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Undefeated heavyweight happy to patiently climb ladder


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Undefeated heavyweight happy to patiently climb ladder to success

 

By David Pritchard

 

 

The nature of heavyweight boxing means fighters’ egos are usually as much a part of the sport as what happens in the ring.

 

As Audley Harrison proved in getting a world title shot against David Haye last year, rampant self-promotion and a near-delusional self-belief can take you a long way, even if you are not planning to throw too many punches.

 

In that context Tom Dallas’ approach comes as a bit of a shock. The antithesis of Harrison and Haye’s in-your-face brands, it is easy to forget the gentle giant is a highly-rated boxer on course for a national title attempt in a few months.

 

The 25-year-old’s description of how he almost fell into the world of professional boxing is typical of his laid back outlook.

 

"I first went down the gym when I was 10 and as soon as I went in I’ve been there ever since," he said. "I don’t know what it was about it that got me hooked. I was always hyperactive as a kid so going down the boxing gym kept me out of trouble, I suppose.

 

"I started having fights and as an amateur I stopped quite a few of them. I was just seeing how it went; I wasn’t doing it with a view to going professional or anything. I just boxed because I enjoyed it, but when I started winning quite a lot of fights and was stopping people I thought ‘I might have a go at turning pro and see what happens. It’s going quite well at the minute."

 

Dallas’ management may want to hype that last sentence up a little when promoting him. Fortunately for them the Chatham fighter’s fists do all the talking and he remains undefeated more than two years after turning professional.

 

Just 28 rounds have been required to win his 12 fights so far, nine of which have come via knockout. Slowly but surely Dallas, who until recently has been playing regional league rugby with Gravesend, has crept up the rankings, to the point where he is now on the brink of becoming one of Britain’s top-10 heavyweights.

 

Ahead of a planned homecoming fight in Medway later in the spring, his next bout is in a fortnight against Zambian champion Francis Zulu. The 36-year-old has won 15 of his 20 fights, most recently in a Commonwealth title eliminator which went the distance.

 

It marks another rung on the ladder for Dallas, who has high hopes 2011 could be the year he makes the transition from rising star to achieve wider success.

 

"I’ve got a fight in February and another in March so I’m hoping to fight quite a few times this year," he said. "Hopefully I’ll be able to fight for a national title or at least a title eliminator by the end of the year.

 

"I think every fight I’m getting better, I just take each fight as it comes and hopefully I can stay undefeated. It’s something I’m very proud of because I hate losing. If I threw a penny up the wall and lost that I’d be gutted, I just hate losing so for me it’s important to stay undefeated. Obviously my next fight is a step up in class and hopefully it will keep going like that."

 

While he may not yet be a household name, Dallas has caught the attention of several who are. Standing at 6ft 6ins he has become a valuable sparring partner for heavyweights preparing to take on the division’s tallest fighters.

 

Haye used him in the build-up to his WBA world title fight against Nikolay Valuev in November 2009. There were plans for more sessions, but the cancellation of the eagerly awaited meeting with Vladimir Klitschko has put it on hold for the moment.

 

There were also offers before Christmas from Dereck Chisora, who is due to take on the giant Ukrainian, and Poland’s Albert Sosnowski, but training commitments forced Dallas to turn them down.

 

This week David Price made a 400-mile round-trip from Liverpool just for a sparring session and intends to make it a regular event.

 

Perhaps the most impressive aspect of Dallas’ rise is it has come while holding down a full-time job as a roofer. The dual commitments can cause problems, although he hopes it will not be long before he leaves the ladders behind.

 

"It is hard in parts because a lot of professionals spar at around midday, so I have to try and arrange for time off work or change it to the evening," he said. "It can be a bit difficult, but you just juggle things around.

 

"It would be nice to do it full-time instead of going up and down roofs all day long. I reckon by the end of the year if things go well, or if we can get a sponsor, I’ll be able to go full-time so I’ll be able to just concentrate on the boxing. It would help because sometimes when I spar in the evening it’s come after I’ve been carrying tiles up and down all day and I feel a bit tired. If I could just focus on the boxing it would be a lot easier."

 

Given Dallas’ penchant for understatement, his rivals better watch out.

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