David Allen delivers a moment worthy of the brightest of spotlights
Whatever took him into the main event slot at the O2 Arena, David Allen was determined to prove himself worthy of such a spotlight.
A fighter who has been afforded more opportunities than most at his level, largely down to his phenomenal popularity, was under pressure to deliver like never before.
He told this newspaper in the week leading up to his clash with former world heavyweight champion Lucas Browne that he was ready to realise all the promise he had shown throughout his six year professional career.
If popularity brought him to the dance at the erstwhile Millennium Dome, he was determined to show that his boxing prowess was good enough to keep him there.
And with a peach of a flash, brutal hook to the body just three rounds in, he suggested he is more than capable of doing just that.
Arguably Britain’s most popular active fighter secured the statement victory he was crying out for, and smashed down the door to other big name opponents.
Allen’s story has captured the imagination. Down to earth and incredibly candid, he has laid bare his struggles with mental health and gambling addiction.
And he has done so all the while demonstrating the incredible humour and entertainment that has driven his popularity in the social media era.
But in the background of it all has been the story of a naturally gifted boxer who has struggled to deliver inside the ropes.
Sight of Allen in training and sparring only drew frustration when he struggled through matches he should easily have breezed past.
Less than a year ago he was ready to hang up his gloves and explore other avenues within the sport.
But his stunning knockout of Nick Webb in his last outing at the O2 last July changed everything.
He may have always demonstrated belief in his ability, but for Allen, his win was a point of realisation.
He knuckled down but his dedication was nothing compared to that which he showed after finally landing the clash with Browne.
When he walked to the ring on Saturday night, he looked like a modern day athletic heavyweight rather than the sort of lumbering giant that characterised the division at the turn of the millennium.
And the fight ended left hand showed exactly what he is capable of when fighting fit and looking sharp.
It brought a tremendous ovation from the crowd – something which should hand him the motivation to deliver again on his next opportunity.
Whatever that is, it is likely to be a much tougher test, with Browne no longer the same fighter as the one that previously won the WBA title.
But the likes of David Price and Dereck Chisora will hardly have taken enthusiasm for a potential clash when they witnessed the crunching body shot he landed after ducking a hook by Browne.
It was by no means a perfect performance. He took a fair amount of shots from Browne over the first two rounds as well as landing a decent amount of his own.
But it is perhaps time to accept Allen will always take punishment, whoever he is up against. His chin and supreme toughness have been proven over the years and he did so again on Saturday night.
Better then to look at the difference in the White Rhino that his improved fitness and conditioning brought – including greater hand speed and movement.
It no doubt aided the key point in the contest, when he comfortably slipped under a hook from Browne and rapidly fired back, folding the Australian and leaving him unable to answer the count.
With a lump in his throat he answered questions in the ring afterwards. The magnitude of the achievement, just as did with his KO of Webb last year, resonated with him.
It is a positive sign that he felt that importance. It spurred him on once and should hopefully only accelerate his improvement.
Former Olympian Price looks the most likely to stand across the ring from him next, likely back at the O2 in July, this time on the undercard of Dillian Whyte’s next bout.
The spotlight may not be quite so intense, but you would not back against Allen delivering like he has never done before.