Boxing: Prepare to see Andrew Flintoff as you’ve never seen him before when the former England cricketer makes his professional boxing debut tomorrow night against unheralded US pugilist Richard Dawson.
Better known for his role in England’s historic Ashes victories over Australia, Flintoff has whipped himself into fighting shape with the help of boxing legend Barry McGuigan and the Irishman’s son Shane.
His decision to swap the more serene surroundings of the cricket pitch for the square ring has raised eyebrows, but the Lancastrian, who will be fighting at heavyweight, has rejected claims that his foray into the sweet science is little more than a publicity stunt.
Boxing promoter Frank Maloney has questioned the decision of the British Boxing Board of Control to award Flintoff with a licence, but the 34-year-old former all-rounder insisted yesterday that he is serious about the task ahead.
“It’ll be a competitive contest,” said Flintoff, who fights on the undercard of the Commonwealth welterweight title clash between Ronnie Heffron and Denton Vassell. “You can’t go into this for a bit of fun, it’s a serious sport and a serious business. He’s come here to try and win, as have I.”
Flintoff weighed in at a trim 216lbs for the bout at Manchester’s MEN, compared with Dawson who tipped the scales at a considerably heavier 241lbs.
So what to expect from this fight? Certainly McGuigan is a shrewd operator and will have carefully selected his charge’s opponent in Dawson, 2-0, whose two victories have come over a debutant and a fighter with a record of 0-4.
Flintoff appears in excellent shape and has been described as a “decent heavyweight” by McGuigan. We’ll know soon if that assessment is accurate.