David Allen insists he’s a changed man ahead of Andrea Pesce comeback fight in Sheffield

David Allen insists he’s a changed man as he prepares to raise the curtain on part two of his colourful career.

The first half of the White Rhino’s boxing story saw him effectively crowned The People's Champion thanks to his carefree exterior, which masked his inner demons, and culminated in a headline show against David Price at London’s O2 Arena in 2019.

A punishing defeat in that fight put paid to his ambitions at world level and, following a walk-in-the-park comeback win in February 2020, he officially retired.

“My last fight I was 27. The life expectancy of men in the UK is late 70s – 50 years is a long time,” Allen, still only 29, says of his decision to return.

Dave Allen. Photo: Richard Heathcote/Getty Images

"Boxing is my ID. I also got into training and managing and looked at the landscape and thought ‘where are my fighters going to fight?’.

“It was a mixture of them getting somewhere to box and me getting something in my life.”

Allen, from Conisbrough, now trains five amateurs and manages three professionals, two of which – Levi Kinsiona and Stevi Levy – will also be on Friday’s bill at Ponds Forge when he makes his return in a four-round fight against Italian Andrea Pesce (7-13-3, two knockouts).

Once upon a time, any suggestion of the 6ft 3in heavyweight (18-5-2, 15 knockouts) being a role model would have prompted questions about how many blows you had been on the receiving end of.

But now he’s the first in the gym every morning and trains up to six times a week.

“If he wants to be a trainer he's got to show them how it should be done,” says Allen’s former manager Dennis Hobson, who is promoting his comeback on Fightzone.

"He's in good shape and as long as he's got the attitude Dave will be a force again.”

Allen, who splits his training between Doncaster and Sheffield, adds: “I have still got aspirations, I would love to headline the O2 again.

"I did well without taking it seriously. I’m 30 next year, I’m much more mature than I ever was.

"I can’t remember a fight I ever had that wasn’t blighted by personal problems. There was always something going on, I never put together a good training camp.

"The last three or four months I have been training, nothing has gone wrong.”

With Allen not yet 100 per cent fit, Friday will be a progress checkpoint.

On Pesce, an opponent he sought out himself, Allen says: "I was looking for someone tough but not dangerous.

"I should naturally be too good for him but he’s tough. He’s the perfect comeback fight for me.”

If it goes well, he will be back out in October and possibly again before the end of the year.

If it doesn’t, he insists the comeback will be over before all the audience members have taken their seats.

‘The Doncaster De La Hoya’ says he is in no rush this time round, having previously been thrown in with Dillyian Whyte and Luis Ortiz – world-level fighters – after just 10 professional bouts.

But he doesn't rule out another big clash soon.

The future, it seems, is as unpredictable as the past was.

Part two is about to begin, ladies and gentlemen.

Enjoy the show.