England news November 14, 2012

Flintoff defends move into boxing

ESPNcricinfo staff

Andrew Flintoff has hit out at suggestions that his professional boxing debut at 34, more than two years since his retirement from international cricket, is little more than a TV publicity stunt.

Flintoff will make his professional debut at the Manchester Arena against Richard Dawson - a little-known American pugilist, not the former England spinner - amid widespread criticism from the boxing fraternity and fears within cricket for his welfare.

The boxing promoter, Frank Warren, has described Flintoff's debut as "car crash TV", while another promoter, Frank Maloney, has called it a "scandal". Colin Hart, the highly-regarded boxing correspondent of The Sun, has dubbed him Foolish Freddie and said he did not know whether to laugh or cry.

But Flintoff, who claims to have lost 45lbs (20.4kgs) in weight during a training camp which has been filmed for a three-part TV series, insists he could not have withstood four months of intensive training is his intentions were not to succeed in his new career.

"You couldn't go through this for a TV stunt," he said. "If I was looking for a publicity stunt I'd have picked something easier. There has been criticism of things I've done in the past. I'm just getting my head down and doing the best I can.

"I appreciate that people want to protect the sport they're involved in. I'd be the same with cricket. I'm hoping this is something where boxing is celebrated because it's not my intention to cheapen the sport or show it up.

Flintoff had been due to announce his opponent on Friday but Dawson, who has won his two fights on points, jumped the gun by confirming that it was him.

A spokesman for Dawson was quoted as saying: "It will be a wonderful experience. We respect Mr Flintoff as an athlete and from everything we've read he appears to be a well -conditioned athlete. However, he does not appear to have any fight experience and even though we know he has been training with some of the best in the business, that is not the same as being in a prize fight."

Flintoff, who is training under the supervision of the former WBA featherweight champion, Barry McGuigan, claims to have given up beer to get himself in shape, will contest four two-minute rounds against Dawson, who has won both of his bouts.

McGuigan said: "What we're doing is the opposite of cheapening the sport, it's promoting it. You see the pain and anguish Freddie goes through. How can that be negative in promoting the sport? To say it cheapens boxing is a complete and utter load of nonsense. Freddie has worked his nuts off and we're promoting the sport in a very positive way."

Even McGuigan accepted at a private screening of the forthcoming TV series that Flintoff, who played 79 Tests and 141 ODIs for England, was not a natural and was technically limited.

Since retirement, he has been a captain on sports panel show A League of Their Own, the celebrity face of Morrisons supermarket, a guest commentator (briefly) on the world darts championships and star of Freddie Flintoff vs The World, in which, according to promotional material, you could watch "cricketing legend and ultimate bloke Freddie Flintoff try his hand at some of the most extreme sports and challenges on offer around the world".

He has his limits, though, vowing never to do I'm A Celebrity Get Me Out Of Here or Strictly Come Dancing, on which several former England cricketers have appeared, currently including Michael Vaughan.

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • John on November 17, 2012, 18:44 GMT

    @John Firth on (November 14 2012, 21:25 PM GMT) LOL - They are right but at the same time they would be milking it if they had him. Warren never gives any British boxer credit unless he promotes the fighter. Carl Froch (who's fighting tonight) being a perfect example. PS He's also contradicting himself a little as he is part owner of a tv channel called Boxnation. Guess who's showing the fight?

    @SCC08 on (November 16 2012, 05:25 AM GMT) He will obviously be matched with as safe an opponent as possible but (and you're obviously not too clued re boxing) there are weight divs so there's no way he'll be fighting a 5ft dwarf. BTW careful matchmaking is not just an England thing

  • John on November 17, 2012, 18:44 GMT

    Re Flintoff boxing. I can't understand how such an injury prone cricketer would be able to go through the far more intense training a boxer has to do without breaking down. The other thing is that I can't believe he's headlining the MEN. It's huge and even Ricky Hatton is struggling to sell out his comeback fight and that against a decent opponent - the opposite of what Flintoff's doing. Also I feel it is disrespectful to have this fight listed as a headline fight when it'll prob only be a 4 or 6 rounder and you have established unbeaten fighters like Vassall and Saunders on the undercard. They must feel really peeved.

    Re Mcguigan's comms "What we're doing is the opposite of cheapening the sport, it's promoting it" - It's actually doing both

  • Andrew on November 17, 2012, 12:19 GMT

    @Chris Daws - no, Freddie was an all time great bloke, not allrounder!

  • Dummy4 on November 16, 2012, 10:06 GMT

    @SCC08 I've no idea why we're so overrated, sports-wise. I mean who cares about holding the ashes? And we're equally bad at other sports. I mean 29 golds at the Olympics? pathetic, way worse than Australia's 7. You're right, you're sooo right.

    In the interests of balance I should point out that I agree with RandyOZ (oddly), over the course of his entire career Flintoff's figures were distinctly ordinary. But when he was good, he was very good, unfortunately that wasn't very often. Rajiv Radhakrishnan and Front-Foot_lunge both make excellent points. I would argue though that Flintoff is seen as more of a hero because of the man he is, not the cricketer he was, he's got a man in the street quality the public can relate to.

  • MOHAMMAD on November 16, 2012, 8:51 GMT


  • Steven on November 16, 2012, 5:25 GMT

    Knowing England.. Freddie will fight some 5 foot dwarf and will end up being labelled the next boxing Superstar. Why are Poms so overated?

  • front on November 15, 2012, 22:28 GMT

    The problem with English cricketers and by extension England, is that as other posters have pointed out, Flintoff only ever had one good series against Australia. On the back of that he is heralded as a hero.The same goes for my England, we only ever measure ourselves against our ashes performances. It seems our cricketing subjugation to Australia continues now, even though we hold the ashes, as we can only measure ourselves to Australia's standard.

  • Dummy4 on November 15, 2012, 18:19 GMT

    @RandyOz, an average cricketer? Ha. When Flintoff was fit and in form, he was an all time great. See 2003/4-2006. He was the best player in the world. I would take a fit and firing Flintoff in any world XI I'd make.

  • Dummy4 on November 15, 2012, 16:17 GMT

    I find it amazing that a player who had ONE very good series v Australia is remembered as an outstanding all rounder. He was not. He collected just 3 five wicket halls, and made only 5 100's. His bowling average was nearly 33! His batting average was less than 32! These are not the stats of a super star. I remember when he got those 5 wickets at Lords in 2009 v Australia. Everytime he took a wicket he celebrated with arms wide up in the air, such arrogance. Yet the quieter guys, Robin Smith, Graham Thorpe are not remembered at all, even though they were consistently far better. So Freddie is now trying boxing, judging by his cricket, he only needs one good fight to be remembered!

  • Dummy4 on November 15, 2012, 10:30 GMT

    Flintoff can do it he is strong man and he can be boxer champion

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