Ups & Downs: Dale Evans calls time on his career

Evans retires
Wales' Dale Evans throwing a right hand.

‘Big Boy’ of Wales, United Kingdom, has decided to call time on his boxing career. The 26-year-old, orthodox boxer, trained by Gary Lockett has a final record of 13-4-2, 4 KOs. Seventeen fights and it’s been a journey, that’s seen highs and lows.

At the age of nine, his grandfather took him to Carmarthen ABC. Dale never looked back. He won 60 of 75, bouts including picking up two Youth titles. He made the final of the Welsh seniors, losing to future Olympian Fred Evans.

He turned professional in October 2011. His debut opponent was veteran Matt Seawright, on a Steve Sims promotion, at the Newport Centre, South Wales. His second bout was closer to home, in Wales’ second city Swansea. On a Paul Boyce Promotions card, he battled to a draw with Leon Findlay, over four rounds. I was ringside for Dales’ third bout, a second-round stoppage of Kyle Winters. In this fight, a right-hand had Winters in trouble, enough for the referee to halt the onslaught. Evans showed from this fight and through his career, that he was very heavy-handed and with either hand. Next the Rhondda and a first-round stoppage over Johnny Creamer, that was followed up with a win in Kensington, London, over four rounds, against journeyman Kevin McCauley.

With only five fights, Evans entered the Prizefighter Tournament, in 2013. Shown live on Sky Sports and promoted by Eddie Hearn’s Matchroom Boxing, this was the kind of opportunity that needed to be grabbed with both hands. Evans seized the chance to impress. He defeated Sam Eggington in the quarter-finals and the then 25-2 Mark Thompson in the semis. In the final, he met another tough, talented fighter in Glenn Foot. Two of the three judges gave it to Foot, by a point, but could certainly have gone in the Welshman’s favour. Three fights in a night and in front of a large, live TV audience at the Civic Hall, Wolverhampton. Dale Evans had shown the British public that he could mix it and put the welterweight division on alert.

Evans cracks Eggington with a left hook.

‘Big Boy’ was back on the road, this time Bolton, England. He defeated tough journeyman William Warburton. Warburton would go on to defeat a couple of Welsh prospects, but Evans passed the test, winning a six-round points decision. February 1st, 2014, big-time boxing landed in Cardiff, Wales. A stacked card, at the Motorpoint Arena, that featured Gavin Rees vs Gary Buckland, Lee Selby, Anthony Joshua, Chris Jenkins and many more, saw Evans take on Erick ‘The Eagle’ Ochieng. The re-scheduled bout saw impressive boxing and body punching from Evans. Ochieng took a few rounds to get going but in the seventh caught Dale. The Welshman weathered the storm and came back well in the eighth and final round. It was a good scalp over the enigmatic, talented Ochieng.

Dale’s next fight was back at Cardiff’s Motorpoint Arena. Matchroom Boxing once again in town. The card featured Gavin Rees vs Gary Buckland 2, Nathan Cleverly, Lee Selby and Callum Smith on a big card. The opponent was Berkshire’s Mark Douglas, who turned up and gave Evans all he could handle. The Welsh warrior was down in the second and badly cut in the fourth, from an accidental head clash. The bout was called a technical draw, as four rounds hadn’t been completed. It was action-packed and Evans was back in the fight after a rocky start. He was showing heart, grit to go along with those heavy hands. 2014 ended with a six-round points win over Adam Grabiec, at the Camden Centre, London.

2015 started with a contest against the talented London Nigerian, Larry ‘The Natural’ Ekundayo. Preparation hadn’t gone well for Evans and his trainer Gary Lockett wasn’t in the corner, on the night. At York Hall, Bethnal Green, Larry was cut above the left eye in the second round. Evans down early in the fifth, he beat the count but the referee stopped it, after a follow-up attack.

The Carmarthenshire boxer rebounded to defeat Yorkshireman Adil Anwar, in Sheffield. Anwar hit the canvas three times en route to an eight-round points decision. Anwar was a good win, on the record, and the time of performance Evans needed to get back into British title contention.

In October 2015, the big chance came in the shape of former foe Sam Eggington. Eggington’s career had come on leaps and bounds since their first meeting. The British & Commonwealth titles, on the line but the notice was short. In Birmingham, ‘Big Boy’ dropped Sam in the second but ended up losing on points over the twelve rounds. He tired as the fight went on, due to the lack of training time beforehand. But, he gave it a go and there is no shame in losing to a talent like Eggington.

2016 started well with a six-round points win over Yorkshireman Ryan Hardy. The Frank Warren card featured Liam Williams, Guillermo Rigondeaux, Terry Flanagan, plus future opponent Bradley Skeete. Evans won over six rounds and it set up a British title eliminator.

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On 29th March 2016 at Radisson Blu Hotel, Glasgow, the Welshman fought Dundee boxer, Mike Towell. Both men entered the ring, with a reputation for being punchers. Towell was down in the first and the fifth before the bout was waved off. He left the ring on a stretcher and was taken to the hospital. Sadly, he passed away the next day. A devastated Evans attended the funeral.

The Welshman retired but then came back, vowing to win the British title in memory of Mike Towell. He defeated Kevin McCauley, in 2017, in a warm-up fight, at Brangwyn Hall, Swansea. The four-rounder, one of the few times that the Carmarthenshire man got, relatively, close to a home fight. He’d spent his career travelling to train (in Cardiff) and around the UK to box. It takes a lot of determination and dedication to box; more so when you have to do things away from your hometown.

A shot at the British welterweight title arrived in July 2018, at London’s Copper Box Arena. The tricky, Bradley Skeete was the opponent. Skeete is a swift mover, who is very good at keeping the distance between himself and his opponent. Evans just wasn’t able to get enough opportunities to take the fight to Skeete. Skeete retained his title, on points, over twelve rounds. The Londoner is getting a European title-shot next, against hard-hitting Spaniard Kerman Lejarraga. It’s a shot that Evans was offered and initially accepted. But in 2018, the motivation is no longer there.

Dale released this statement:

“After some time out and questioning, if I would fight again, a big fight was offered. As always I jumped at it. But the spark, the hunger and the determination wasn’t there. Just worry and fear, I’ll openly admit. That’s why I have made the decision I have.”

A career that saw exciting fights, large crowds and boxing in front of large TV audiences has come to an end. Only 26, it’s been a helluva journey and Dale has been a fantastic servant to the sport. We wish him all the best in retirement.

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