I’ve just seen Andrew “Freddie” Flintoff’s professional boxing debut... a winning debut at that... and I’d like to share a few thoughts.
Even in the build-up to the fight against American Richard Dawson, opinion has been divided as to whether or not Flintoff should have been granted a license to box and whether or not the reputation of the sport would be potentially damaged by what many saw as a “gimmick”.
Having watched the four-round contest, I think it’s fair to say that Freddie was a bit green, or raw... but he’s only been seriously involved in boxing for a matter of months, so his technique was never going to be flawless. Defensively, he left himself open – in fact he was knocked down in the second round – and I would suggest that a more experienced fighter than Dawson might have better exposed Freddie’s naivety.
When he came forward, his right hooks were almost “bowled” so round was his arm, but (and this is a “but” of the big variety) what Flintoff lacked in craft and skill, he more than made up for in strength and courage.
Let’s be honest Dawson is more of a blubberweight than a heavyweight, but there’s nowhere to hide inside a boxing ring and there’s potentially a lot more than just your reputation at stake when punches are being aimed at your head. I can’t speak from personal experience, but if you get hit by a 241lb bloke (who may not be in prime condition, but is still very strong) it’s going to hurt... probably quite a lot... and irrespective of how much training you’ve done and how much ability you have, boxing is incredibly tough and obviously not without risks...
Freddie Flintoff is an iconic figure, a cricketing legend, who clearly craves a challenge that is both sporting and personal. Boxing provides those tests and offers him an opportunity to prove (even if it is only to himself) that he can meet and even overcome a new challenge without ten other team mates there to help him if things don’t go according to plan.
I am sure the opposing views will remain, but for me, Freddie Flintoff is a man who really has nothing to prove, but whose bravery and determination I both salute... and totally admire.
All my own work... almost.