Allen vs Browne: David Allen's career-changing battle with Lucas Browne is no laughing matter
Watch Allen vs Browne on Saturday's O2 bill, including Chisora-Gashi, Josh Kelly & Joe Cordina, live on Sky Sports from 7pm.
By Richard Damerell
Last Updated: 17/04/19 2:40pm
David Allen is days away from a career-changing fight with Lucas Browne - and needs to forget that 'White Rhino' persona when the first bell rings...
Posing for photos just inches from the shaven headed Browne, he just could not help himself, and Allen delivered a light-hearted grin for the cameras before patting the stomach of the man who will brutally attempt to deliver a crushing defeat at The O2 on Saturday night, live on Sky Sports.
Such playful behaviour has earned Allen a large following of fans, who regularly interact with 'White Rhino' and his ever changing social media identity, which is currently listed as 'Papi De La ALLEN ALLEN ALLEN'.
Allen's natural response is humour, a refreshing approach to an unforgiving sport, but his eagerness to entertain proved costly ahead of his last crucial bout.
On the day of his Commonwealth title clash with Lenroy Thomas, Allen went walkabout, touring a number of locations around Sheffield to meet fans ahead of his appearance on the Bramall Lane undercard for Kell Brook's IBF title fight with Errol Spence Jr. Allen would later produce a lethargic performance as the pitter-patter of Thomas earned a split decision win.
There can be no such distractions in the days ahead of his battle with Browne, a former WBA title holder with a thunderous knockout punch, who is fighting for his own future. But Allen will be aware of the big opportunities that beckon for himself, with victory likely to pave the way for a domestic clash against David Price or Derek Chisora.
He has linked up with new trainer Darren Barker, who knows all about seizing a defining moment, having worked his brittle body into career-best shape to claim the IBF middleweight title with a valiant win over Daniel Geale. If ever Allen needed wise counsel, it is now, and Barker will be well placed to issue a few stern words of instruction if Allen's discipline is tested by his desire to appease the crowd with a bout of showboating.
For Allen to reach this point, where he is mixing with some of Britain's best upcoming talent, and a respected warrior like Chisora is testament to himself as the 27-year-old has overcome bouts of depression that threatened to curtail his career. His continued success has inspired others and victory over Samir Nebo led to an outpouring of joy, with fans chorusing his name in Newcastle while Alan Shearer, the normal fans' favourite, joined in the applause.
But Allen has reached a fork in the road, where victory can earn the recognition he has sought as a contender.
Speaking last year, Allen told Sky Sports: "It's really important to me that people don't just look at me as a joke character. I want them to look at me and say 'Yeah, David Allen is a nice man, a funny man,' but the first thing I want them to say is 'David Allen is a very good fighter.'"
It's time for Allen to snarl, rather than smile this Saturday.
Watch David Allen against Lucas Browne on the O2 bill, including Derek Chisora versus Senad Gashi, Josh Kelly and Joe Cordina on Saturday, from 7pm on Sky Sports Action.