Sky 1 teaser shows Flintoff in boxing gear
London, Sept. 6: Andrew Flintoff is planning to relaunch his career as a professional heavyweight boxer.
The former England captain, who retired from cricket in 2010, is to box at the MEN Arena, Manchester, on November 30.
Flintoff, 34, will be mentored by Barry McGuigan, the former WBA featherweight champion, whose son Shane has been training him for the past month. Shane also trains Carl Frampton, the Commonwealth super-bantamweight champion.
“This is an amazing opportunity to try a sport that I love, to be tutored by a man I respect and admire and, at the age of 34, the chance to be a professional sportsman again,” Flintoff said. “It’s a huge challenge — probably the biggest I have ever undertaken, especially in such a short time frame. I have a long road ahead and a lot of work in front of me. The stakes are high.”
No opponent has been announced, but tickets for the bout go on sale tomorrow, with ringside seats costing £100.
Unlike with previous cases of celebrity boxing, Flintoff, also known as Freddie, says he is to compete in a proper professional bout, although his application for a licence has not yet been received by the British Boxing Board of Control.
However, the licence application process normally lasts anything up to six weeks, giving Flintoff enough time to apply in the near future and fight — if his application is successful — on the November date.
A two-part documentary about Flintoff's preparations — entitled The Gloves Are Off... — is to be shown on Sky 1, while the bout itself is to be screened on BoxNation. “It is an enormous undertaking to have a professional fight having no experience whatsoever,” Barry McGuigan said. “It is even more demanding when you’re a legend in another sport.”
McGuigan added: “The pressure for Freddie, myself and my son is phenomenal given the little time we have. But I’m convinced Freddie will make a successful pro debut as a boxer.”
Flintoff is a long-standing boxing fan, having been a regular at ringside for bouts featuring Ricky Hatton and Amir Khan. In the past he even trained with Hatton.
He will be boxing at the same venue where Hatton first became a world champion by beating Kostya Tszyu in 2005. Flintoff had tickets for that bout, but was unable to attend as it started at 2am and he was playing in a Test match against Bangladesh at Durham. England had been close to winning the match in two days, even claiming the extra half hour on the Saturday evening, but were unable to finish off the Bangladesh tail much to Flintoff's frustration.
Flintoff is not the first former England cricket captain to try his hand at boxing. Adam Hollioake made his professional debut at the age of 40 in April, stopping his opponent in the fourth round. He has since gone on to have a mixed martial arts fight, but is due to return to boxing next month.
Going back more than a century, Johnny (J.W.H.T.) Douglas was somewhat more accomplished and won the middleweight gold medal at the 1908 Olympic Games.