Fan favourite, White Rhino, faced the biggest test of his career against former world champion, Big Daddy zBrowne, 20 April 2019.
Colonial Clash: David Allen vs Lucas Browne Breakdown
David Allen is marmite. Love him or hate him; Allen will be fondly remembered in British boxing history books as a fighter who garnered attention far beyond his skill. A small heavyweight in stature, standing at just 6’3″ amongst the giants of the division, Allen’s following dwarfed all outside of the top-ten. Flipping between periods of taking the sport seriously and long stretches of piling on weight in between fights, it is understandable that Allen’s lax approach to the sport would polarise the die-hard fans. Yet his ‘heart-on-sleeve’ attitude in public and on social media would carve Allen a loyal and vocal fanbase who were willing to travel to watch a fighter many deemed at best a gatekeeper.
Racing to an undefeated 9-0-1 record at just twenty-four years old, the relatively unknown Yorkshireman had started to make waves at the regional level. Overcoming the perennial Heavyweight journeyman, Jason Gavern, after a tiresome four-round stoppage, Allen was ready to take the next big career step. Unfortunately, throughout 2016-2018, Allen failed to focus solely on the sport and often weighed in inexcusably out-of-shape. After a shut-out decision loss to Dillian Whyte in his eleventh fight, Allen was exposed as a powerful brawler. Then, in perhaps the most vile matchmaking so far of promoter Eddie Hearn’s career, Allen was thrown to the wolves against decorated amateur, Luis Ortiz. A feared power puncher, the Cuban beat Allen black and blue for seven gruelling rounds. As would become a common theme in Allen’s career, however, it would be the Yorkshireman’s rugged resilience and never die attitude during his losses that would make him a star. Refusing to keel over in the ring before turning on the charm in post-fight interviews, the affable hard-nut quickly became a fan favourite.
Following a couple of bounce-back wins against journeymen, Allen failed once again to step up when pitted against Lenroy Thomas for the Commonwealth title. Allen put on a stinker of a performance in front of a vocal Sheffield crowd at Bramhall Lane. Allen had misjudged his opponent, and after failing to knock Thomas out early, he was out-worked over twelve rounds. The rematch, almost a year later, marked perhaps the first high-profile fight that Allen entered the ring in-shape for. Tragically, the bout would end as a technical draw in the first round after an accidental clash of heads caused a deep gash over Allen’s eyebrow. Frustrated, Allen would travel to France just three months later to face hot prospect and former Olympic Gold medallist, Tony Yoka. A one-sided beatdown ensued. The clinic that Yoka put on Allen was a career changer. Later admitting himself after retiring, Allen was ready to leave the sport for good after the damage he received from Yoka for what he perceived as pennies.
Broken physically, out-of-shape, and with one foot out of the door, Allen’s story really should have ended on that summer’s night in Paris. But as the saying goes – you can’t keep a good man down. One month later, Allen sent shockwaves across the O2 Arena after toppling the towering Nick Webb with a fourth-round knockout that revived his career. For the first time in his career, Allen secured a victory of substance. With a highlight-reel stoppage on live television under his belt, it was time for main card fights. (Side note – It is abhorrent that Allen was cleared medically to fight just one month after his thrashing at the hands of Yoka. Shame on the BBBofC and Eddie Hearn for allowing Allen to fight Webb. While the result would secure Allen’s future, he entered as the clear underdog on the night and was widely expected to fall victim to Webb’s fearsome power)
Allen closed out his 2018 in style with a two-minute whooping of hard-hitting German, Samir Nebo, and a seven-round war with unknown Argentinian, Ariel Esteban Bracamonte. With money in the bank and riding a career-high, the Yorkshireman was pitted against former WBA world champion, Lucas Browne. While the Aussie was a far cry from his hay-day against Ruslan Chagaev, he had lost only once during a twenty-nine fight career. If Allen were to win, he would legitimise himself as an international contender and flirt with rankings at the world level.
Lucas Browne was never taken seriously as a world-level boxer until he pulled off the shock stoppage of Ruslan Chagaev in Russia back in 2016. Although undefeated before his WBA world title challenge, the best name on Browne’s twenty-three wins had been undefeated Andriy Rudenko. The 6’0 Ukrainian was a decent amateur, but had regularly struggled with his weight in the professional ranks and never carried the power to threaten the top heavyweights. Worse still, the Aussie had feasted upon a banquet of Oceania journeymen – a calibre below that of European/North American counterparts. To make matters worse, Browne also failed to put away the forty-four-year-old, former Middleweight champion, James Toney.
Knocked down in the sixth round by Chagaev, and cruising towards a shut-out on the scorecards, Browne countered a careless Chagaev flurry with a powerful right hook. Digging deep to finish a wobbly Chagaev against the ropes, Browne exhibited a champion’s heart and proved he could carry his power late against decent opposition. It is a shame then, that Browne’s miraculous ability to turn the tide was partly due to his rampant use of PEDs. Just a couple months after claiming his world title, Browne returned a positive drug test for clenbuterol (weight loss accelerator). Six months later, Browne produced yet another positive test, this time for ostarine (increases muscle mass).
Presumably clean, Browne returned for his first big fight after serving his drug bans against British prospect, Dillian Whyte. Overweight, sluggish, and unable to land anything significant, Browne was eventually dropped by a left hook in the sixth that left the Aussie snoozing on the canvas for a scarily long time. When the knockout sequence is not shown on the replay for a good 15-20 minutes after the stoppage, you know it was a bad one.
Surprisingly, Browne was not yet finished with his boxing endeavours and worked his way through journeymen to rebuild. In a warm-up fight planned a month before his showdown with Allen, Browne faced off against the extremely dangerous, Kamil Sokolowski. At 6-14-2, Sokolowski’s record leaves little to be desired, but some of his scalps prove his worth. Stoppage over AJ Carter, Naylor Ball, and Nick Webb, Sokolowski is a fighter who enjoys throwing a spanner in the works. Dropping Browne in the second round, the Australian was extremely lucky to have found his hand raised at the end of six tumultuous rounds. Former world champion or not, Browne needed to beat Allen in style to earn another title shot.
Tale of The tape
|David Allen||Lucas Browne|
|16-4-2 (13KO)||Record||28-1 (24KO)|
|Doncaster, UK||Hometown||Perth, Australia|
Noticeably larger, Browne called upon his experience to immediately manage distance with an extended lead arm. Using his reach advantage, the Australian kept himself safely outside of the range of Allen’s powerful overhand right. Foolishly attempting to trade jabs in the opening minute, Allen was beaten to the punch every time. While his chin is more than capable of absorbing probing straight shots, Browne had effectively created a barrier that prevented Allen from entering into striking range.
Buoyed by his jab, Browne started to lay down 3-4 punch combinations after the opening minute. While Allen’s tight defensive shell meant much of the damage was parried or absorbed onto gloves, the high guard also restricted his ability to counter. The solution for Allen’s defensive posture was gifted to him by Browne. Lingering within striking distance after finishing his combinations, Browne’s age and lack of speed left him in dangerous situations with few options for escape. Although Allen was unable to take advantage of the opportunity during the opening round, his head movement opened avenues that would continue to arise throughout the fight.
The key to unlocking a static high guard? Uppercuts. Acknowledging that his hooks were ineffectually landing onto Allen’s guard, Browne began to drive a rear uppercut that sailed through the gap to tag the Yorkshireman’s chin. While there wasn’t much juice behind any of Browne’s uppercuts, they were scoring shots for the judges as well as forcing Allen into action.
Browne’s ruination lay in his hooks. Toothless, loopy hooks that tamely thudded upon Allen’s guard was exacerbated by Browne’s lack of urgency to retrieve his flailing arm. Leaving himself overextended, Browne painted a target upon himself as he left his mid-rift open for counters. Although Allen spent much of the first round headhunting, perhaps indicating his nerves during the most important fight of his career, he would later take full advantage.
Of particular surprise was the Australian’s head movement. Just a year prior, Browne’s head had remained cemented on the centre line and allowed Whyte to snap his chin so viciously in the sixth round. While his footwork is reminiscent of a first prototype deep-sea diving suit, the big lump can move his head deceptively well. After identifying the dangerous range he found himself in, Browne anticipated an incoming overhand right and slipped under it with ease. Moreover, to re-establish a comfortable distance again, Browne laid down a combination that forced Allen to shell up and surrender his advantageous ring position. The power thrown by Browne may have been limp, but his pre-fight prediction of “a good old fashioned slugfest”, suggests he was conserving his energy for a long night. Stealing the opening rounds based on volume as an increasingly frustrated Allen head-hunted; Browne’s game plan was understandable.
Often ridiculed as a fighter totally reliant upon his chin, Allen’s active parry game is often ignored. Having eaten the majority of Browne’s shots early, Allen slowly began to settle on the inside as exhibited by his comfort in parrying rather than blocking hooks. Within a fifteen second sequence, Allen slipped or parried all of Browne’s offence and began to create his own opportunities to counter. Worse still for the Australian, it also marks Allen’s first significant attempt at targeting the body. Just missing the liver after a clash of limbs, Allen had still indicated intent to target Browne’s breadbasket.
To quote Teddy Atlas, Allen began ‘pouring water in the basement’ with a calculated barrage of bodywork. Pouring is perhaps inaccurate, however. The Yorkshireman was instead flooding Browne’s basement. Too resilient to visibly express his disapproval, Browne’s pain is instead exposed by his resultant decision-making. After absorbing a series of liver shots, Browne channelled a seven-punch combination that aimed to push Allen onto the backfoot. Sitting down on his shots for the first time in the contest, the power thrown highlights Browne’s desperate attempts to gain the respect of his foe and prevent Allen’s forward pressure. Riding a career-high, Allen’s will was not so easily broken, and he continued to pressure the body undeterred of what would be returned.
By the start of the third round, Browne was desperate to stop haemorrhaging damage to the body. Upon every feint by Allen, Browne curled into a fetal defensive posture aiming to minimise the available real estate on his body. It is fair to say that Allen is not an offensive wizard. Yet with every bluff, Allen puppeteered his more experienced opponent into a frantic shell. By forcing Browne to dip down into his guard, Allen had time to close the range and prevent Browne’s crucial straight shots.
That isn’t to say that Browne was a sitting duck, ripe for the taking. Allen was caught with a heavy uppercut as he moved back in a straight line. Despite taking it clean on the chin, Allen appeared unfazed after having his neck snapped back.
Baiting Browne again with another feint, the Australian was enticed into his emergency shell before being caught with a surprise left hook. While both men were later criticised online after the fight, the pair exhibited the ability to adapt inside the ring despite the immense pressure – a key attribute that separates the professionals. Immediately feinting again to Browne’s body, Allen forced Browne to shield himself, before rifling a mammoth uppercut that broke his nose.
There would be one last futile attempt by Browne to push Allen against the ropes and suppress his advances. After launching his combination, Browne mistakenly ended his advance with a sloppy right hook that sailed over Allen’s head. With ‘shades of Ali’ on full show, Allen shifted his weight onto his left foot before unleashing a full-blooded liver shot that crippled Browne. Shut-down against his will by his own nervous system, Browne fell to his knees with blood streaming from his nose. Allen had realised the crowning achievement of his career and secured a place in the British boxing annals.