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A preview: Dave Allen vs Dorian Darch

Dave Allen vs Dorian Darch may lack the obvious glamour readily expected of an early 2020 David Allen fight.

However, on Saturday night, supporting Kell Brook vs Mark DeLuca at the Sheffield Arena, this is the contest we will receive.

Recent memory still stores, in vivid technicolour, the momentum-building, hotly-promoted run of Allen victories, which started in July 2018 with Nick Webb (16-2; Allen won by KO), and included the former (though 'stripped') WBA heavyweight champion Lucas Browne (29-2; Allen won by KO). A presumed victory over former British champion and ageing Liverpudlian David Price (25-7) in July was expected to destine Allen for greater challenges, to add notable credit to his record and to initially elevate him to British and European level before the Shangri-La of beyond. But ‘Pricey’ demurred and conceived an entirely alternate reality.

Outclassed over 10 exacting and methodically punishing rounds, the Doncaster man was retired from the contest by his concerned corner. He received oxygen immediately but collapsed on attempting to stand. Leaving the ring on a stretcher, much to the distress of his ardent and profitable fanbase, Allen stated that his health had been in decline for the previous 18 months, that he was suffering double vision for much of the fight, and that he was now likely to retire.

By comparison, and the virtue of his advancing age, Dorian Darch (12-11-1) is the promiscuous cougar living within the British boxing neighbourhood. He’s flitted his eyes, wagged his tail, coyly blushed and touched gloves with many of the current champions, contenders and prospects. His opponents include, but are no means limited to: Anthony Joshua, Hughie Fury, Tom Little, David Howe, Chris Healey, Mark Bennett and Daniel Dubois. Intriguingly, and germane to Dave Allen, he has also shared the ring with Nick Webb (16-2), the Surrey fighter who recently won the heavyweight edition of the Ultimate Boxxer tournament.

In July 2018, Allen KOed Webb in the fourth round with a concussive overhand right. Webb has since attempted to recontextualize this loss by describing it as occurring too soon following his invasive reconstructive shoulder surgery.

Still, it remains one of the highlight victories upon Dave Allen’s record and a loss which Nick Webb has repeatedly stated that he is subsequently keen to avenge. In September 2018, Webb KOed Dorian Darch in the second round of their matchup, making Allen vs Darch firstly a yardstick – a pugilistic measuring post – to ascertain the current capabilities, condition, focus and desire of Dave Allen; and secondly, if Allen prevails, to determine and build possible demand for Allen vs. Webb II.

It is now unlikely that we will hear suggestions, or even whispers, especially from anyone outside of Twitter who wishes to be taken seriously, categorising Dave Allen as a genuine future world title challenger. He seems contented, enjoying his role training and training alongside Jay McFarlane, Danny Murrell and Liam Carrigan, all of whom are looking to develop their fledgling careers, but he is certainly still capable of participating in entertaining fights at British and European level. Indeed, Allen himself recently stated that to become British champion is ‘just the goal full stop. The British heavyweight title is the be-all and end-all. It always been.’

Expressed with characteristic eagerness, Allen expects to win the belt this year, ‘when Daniel Dubois and Joe Joyce move on.’ But to get to that, he first has to go through Saturday’s gatekeeper: civil engineer and dark fruit cider enthusiast, Dorian Darch.

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