DAVID ADELEYE is the challenger and a heavy betting underdog but the Londoner is adamant he arrived here in Riyadh already ‘2-0 up’ following a year on Fabio Wardley’s case.
This fight almost never happened when the pair and their teams brawled on a west London red carpet during the summer. Wardley needed stitches in a cut and it looked like that would be that.
But it was not enough to prevent these two tangling in Saudi Arabia where not only significant financial gain but British and Commonwealth heavyweight titles await the winner.
While Wardley and his team have been insistent on playing down the altercation, which occurred minutes before the pair were due to officially announce the fight at a press conference that was eventually canned, Adeleye has taken much from it.
“It feels like it’s 1-0 to me, I’m not going to lie,” said Adeleye, who pushed Wardley hard in the chest when the Ipswich man walked towards him.
“He is doing an interview and he walks over, if you listen I’m telling him ‘who are you walking to?’ He’s a 17st heavyweight, I ain’t letting him walk up to me.
“You have to retaliate and ask questions later. I have to have my wits about me. He might say after he was coming to give me a hug and I’d be like ‘fuck me, sorry’. You won’t know until you ask. I live by the code of I’d rather be safe than sorry.
“Now I do have something over him, I pushed him, I know he knows what sort of strength I’ve got, he went flying, I am solid. I’d thought he would be a bit more firm. He walked over coming into battle with his chin out, he’s just a donut. He’s shown me certain things. It’s 1-0 to me, top bins.”
For many involved with the fight that evening meant blind panic given the possibility of this unique opportunity in Saudi slipping away. For Adeleye, however, it was business as usual.
“I didn’t give it too much thought,” he says. “I went home, had my dinner and life was good, it was just another day in the office.
“There were calls that it wasn’t going to happen, they wanted more money, they wanted to charge money, and call the police. It was a load of malarky going on.
“They started to realise what a laid back guy I was, I think they thought it was going to get in my head, that they could unsettle me and I’d reach out. When they realised it wasn’t working, we got a call a couple of weeks later that the fight was happening, but we knew the fight was happening.”
Over the years, the pair have both made a name on the sparring circuit with the biggest names in the division but have never crossed swords behind closed doors themselves.
However, Adeleye claims that they were supposed to last year only for Wardley to withdraw due to illness.
“We were meant to spar last year,” he explains. “I was told I was to spar him, I went to Ben Davison’s gym. I get to the gym and I’m halfway through my warm up and I’m told Wardley is not coming. I’m like, ‘what?’. He turned around the motorway and said he didn’t feel well. I thought, ‘what an absolute shithouse’. We never ended up sparring.
“That was the only time we were meant to spar. We never bumped into each other on the circuit. We were on different trajectories, he turned pro before me and I was doing the amateur route. I asked my coach to reschedule but it never happened.
“That day I just ended up sparring someone else, some of the other boys at the gym. So I guess that makes it 2-0 to me. Top bins again.”