Former cricketer Andrew Flintoff’s upcoming boxing debut polarises industry

9 Nov

Alan Dawson – London

Known for his fast-paced bowling, will Freddie’s skills transfer to pugilism? Credit: Jonathon Nalder

Retired cricketer Andrew ‘Freddie’ Flintoff, 34, is to swap the pitch for the prize ring as, on November 30 at the Manchester Arena, the 6’4 former England captain will make his boxing debut against an opponent understood to be Oklahoma-native Richard Dawson (2-0-0, 1ko).

The prospective heavyweight fight, however, has been slammed by one of Britain’s prominent fight promoters, Frank Maloney, who labeled it “dangerous nonsense“. Maloney even prophecised a similar outcome to the one bestowed upon James Cracknell when the ex-rower attempted to box in a charity match against – coincidentally – New Zealand cricketer Kerry Walmsley in a charity bout.

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“Giving Flintoff a professional licence with no experience of boxing is a joke – it gives our sport a bad name,” said Maloney, who oversaw Lennox Lewis’s rise to the top of boxing’s glamour division and is currently striving to replicate that success with undefeated big man David Price, who boxes on the same night as Flintoff, albeit in a different venue.

While Price (14-0-0, 12ko) takes on Matt Skelton (28-6-0, 23ko) in a second defence of his British heavyweight title at the Aintree Equestrian Centre in Liverpool, Flintoff fights in a climax of a three-part reality television series. Maloney continued: “They asked if we could be on the same bill but I would never be involved in promoting something like this. This is nonsense but in our sport it’s dangerous nonsense.

“Olympic rower James Cracknell did something similar, went into a pro heavyweight fight and was knocked out in seconds. They haven’t [officially] named an opponent for Flintoff yet but even if they find some guy who’s lost his first four pro fights, he will still be in against someone with amateur experience. It will be a terrible shock when he gets hit on the chin by a heavyweight.

“It is a disgrace they [the British Boxing Board of Control] have given Flintoff a licence. I told the chairman, Charles Giles, that he should be sacked for approving  this scandal.”

Not everyone in boxing shares Maloney’s disdain for the duel as reigning WBO light heavyweight title holder Nathan Cleverly (24-0-0, 11ko) has given Flintoff his backing. Two weeks ago, Cleverly met Freddie at the Peacock Gym in London and offered him some advice. Clev said: “I believe that boxing is the hardest sport out there and for anyone to step through the ropes proves they’ve got the fire for a fight.

“Freddie’s had a few battles on the cricket pitch with his team mates but when it’s one-on-one in a boxing ring, that’s when you’ve got to really stand and prove your character. I think that Freddie’s made of the tough stuff, he was a beast on the pitch having the Aussies on the run, so he’s got to take that same fire and desire he showed when England won the Ashes in 2005 into the ring with him.

“I said to Freddie that it’s going to be the hardest thing he has done, but the buzz from winning and with the crowd cheering will be well worth it.”

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One Response to “Former cricketer Andrew Flintoff’s upcoming boxing debut polarises industry”

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  1. 2011-2012 News Archive « On The Beak - January 17, 2013

    […] Former cricketer Andrew Flintoff’s upcoming boxing debut polarises industry […]

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