Editor’s Column: Evans is a throwback who deserves a fair shot

Editor’s Column: Evans is a throwback who deserves a fair shot

On average, St Clears’ Dale Evans (10-2-3, 3KO) walks away from the ring without a win once in every three fights. Does it matter? Absolutely not. The Welshman is a throwback fighter, who admits that he struggles to get going against lesser opponents and instead, welcomes tough fights against top class domestic opposition. That’s what matters.

For those who have followed Evans’ action packed four-year career, that group doesn’t include Sky Sports’ presenter Johnny Nelson, it wasn’t a massive surprise to see the heavy-handed banger drop and rock British and Commonwealth champion Sam Eggington (17-2, 9KO), who was fighting for the fifth time in 11 months.

At times, Evans can be crude but his power, in both hands, is underrated and the three stoppages on his ledger don’t serve justice to his main attribute, while Eggington isn’t the most unhittable operator about. Records, as the cliche goes, are for disk jockeys and Evans packs far more pop than his 20% knockout ratio suggests. Many of “Big Boy’s” points victories have been against understandably less ambitious journeymen opponents who leave few openings, while better opponents like Eric Ochieng and Adil Anwar can bare witness to the Welshman’s spite in both hands.

What was surprising in Saturday’s competitive points decision loss, were the underrated skills Evans utilized. He paced himself effectively, feinting from the outside to buy him breathers when he needed them, before approaching low, outside of Eggington’s eye line and rising with venomous bursts of attack. It was a smarter game plan than he’ll get credit for.

What won the respect of many observers was the class that Evans and Eggington approached the contest and the grace they handled the outcome with. Maybe it was because they had already fought but the respect shared between the youngsters and their conduct throughout everything acts as an example to many older and more experienced professionals on British and abroad soil. Badmouthing was absent on both sides; instead they opted to put all of their energies in to producing a fight that paid tribute to the true and traditional spirit of the Lord Lonsdale belt.

What’s more evidence of the mark of the man Evans is, the 23-year-old hasn’t mentioned the injuries he incurred in 36 minutes of pain and pride. The cuts and black eyes were clear to see in both the red and blue corners but Evans also sustained a broken nose and perforated eardrum, yet there was no word of the unseen wounds in the post-fight interview or subsequent social media updates. Blood and bruises are part and parcel of combat sports, though a participant’s brave acceptance of the risk they bring should never be underestimated.

The same can be said of Eggington who, like Evans, has not had it easy. The 21-year-old turned over on a small show in a Swansea nightclub, also turning over Ammanford’s tough and tasty Leon Findlay in a four round tear up. Eggington fought his way through a number of hard fights, overcoming defeats to Evans and Johnny Coyle in Prizefighter tournaments on the way to headline his own shows on Sky Sports. That is no mean feat and the Midlander has a remarkable story himself, benefitted by a mentality that’s similar to Evans’. Maybe that’s why it’s always likely they’ll produce fan friendly fights.

Sky Sport’s commentator Nick Hailing was keen to point out that Evans had been in training for a four rounder. However, Liverpool’s co-commentating world title challenger Paul Smith was quick to correct him, stating that it’s a far cry from competing in a 12 round title challenge, especially on 10 days notice. Taking in to consideration that Evans sandwiches training between 40 hours’ worth of shift work every week, then that puts the Gary Lockett trained prospect’s achievements in to context.

A concreter by trade, training commitments and a 150-mile trip to the gym often forces Evans to take unpaid time off work – a sacrifice that hurts the pocket of any working man. It would be a shame to see those circumstances force Evans out of boxing before his time, especially as he’s so willing to succeed but he needs worthwhile fights to stay in the sport. Evans has endured numerous cancellations and low pay-days, he can only continue like that for so long.

A fighter who’s willing to take on any opponent, anywhere is a rarity. Far too many prospects build up undefeated records at home, while manager’s battle for petty advantages that do no favours in preparing their man for higher levels. Evans is the opposite, will he get the opportunities he craves and deserves? It’s unclear in the immediate aftermath of his third career loss. Every time Evans has been showcased on Eddie Hearn’s shows, he’s been in exciting fights.

Amidst the highs and lows that come with competitive matchmaking, which has included a stoppage defeat, it’s those hungry qualities that are likely to see Evans invited back. The final installment of a trilogy with Eggington would sell well and please viewers at home, that’s if Eggington doesn’t have a mandatory challenger ordered in the meantime.

One thing that Evans showed is that the relatively green Eggington, trained by Birmingham’s wise Jon Pegg, is still learning on the job and his handlers will know that. In hindsight, Eggington’s previously planned fight against world title challenger Frankie Gavin may have been a step too far at this stage and if Evans isn’t seen as a sideways step, a third fight could make a lot of sense for all parties…

Dewi Powell
BoxingWales.com Editor

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