“I’m concussed. I’m seeing five of him,” said Dave Allen as he sat in the corner at the end of the tenth round. His right eye was closing and cut, and at this latter stage of this twelve-round fight the points differential was too vast to be overcome with anything other than an unlikely knockout.
Moments of confusion and concern were resolved as trainer Darren Barker motioned his hand across his neck, shook his head and signalled to the referee that his man wouldn’t be returning for the eleventh, and the fight was duly stopped.
Allen received oxygen in the corner and buckled as he stood, leading to him being stretchered from the ring and taken to a nearby hospital for further treatment and cautionary scans.
It was a dramatic and surprising conclusion to a fight which was considered by many as another likely celebratory stepping stone in the renaissance of a rejuvenated Allen, further elevating him up the heavyweight rankings and preceding an autumnal/wintery showdown with two-time-world-title-challenger and former WBA regular champion, Russia’s Alexander Povetkin (34-2-0).
Instead, another narrative was written: the vindication and romantic reimagining of Liverpool’s David Price.
A former British and Commonwealth champion, Price had become categorised in the consciousness of the wider boxing public as a promising, champion amateur who, despite several unfortunate circumstances and blameless setbacks mostly occurring beyond his control (losing twice to proven drug cheat Tony Thompson, for example) has never achieved the decoration assumed or performed at the level expected.
He was brutally stopped in round five against Alexander Povetkin, received a fortunate stoppage against Tom Little and looked tired and laboured prior to his disqualification victory over the biting Kash Ali. Indeed, the perception was of him as a domestic level gatekeeper, a ‘big, stiff plumber,’ who at thirty-six should possible retire and whom – if you could last the first three of four rounds against – would tire for an easy stoppage…which is what made what unfolded last night even more compelling.
Price sustained his jab, his countering and his level to the ultimate conclusion of the fight. Yes, perhaps bettering Dave Allen will not alter peoples’ perceptions. Perhaps it shouldn’t. Perhaps, as many suggest, even Dave himself, Allen is not a world class boxing talent and has potentially been afforded leeway and opportunities due to his substantial fanbase and likeable personality rather than any undisputed boxing merit. But these comments and detraction's should not distract from the jubilant scenes of victorious David Price, who enjoys a similar passionate following, nor reduce Allen to that of an unprized scalp. There was big pressure on both men coming into this fight, with real potential ‘end-of-the-road’ consequences for the loser.
The tactics of Allen and Barker were clearly to concede the opening rounds, but tire Price for a mid-to-late stoppage. Whilst Allen wouldn’t be as active up close as expected, he forced the pace during the early rounds, yet a pace which wasn’t proving too exacting for Price. Allen got to his chest on numerous occasions, targeted his body and looked for the signature overhand right, but Price was resistant and handling of all, landing several sickening uppercuts, left hooks and straight right hands in countering, the majority of which landed flush on Allen’s chin.
Whilst the manner of the ending and overall result was no doubt unlikeable to the Doncaster man’s large and loyal fanbase, it was timely and fair. The immediate concern for Allen’s post-fight health was replaced on late-Saturday-night/early-Sunday-morning, by relief at the news that he was out of hospital and seemingly ok, and questions now turned to focusing on what lies ahead for both men.
Allen has since intimated that he will retire following “twelve months of deteriorating health.” Aged only twenty-seven, but on the receiving end of punishing defeats to David Price and notably Tony Yoka, and with defensive frailties and stylistic limitations that often make for exciting, yet equally wincing fights, no one could begrudge him retirement, even though the boxing world would be irrefutably duller in his absence. Media opportunities will no doubt present themselves and would appear a safer, sustainable choice than the violent exertions of last night.
David Price has shown that he can still outbox and trouble anyone at British and Commonwealth level; and before the fight implied that if he won, he would be chasing another ‘massive fight’, with the view being to secure a lofty ranking position and possible future world title shot: a hope inspired by the potential dividing up of the heavyweight belts as the respective governing bodies apply pressure for their contenders to face their champion(s).
Yet these are discussions and fallout for another time. Right now, the congratulations and rewards go to David Price; the commiserations to David Allen, but the respect, deservedly, to both men.