There was a time when Tom Dallas (17-6) was one of the most talked-about heavyweights in Britain. He knocked out all five opponents out in a busy 2009 for the Chatham man, and stopped 3 of 4 opponents the year after. A points win over tough journeyman Zack Page in May 2011 set up a huge domestic clash for the following month against fellow heavyweight hopeful David Price, co-headlining an event at the Liverpool Olympia televised on Sky Sports. A decent showing, even in defeat, would have ensured that Dallas stayed somewhere close to the head of the pack, while a victory would have guaranteed more TV appearances against some of the division’s real elites.

The dream quickly unravelled. Price knocked him out badly in the second round, taking Dallas’ dream for himself, and a rugged Matt Skelton gave Tom a torrid time in his next fight, eventually knocking him out in the fifth. An appearance in the Prizefighter tournament saw him briefly halt the decline with a knockout of Tom Little in the quarter final, only to get knocked out himself in the first round of the semi-final by Tor Hamer. Since then, he has compiled a worrying 1-3 record spread over long periods of inactivity, with all the losses coming via knockout before the end of the second round.

Inexplicably he is once again back for more, headlining a Dove Box Promotions bumper card at the York Hall in Bethnal Green, London, where he rematches former vanquished opponent Tom Little over 10 rounds on February 11th. Little’s career hasn’t exactly soared since their first meeting, but he secured a notable win over Larry Olubamiwo and pushed Dominic Akinlade hard in a points loss for the Southern Area belt last time out.

This clash, though hardly Box Office material, has its merits. Both men have quite a way to go if they are to work themselves back into domestic contention, and facing one-another is a good place to start; Dallas might finally draw some confidence in facing a man he has defeated already, while Little will feel that beating the only man to knock him out is the key to unlocking a brighter future in the sport. With various pros and cons stacked for each man, this fight isn’t a wholly clear-cut affair, and could be an interesting encounter for as long as it lasts.

However, you have to hold some degree of concern for Dallas, who hasn’t looked convincing in recent fights, even in victory. The long layoffs will have denied him competitive consistency, and a willing but occasionally clumsy approach has left his chin open to testing, and he has failed those tests at each time of asking. Little will look to capitalise on this from the outset, knowing that a well-timed punch could swing the action in his favour. Dallas simply must settle himself early, and try to dictate matters with his effective jab. This worked well for him in his last fight, until he hurt his opponent in the second round and got greedy, getting caught flush as he looked for the finishing blow. If Dallas can weather an early storm and keep his head, we might see him stem the tide of losses with a points win or late stoppage.

Also appearing on the bill is Spiros Demetriou, an Edmonton-based cruiserweight who is seeking a shot at the Southern Area title. Currently floating half way between the cruiserweight and light heavyweight limits (he has weighed in at roughly 186lbs for his past three contests), a move down to 175lbs might be feasible when it comes to title fights in the future. For now, though, he keeps busy with a scheduled 8 rounder against a to-be-named opponent as he waits for an opportunity to materialise.

Dominic Akinlade, aforementioned Southern Area heavyweight champion and unbeaten in 9, makes a cameo appearance in a 6 rounder. He will reportedly be fighting for the English title in April (according to his Twitter) with this match serving as a keep-warm fight while the details for the Spring date are finalised. A whole host of boxers continue their boxing education in a collection of four rounders, while several others make their professional debut on a busy and varied card in British boxing’s spiritual home.