Dave Allen, David Price, Oscar Rivas and Dillian Whyte face key heavyweight contests at the O2 Arena
Whyte v Rivas & Allen v Price
Venue: O2 Arena, London Date: 20 July
Coverage: Live text commentary on the BBC Sport website

A heavyweight overlooked, a challenger capable of wrecking plans, a reformed fighter turned cult hero and a boxer with pedigree who knows his career is on the line.

Saturday’s heavyweight action at London’s O2 Arena is laced with narrative.

Britain’s Dillian Whyte will bid to prove himself yet again in facing Colombian Oscar Rivas, safe in the knowledge that any slip-up will end his short-term hopes of landing the world-title shot many in boxing believe he deserves.

Also on the card is the all-British bout involving reformed gambling addict Dave Allen and David Price, who admits he is fighting for his future.

Why is Whyte v Rivas key?

How many punches can you throw in 12 seconds?

Londoner Whyte, 31, has reeled off nine wins since his only loss to Anthony Joshua in 2016, form that has seen him become number-one ranked by the WBC.

His ranking – held for more than 600 days – should have secured a shot at American WBC heavyweight champion Deontay Wilder and Whyte’s team have lobbied to ensure he gets that chance if he beats an opponent who has 26 wins from 26 bouts.

“I’m probably the most underestimated boxer in the world,” said Whyte. “This for Rivas is his world title, or whatever. He thinks everyone is overlooking him and he’s going to prove this and he’s going to prove that.”

Whyte turned down the chance to face Joshua in April, describing the financial offer he received as “derisory” and his fellow Briton went on to lose his three world titles to Andy Ruiz Jr on 1 June.

But he has earned a respect in the sport for taking risky fights and goes into this latest bout as a 1-4 favourite with bookmakers. Rivas, though, has eyes on following Mexico’s Ruiz in shaking up the division with a shock.

The 32-year-old Colombian said: “Whyte is a really strong guy, but I think with my technique, my speed, my power, my experience, I’m going to get on top. I’m going to be the last man standing.”

A fan hero and last-chance saloon

Allen has found focus since working with former world middleweight champion Darren Barker (right)

For now, Allen and Price are not concerned with global titles and instead know defeat on the undercard would decimate their hopes of big-money fights in the coming months.

Allen, 27, has plotted a remarkable route through the sport.

He has said that his gambling addiction forced him to fight the dangerous Luis Ortiz at short notice in 2016 as he desperately needed money and he has openly spoken about being unable to focus on the sport.

But an openness on social media, coupled with a run of four straight wins, has endeared him to fans, who bullishly sang “there’s only one Dave Allen” after his impressive win over Lucas Browne in April.

The Doncaster-born fighter has now gained control of his addiction. Having been told by his father that people were laughing at him in 2017, gone are the days of boxing in a pair of walking shoes or surviving on a binge diet. A focus has been found.

“A year ago I was ready to retire,” said Allen, who has 17 wins, four defeats and two draws.

“I’m living a life I never thought I would and I want it to continue. I was plodding along and I thought: ‘I want better than this.’ I have bought my own house. I thought: ‘why not try and be better.’ I know if I train hard I can beat Price and go on and on.

“This is the one that could really set me up for the rest of my career and life.”

Both Allen and Price have said they are “desperate” for a win given a defeat would limit their immediate options.

For 36-year-old Price, a loss could even spell the end of a career which promised so much when he claimed gold at the 2006 Commonwealth Games and bronze at the 2008 Olympics.

“I’m fighting for my future,” said Price, who has 24 wins and six defeats.

“I have over 100 fights as an amateur and professional. Physically, mentally and emotionally I feel I’m coming into my time and it’s the right time for me to strike. I am going to go out there to let the power shots go from the go.”

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