Wild, reckless but entertaining, Freddie Flintoff beats Richard Dawson in boxing debut

30 Nov

Alan Dawson – London

Freddie Flintoff‘s transition from cricket to boxing was by no means smooth. His boxing style was rugged, wild, careless and sloppy, particularly when compared to his moderately skillful opponent Richard Dawson, who showed okay defence, elusiveness and an ability to counter on November 30 at the Manchester Arena. Flintoff, though, made up for his inferior boxing talent with an arena-full of heart, determination and courage. Freddie… from opening bell to closing, looked to bowl his opposition out and received a reception normally reserved for British boxing’s elite…

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Dawson’s scorecard

Round 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12
9 10 10 9

10 8 10

Official verdict: Flintoff wins via referee’s decision (39-38).

Clad in Lancashire cricket colours, Flintoff (1-0-0, 0ko) walked to the ring to the sounds of Oasis smash hit Roll With It. Flintoff looked calm and lapped up the reception. When it was time to introduce the combatants, Dawson (2-1-0, 1ko), flown in from Oklahoma, took on the role of ring villain, while Flintoff adopted an affably arrogant pose.

Flintoff, impressively, threw the first punch, the first power punch, and was the clear ring general. The former England cricketer with 79 Test caps, was hyper on his feet, kept his left glove at chin level and jabbed well to the head and body. Dawson, in contrast, was tentative – perhaps fazed at an atmosphere befitting of a Ricky Hatton, Amir Khan or David Haye event.

Between rounds (contested at two minutes apiece), Flintoff’s support was extraordinary – especially for a debutant. However, the din was quietened at the beginning of the second as the home favourite suffered a knockdown… a knockdown that had Flintoff rattled as Freddie looked toward his corner and, when vertical, clearly had weakened knees/legs. The cause of the knockdown was arguably Flintoff’s own doing as he was bum-rushing Dawson, throwing wildly and Dawson took advantage of the situation and canvassed the Englishman with a crafty left hook.

In the third, Flintoff looked to land money punches when Dawson had his back to the ropes but, while the crowd lapped up the aggression, in truth… the shots were harmlessly parried away by the more experienced pugilist. The American was far more accurate with his output and, at the round’s end, double… almost triple jabbed his man, however, Flintoff – in the eyes of the ringside judges – may have won the round based on his activity.

With windmilling arms, Flintoff clearly had an appetite for a knockout and, like he had throughout the fight, looked to get his man out of there. Dawson was, by far, the more skilled technician and actually knew how to box, but he lacked initiative and desire – something Flintoff had in abundance. Dawson was able to negate Flintoff’s attack largely by backing away, tying up and employing defence, but he threw little back and ultimately paid the price as Freddie won a referee’s decision.

“As a personal achievement, this is the best,” an elated Flintoff said to Box Nation after his victory. “It’s not been easy for me. But the feel of being back in front of a crowd… and winning! I’ve got friends, family and strangers here all cheering me on… humbling.”

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