Sitting on David Adeleye’s arm is a tattoo of a young boy, pointing towards a boxing glove in front of Wembley Stadium. It depicts a vision, a goal, a future the unbeaten heavyweight saw of himself when he first turned pro. A vision that on Saturday night comes true.
‘This was when I’d just turned pro, I was 1-0, just getting it tattooed on my skin and manifesting it,’ he tells Sportsmail. ‘I got where I came from, where my mum came from and my childhood dream: a little kid, pointing at a boxing glove in front of Wembley Stadium, just to say, “one day I’ll be fighting there.”
Adeleye, as you can tell, practices the art of manifestation. He inks not only his skin but paper too, as he notes down all his intended future endeavours: certain titles, certain opponents, even a certain number of fights.
David Adeleye (L) fights on the undercard of Tyson Fury vs Dillian Whyte at Wembley Stadium
The heavyweight got Wembley Stadium tattooed on his arm after just one professional fight, manifesting what has now turned into a reality
On Saturday night, the first part of the journey comes to fruition, when he fights on the undercard as regular sparring partner Tyson Fury takes on Dillian Whyte in front of 94,000 fans at England’s national stadium.
That’s one goal on the checklist ticked off, then, albeit only partially. ‘In the future I’ll be headlining there,’ he assures. ‘So, this is just a steppingstone, just putting my foot in the water and getting a taste of what it’s going to be like.’
Standing in the way of the Briton’s hopes and dreams is southpaw journeyman Chris Healey (9-8), who the hard-hitting Adeleye unsurprisingly vows to knock out, for what would be his eighth KO in nine fights.
The thud of his venomous punches won’t reverberate around Wembley quite like they would York Hall, the location of his most recent demolition job, but the proposal of any difference in approach or additional nerves is swiftly brushed aside.
‘A fight’s a fight at the end of the day,’ he said. ‘I’d probably feel the same if I was fighting in a pub, no nerves.’ His coach Frank Greaves interjects, insisting: ‘He don’t go to pubs.’ Adeleye jibes: ‘No, I leave that to Frank.’
‘If I was fighting in the gym in front of 10 people it would be the same thing,’ Adeleye continued. ‘It’s exciting, you’ve just got to take it in your stride. It’s a fight at the end of the day. We ain’t playing golf, we’re going out there to punch each other in the mouth.’
A record-breaking 94,000 fans will be crammed inside Wembley Stadium for the bout
It’s a step-up for Adeleye, whose last outing against Dominik Musil was at London’s York Hall
Adeleye will be gunning for another huge KO to take him to eight from nine professional fights
For what is undoubtedly the biggest fight of his young career, the 25-year-old has prepared in equally imposing surroundings, once again joining Fury for the entirety of his eight-week camp alongside fellow sparring partners Joseph Parker, Martin Bakole and Jarrell Miller.
A phenomenal learning experience for the young heavyweight, who has been a part of the WBC champion’s camp since his rematch against Deontay Wilder in 2020.
‘It’s like I’m a student just coming into my fresher’s year,’ Adeleye explains. ‘Tyson’s about to graduate and then you’ve got the lecturers teaching Tyson, also teaching me.
‘I’m a fresher essentially getting the same knowledge as a graduate’s getting, so I’m moving pretty fast. I’m basically sitting in a class of veterans and I’m a fresher – and I’m doing good in my exams.’
A smile breaks out on Adeleye’s face as he’s asked to detail exactly how he fared against Fury. ‘Good,’ is his one-word response. Greaves again adds: ‘He’s there for a reason, because it’s competitive and it gives Tyson different looks and different things that maybe he can’t get elsewhere.’
In fact, so good were the spars – not only against Fury but Parker, Miller and Bakole – that both Adeleye and Greaves insist they would in a flash step-in in place of Whyte, should he pull out at the last minute.
Adeleye was joined by sparring partners Martin Bakole (centre) and Jarrell Miller (centre right)
Also very much in the mix through camp was Fury’s training partner Joseph Parker (centre)
‘A few weeks ago, people were asking if Dillian Whyte was going to turn up,’ Greaves recalled. ‘If we got offered it at two days’ notice, we’d snap your hand off for it.
‘You’ve got to believe in yourself. If it was a day before the fight and Dillian got ill, for example, and they seriously offered Dave the fight, why would we not take the fight?
‘Do I think that David’s ready to go and fight for a world title right now? No, we’re on the journey and it’s all part of the process. Should the opportunity come up at the last minute, and we’re in shape, of course we’d take it. It’s a win-win situation.’
Adeleye continued: ‘That camp was full of future world champions, the rounds there were good. I put up a picture saying ‘I bet you’d like to be a fly on the wall’. And I wasn’t lying – every time sparring finished everyone would be clapping, as if to stay: “wow, good rounds.”
‘And that’s for everyone: Parker, Bakole, Miller, David Nyika. All big boys. You can only imagine what it’s like, the camp’s full of pride.’
Adeleye and Greaves remain primed and ready, but it’s Healey on Saturday who is their current focus.
As is progressing towards a British title shot, which they believe is achievable by the end of the year, with the likes of it Nathan Gorman, Fabio Wardley and Kash Ali named as potential opponents.
Adeleye and Greaves are now ticking over in the gym having completed their eight-week camp
They also both believe there’s only one winner when it comes to this weekend’s main event, with Adeleye insisting: ‘I’ve seen the man in action! He’s where he is for a reason.’ And Greaves stating: ‘There ain’t anything Dillian’s going to do that Tyson hasn’t faced in camp.’
For those on the outside, exactly who Fury is can often seem a mystery: his tone, temperament and very opinions can fluctuate from day to day, interview to interview.
But having spent multiple camps training alongside the Gypsy King, Adeleye has seen behind the mask. ‘I look at him like a big bro,’ he said.
‘In camp you talk, you ask certain questions and I never left thinking I should have asked this or that. I can text or call him and ask anything, sit there and speak to him.
‘He’s cool, man. Tyson will sit in a room of other people, and you wouldn’t know he’s the champion. He’s humble. It’s just banter, he doesn’t have an ego or a chip on his shoulder. It’s like sitting down with one of the boys.’
Advice from someone as successful as Fury can only be beneficial at this stage of Adeleye’s career, but the young fighter already has a smart head on his shoulders.
Adeleye graduated from the University of Wolverhampton with Business Management degree
Staying in education until the age of 21, when he graduated from the University of Wolverhampton with a degree in Business Management, Adeleye is already planning for life after boxing, with business, investments and exiting the sport as healthy as possible his priorities.
But so is creating a legacy inside the ring: ‘They’ll know me for being a mad man!’ he says, on how he wants to be remembered. ‘Someone who took all the fights, dangerous in the ring, willing to let his hands go. I’m going to be known for being a real good fighter.’
That all depends on the outcome of Saturday night’s fight, though, in a bout his dad will be ringside for, a bout his mum will be too nervous about to watch live.
If his boxing again proves on the same level as his manifestation abilities, however, she’ll be able to calmly watch another highlight-reel knockout shortly after – as Adeleye sticks around to watch the main event unfold.