 
Dillian Whyte, Luis Ortiz, Tony Yoka.  Three names that either now or in 24 months will be at the top of the heavyweight division, making their own claims for a shot at the world title.  All of them have handed losses to Allen.  So too Lenroy Thomas in one of two attempts at a Commonwealth title.  Those losses hold no embarrassment.  Perhaps regret, in the case of Lenroy Thomas, that the first encounter didn’t see the potential best of David Allen. 
 
Yet there has been a consistent theme when discussing David Allen over the years.  A pocket of social media fans that criticise the conditioning of Allen, the physique when it comes to fight night.  The fact that here stands a man who is getting opportunities to achieve yet failing to turn up in the right shape to do so.  Taking the spot of more deserving contenders, based on his ability to draw interest through social media while putting the all-important bums on seats and selling additional Pay-Per-Views.  More well known for banter than boxing.
 
Those same criticisms arose before Saturday night.  Those same people who were unhappy with Allen’s appearance on the scales, here getting an eliminator for the British title against Nick Webb who himself is a two times ABA finalist.  Some said Allen shouldn’t be in the fight at all, having only a little over a month ago been stopped by Olympic gold medallist Tony Yoka in Paris.  But David Allen turned up.  Not a performance that will go down in history, but a performance that pulled people from their sofas.
 
Three rounds that opened the door for the criticisms to surface.  Allen again appeared in sparring partner mode, walking down but not attacking.  In the fourth round though he unleashed a right hand that gave Nick Webb his first professional defeat.  It left him hanging from the ropes as Allen tore off in an outburst of emotion that culminated in the Doncaster man weeping in the ring, in front of the thousands in attendance and those watching at home. 
 
That win meant everything.  Pre-fight talk of retirement if he lost, people were questioning once again if the mentality was correct.  Leave the physical condition aside, was he even in the fight to win?  A huge underdog with bookmakers and the familiar signs of not taking the fight seriously enough (photos of larking about with Webb in fight week).  
That right hand changed it all though.  The winner of Saturday night was promised a win bonus by Promoter Eddie Hearn, on top of a healthy purse to recompense for the short notice addition to the card.  As he took the familiar seat for a post-fight interview, perched by the canvas, you could see what it meant as if a weight were lifted from his shoulders.
 
The voice broke as he told viewers it was a “life changing moment right there”.  Suddenly the White Rhino was akin to a teenager realising his octaves were changing as he spoke.  It was all coming out as the crowd showed their appreciation.  As he thanked himself for “being the man I am” people laughed, including the interviewer.  But the light-hearted remark was doused in serious tones. 
 
Many would have given up long before now.  Serious battles with depression have plagued Allen outside of the ring.  Internal struggles between staying in the sport versus finding a new vocation.  Although he has a strong following on social media, for every 9 tweets of support he receives you can be sure there is one that questions his heart, his desire or what he is doing in the ring.  Some do so in a way that would test even the thickest skinned of people.
 
Of course there is the argument that ‘if you can’t handle it, get off social media’.  But social media is what has helped open the doors for Allen.  Were he not the likeable personality that shines through in his 280 characters, then there is every chance he would be selling tickets on the small hall scene.  Is it right that he gets the chances on big shows in place of a more naturally talented boxer?  Perhaps not.  But in a sport that is increasingly a business, the attraction of having David Allen on a card does not get missed by the biggest of Promoters.
 
“In one sense I am mentally weak.  Very, very weak.  But in another, in this situation in a ring, I will never ever stop”.  The voice had returned and his composure alongside it.  The looming retirement has been postponed as new chapters open up.  A potential run at a British title is on the cards.  To do so he may find that he has to get through a Dubois, Gorman or Joyce.  Of course the odds would once again be against him and the doubters will return.  ‘He’s only done it once’ is an inevitable conclusion that some observers will make.
 
Perhaps that is the case.  Perhaps that will always be the case.  But it would have taken a bitter person to begrudge David Allen his success of Saturday night.  As he accelerated around the ring with the smile of an excited adolescent, only the cruelest would have felt anything but happy for him.  The average man on the street can relate to that struggle.  It is all one step at a time for Allen but for now, he has taken a giant leap. 
 
He has spoken of how boxing has now helped him save the deposit for a house.  He is a success story, irrespective of the titles and the losses.  Those losses have come at the top level or for major titles.  For now, the question marks of hunger and desire can subside as Allen promises to take the sport more seriously for the next phase of his career.  Only in time can we judge that, but for now, the win bonus can help the 26 year old make a move onto the housing ladder while he waits to see what step his Manager, perhaps with the assistance of Matchroom, can take him to next.