Dale Evans talks Mike Towell heartache, S4C title clash, Eggington-Malignaggi, more
By Michael J Jones
IT’S EVERY boxers worst nightmare; something that is always at the distant back of a fighter’s mind. They know it can (thankfully rarely) happen and simply pray that it doesn’t happen to them or an opponent. Boxer’s block it out the same way a motorist blocks out a potential road accident but now and again, tragically, we realise the devastating consequences that can occur in our beloved sport.
Facing the promising “Iron” Mike Towell last September, Welshman Dale Evans was eager to put in a good performance to set up a British title shot. The welterweight bout saw the two men go to war in Glasgow before the away fighter prevailed via fifth-round knock-out. Towell was subsequently rushed to hospital and, with his family and the boxing community praying for his swift recovery, battled his last ever fight.
Just twenty four hours after his contest with Evans, the brave Scot sadly passed away. He had just turned 25-years-old.
Days later, the family and friends of Mike Towell consoled the emotional Dale at the funeral in tear-jerking scenes as everyone joined together to celebrate the life of the brave young boxer who gave his life to the sport he adored.
Speaking to Livefight last week, Evans painfully relives the heart-breaking moments following his tragic last contest five months ago.
“I one hundred percent see boxing as vastly different now” begins the St Clears contender. “After my last fight with Mike I questioned everything and was ready to leave the sport completely. You step back and see boxing and think ‘so people are paying to see two men fight each other and that (tragedy) could happen?’ I wondered what it was all about and what I was a part of.”
“Obviously, my thoughts have constantly been with Mike’s family but now what I want to do is carry on Mike’s dream and become British champion in his memory. What happened to Mike is always in the back of my mind and I’d hate for my family to be put through what his family have had to deal with.”
“When I turned pro I had dreams of becoming a world champion but I’m realistic that’s unlikely to happen but I know I can become British champion for Mike.”
Firstly though, the 25 year old returns on March 25th against fellow Welshman Tony Dixon with the Welsh welterweight title up for grabs. The ten-round bout sees a return for boxing to Welsh TV channel S4C after a lengthy absence. Dixon is 8-1 (2) and most people know him for a one-round stoppage defeat to talented Belfast puncher Paddy Gallagher on the Lee Haskins-Ivan Morales undercard last May.
The Mountain Ash prospect gave some experience away in that contest and could be far better than he showed that night.
“That’s the only fight I’ve seen him in to be honest” comments Evans of his co-challenger’s sole loss. “A while ago he came down to spar (former gym-mate) Liam Williams one day and Liam was bigger and technically a lot better so it’s hard to take anything from that.”
“He seems a strong, game lad but I feel my experience and punching power will tell against him. I’m no fancy boxer but I’m physically strong and hit a lot harder than my record says. My record doesn’t do my power justice. I feel I’m one of the biggest punchers in the (147lb) division.”
Evans at 12-3-2 (4) hasn’t got the numbers of a huge hitter but can clearly punch with either his right-hand or thumping left hook. Since leaving Prizefighter as the runner up four years ago, he’s boxed at mostly title level and has shared the ring with quality opposition such as Sam Eggington (twice) as well as (eventual PF champion) Glenn Foot, former British title challenger Adil Anwar and the slick Larry Ekundayo.
During his Prizefighter bid, Evans would out-point Eggington in a crowd-pleaser before the two men would engage in a return with the British and Commonwealth belts on the line some three years later. On that occasion, Stourbridge’s Eggington would recover from an early knock-down to sweep most of the middle rounds before navigating some late trouble to retain by a clear, unanimous decision.
With the first bout being a three-round fight in Prizefighter and the second match occurring with Evans receiving just ten days’ notice, there seems ample reason for the two great rivals to have a decider down the line.
“It would be interesting if we could go at it again with me having a full camp with a title on the line and I think we’d both be interested. I think right now he’s a little further along than me so he’s got to do what’s best for him and his career but it definitely could happen in the future.”
“In the second fight, I had to cram eight weeks training into ten days so I was doing long sparring sessions in the week of the fight. When I dropped him in the first I had two choices; go hell for leather and risk gassing out or try and ease off and wait for my next chance. I picked the latter and it didn’t work out but I did my best.”
“The difference was he was in twelve round shape and I wasn’t.”
The tough and relentless Eggington faces veteran Paulie Malignaggi next week on the Haye-Bellew bill. I ask Dale how he sees his former opponent doing against the brash and out-spoken American in their WBC International clash.
“It’s a very good fight for Sam and I think he’ll stop Malignaggi later on. Whereas Malignaggi’s best days are probably behind him, Sam gets better with every fight and I just think he’ll be too strong for him at this stage.”
Back to his own career, I touch on Evans’ inactivity which has plagued him since his pro bow nearly six years ago…
“It’s very annoying to me as I’d like to fight every month if I could” the Welshman tells Livefight. “It’s frustrated the life out of me for years. There’s usually only a handful of shows in Wales in a year which means I’ve got to sell rucks of tickets to box out of town to get anywhere and have my fans travel miles to come and see me.”
“I’m hoping to be nice and busy in 2017 and I’d like to thank my new sponsors Castle Scaffolding Wales who have been so generous in helping me focus on boxing full-time.
Their help is much appreciated so I want to give big thanks to Jason and Wyn for all of their support.”
Final thoughts on his Welsh title bout next month against “Welsh Terrier” Dixon?
“It’s very good for Welsh boxing that the sport is returning to S4C. It’s going to be a great fight between me and Tony Dixon and a chance for terrestrial viewers to see the Welsh talent coming through.”
“Camp has gone great with my new trainer Tony Borg*, I get great sparring there including (IBF featherweight champion) Lee Selby. I won’t go in against Dixon with a big game-plan or expecting a knock-out. I’ll take it as it comes and if the KO is there great, but we’ll see what he does first and go from there.”
*Evans’ former trainer Gary Lockett is still part of the team as Dale’s manager.
“If all goes well I’m looking to either face Bradley Skeete for the British title or anyone for the vacant belt if he vacates. Whoever I need to beat I’ll face to win that British title for Mike Towell.”
RIP “Iron” Mike Towell 1991-2016
Dale “Big Boy” Evans vs Tony “Welsh Terrier” Dixon goes ahead at the Rhydycar Leisure Centre, Merthyr Tydfil on March 25th. Ten rounds for the Welsh welterweight championship. The contest marks a return for boxing to Welsh terrestrial channel S4C and features a solid undercard featuring some of the best talents in Wales.