Dave Allen searching for fresh start under Jamie Moore but wants David Price rematch at Matchroom Fight Camp
While the coronavirus pandemic has put sporting dreams on hold for an abundance of athletes worldwide, Dave Allen’s career has potentially been offered a lifeline.
Following a stoppage defeat to British rival David Price in July of last year, Allen bounced back with a knockout victory over Dorian Darch in February, in a fight he was hoping would be the first stop on his comeback trail.
The Doncaster-born heavyweight had been preparing to feature in one of two mouth-watering cards set to steal the headlines in 2020, hoping victory would propel him towards one last chance of glory.
“I was going to fight either on the Dillian Whyte vs Alexander Povetkin card or the Dereck Chisora vs Oleksandr Usyk card,” Allen told Standard Sport.
“At the time I was 27 – I’ve turned 28 since - and I thought ‘I'm going to give myself one last chance to get fit and have a go'. If I won, I would have been on to bigger and better things. If I lost, that would have been it.
“If the world was normal, by now I would have either been retired or on the cusp of a massive fight.”
Allen’s preparations were halted, however, with boxing taking a backseat over the past few months.
But with ample time for reflection, he has gained new perspective both on the direction of his career and – most prominently - what was initially a bitterly disappointing defeat to Price.
The 'White Rhino' entered the fight with real momentum having secured consecutive wins over Nick Webb, Samir Nebo and Ariel Esteban Bracamonte before registering a career-best knockout victory against Lucas Browne in April 2019.
Price surprised many with his performance, however, and while Allen admits the loss was difficult to take, he ultimately thinks it was the best thing for him as a person.
“The momentum was there, but I took the Price fight 48 hours after the Browne fight,” Allen explained. “I never got a chance to enjoy it and rest. It all got a little bit too much.
“After five weeks back in camp, I was exhausted. You live and learn; I have no regrets. David Price was the better fighter on the night and I have to congratulate him.
“I wasn’t looking past Price, but 12 months prior to the fight I was ready to retire. I’d accepted a four-round fight in Sunderland against Lee Carter, who was one [win] in five [fights].
"And 12 months later I accepted the Povetkin fight, thinking ‘look how far I've come'.
“I had more or less agreed the Povetkin fight and my head was in the clouds. As a human being, it was a good result because it brought me back to Earth."
In the aftermath of the bout, Allen was contemplating saying goodbye to his beloved sport. But while his boxing journey was not to be over just yet, his working relationship with trainer Darren Barker was.
“In the hospital after the Price fight, I said I would never fight again,” Allen recalled. “And Darren said he would never be in the corner again.
“It was an upsetting night for him; Darren and I are good friends. I’ve now returned to boxing, but we agreed that we wouldn’t work together again as far back as July 2019.
“It wasn’t a hard decision for me. Darren changed my life around with the Lucas Browne fight. I’ve got a great friend for life, but Darren’s a very busy man and he doesn’t want to be a boxing trainer.
"I'm very thankful for what he did but I had to go on and find a new trainer.”
And that’s exactly what Allen has done. Following his victory over Darch in February – a fight for which he says he trained himself – he has now signed with MTK Global and linked up with Jamie Moore.
There is no longer a one last chance mindset; Allen is more motivated than ever.
“I'm really hungry now,” he said. “I'm 28, I’ve had five defeats and taken a few hidings, but I'm as hungry as I’ve ever been.
“I needed a trainer and I’d wanted to go to the [Churchill] gym for a long time. Jamie’s one of the best coaches in Britain and it just seemed the right time to move to MTK Global.
"The gym is full of talented fighters and I think I can learn not only from Jamie, but the other fighters as well.”
While Allen recognises it would be difficult for Moore to reinvent him stylistically, he believes the partnership will benefit his conditioning immeasurably.
“I’ve been boxing for 12 years now,” Allen said. “It’s very difficult to go into a gym and for him to change me as a fighter. It’s pretty much ingrained in me now. But when I turn up on fight night, I’ll be the fittest, strongest I can be.
“When I'm in the gym, I’ll want to impress Jamie. I've got a lot of respect for him; he was a great fighter. I’ll listen, put in no less than 100 per cent and I’m going to give it a proper go.”
Boxing is now edging towards a restart. Eddie Hearn is looking to bring his Fight Camp plan to life in the garden of Matchroom Boxing’s headquarters, and Allen – who has been undertaking labouring work for Resin Flooring in the sport’s absence – is looking to get involved.
There has been talk of a potential bout against Hughie Fury, but it’s Price who remains on Allen's mind.
“Fighting behind closed doors, you want a proper fight,” he said. “The David Price fight: there’s revenge, there’s putting the score right, there’s lots of money in it for the winner. But more than anything else, there’s pride. I want to beat him - I think I can beat him.
“I let myself down the first time and I’d like the chance to make that right. I think I’ll perform better without the crowd - a lot of people have called me a gym fighter in the past.
“I love the crowd, all of the emotion, the atmosphere and the ring walks, but in terms of fighting, I've always sparred better than I've fought.”
Where Allen previously believed he may have just one more fight left, he is now hoping for five in the next 22 months with the eventual goal of retiring after 30 bouts, aged 30.
And with the 28-year-old approaching the twilight years of his career, his focus has shifted.
Allen has been training Danny Murrell for the last three years. And after a successful amateur career, the 18-year-old has now also signed for MTK Global, moving into the professional game in the process.
“I met Danny when he was 13 and started training him at 15,” Allen said. “He’s like the kid I never had. People always say having kids will change you – and he’s changed me a lot.
“He’s made me a better person. He’s made me appreciate life a lot more and realise that I've got to be there for him.
“I’ve had moments of madness before; mad gambling, self-harming, the list goes on. But having a figure that’s like a little brother or a son has really changed my life.
“In return, I think I've made him a better boxer, a better person and I'm very grateful that I've met him. He’s got a lot of talent and I think I can take him to the British title.
“I see a lot of people on social media saying he’s no good, but I take immense pride from watching him. I can assure you he’s very good. He’s so talented and when he’s in the ring doing his thing, it fills me with pride.”
And while Allen now looks to push on – both with his new trainer and protege - he admits he’s already surpassed all expectations.
“I'm enjoying the coaching, enjoying labouring work on building sites,” he said. “It’s not as glamorous as headlining the O2 Arena, but I'm really happy.
“I didn’t get into boxing to make money, I got into boxing to make a name for myself. I never dreamed of the support I’ve got.
“Yes, belts and money are both fantastic, I want to get loads of belts. But I've pretty much got everything from the game I wanted. I went in to make my family proud and I’d like to think that’s what I’ve done.”