Boxing: Freddie was ready, but this was pure farce

The former cricketer won his first fight, but it wasn't boxing's finest hour

Since retiring from cricket, Andrew "Freddie" Flintoff has been on a mission to entertain. He has cliff-dived in Acapulco, ridden bulls in Texas, and even turned his hand to fashion designing, with a catalogue clothing line for the big-boned.

But he might have overstepped the mark with his latest venture, professional boxing. Critics dubbed his Friday night fight "a mockery" despite the result: a Flintoff victory over an American opponent, Richard Dawson, who looked as if he'd missed the memo to lay off the pies in the pre-match build up.

For some, the smiles had started earlier that day, with the pictures of Flintoff, 34, in his Union flag boxers at the weigh-in providing amusement to those stuck watching Sky News on a loop. Five months off the booze and a rigid training regime devised by the former world champion Barry McGuigan and his son Shane had done the trick abs-wise, but there was still something vaguely odd about fisticuffs Freddie getting ready for the ring.

As shows go, the evening was pure farce. But this wasn't theatre and the thousands watching were looking for more than mindless entertainment. The 6,000-strong Manchester crowd, which included front-rowers Darren Gough, Rob Key, Steve Harmison, Jack Whitehall and John Bishop, got their drama in the second of the four two-minute rounds, when the 23-year-old Dawson landed his only punch of the night, a left hook.

It was – briefly – nerve-wracking stuff, but Flintoff managed to blurt out his name during a standing count of eight and his win quickly followed. Despite Flintoff's fitness, even McGuigan will concede this was a match of novices, and technically Flintoff is probably still a cricketer.

That said, McGuigan was quick to bat off any suggestion this was anything other than A Very Serious Boxing Match. "Don't besmirch me," he said yesterday. "It was a very difficult fight for him. Anyone that says anything else is jealous and a green-eyed monster."

McGuigan added: "Yes, he got excited. Yes, he lost his composure a bit. But we proved resoundingly that he was prepared properly. We weren't trying to mock the game. We were celebrating this sport. It wasn't a publicity stunt, it was honest. How could it be anything other than that?"

The promoter Frank Maloney, who managed Lennox Lewis, has his theories. "As a spectator event it was a success, but as a boxing event it was a mockery. Henry Cooper would have been turning in his grave. After Dawson's punch was thrown, his [Flintoff's] eyes were wobbly, his head was wobbly. The American never threw another punch."

Whether Flintoff will return to the ring for a second go is something he intends to decide after Christmas. Maloney, for one, is imploring him to hang up those gloves. "He'll get hurt if he doesn't stop. How many more Mexican road sweepers can they dig up from the ground to fight him?" he said.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Web Developer - PHP

£32000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: With extensive experience and a...

Barnardo's: Corporate Audit and Inspection – Retail Intern (Leeds)

Unpaid - £4 lunch allowance plus travel to and from work: Barnardo's: Purpose ...

Recruitment Genius: Content Writer - Global Financial Services

£25000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: From modest beginnings the comp...

Recruitment Genius: Web Developer - PHP

£35000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: From modest beginnings the comp...

Day In a Page

The Silk Roads that trace civilisation: Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places

The Silk Roads that trace civilisation

Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places
House of Lords: Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled

The honours that shame Britain

Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled
When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race

'When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race'

Why are black men living the stereotypes and why are we letting them get away with it?
International Tap Festival: Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic

International Tap Festival comes to the UK

Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic
War with Isis: Is Turkey's buffer zone in Syria a matter of self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Turkey's buffer zone in Syria: self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Ankara accused of exacerbating racial division by allowing Turkmen minority to cross the border
Doris Lessing: Acclaimed novelist was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show

'A subversive brothel keeper and Communist'

Acclaimed novelist Doris Lessing was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show
Big Blue Live: BBC's Springwatch offshoot swaps back gardens for California's Monterey Bay

BBC heads to the Californian coast

The Big Blue Live crew is preparing for the first of three episodes on Sunday night, filming from boats, planes and an aquarium studio
Austin Bidwell: The Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England with the most daring forgery the world had known

Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England

Conman Austin Bidwell. was a heartless cad who carried out the most daring forgery the world had known
Car hacking scandal: Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked

Car hacking scandal

Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked
10 best placemats

Take your seat: 10 best placemats

Protect your table and dine in style with a bold new accessory
Ashes 2015: Alastair Cook not the only one to be caught in The Oval mindwarp

Cook not the only one to be caught in The Oval mindwarp

Aussie skipper Michael Clarke was lured into believing that what we witnessed at Edgbaston and Trent Bridge would continue in London, says Kevin Garside
Can Rafael Benitez get the best out of Gareth Bale at Real Madrid?

Can Benitez get the best out of Bale?

Back at the club he watched as a boy, the pressure is on Benitez to find a winning blend from Real's multiple talents. As La Liga begins, Pete Jenson asks if it will be enough to stop Barcelona
Athletics World Championships 2015: Beijing witnesses new stage in the Jessica Ennis-Hill and Katarina Johnson-Thompson heptathlon rivalry

Beijing witnesses new stage in the Jess and Kat rivalry

The last time the two British heptathletes competed, Ennis-Hill was on the way to Olympic gold and Johnson-Thompson was just a promising teenager. But a lot has happened in the following three years
Jeremy Corbyn: Joining a shrewd operator desperate for power as he visits the North East

Jeremy Corbyn interview: A shrewd operator desperate for power

His radical anti-austerity agenda has caught the imagination of the left and politically disaffected and set a staid Labour leadership election alight
Isis executes Palmyra antiquities chief: Defender of ancient city's past was killed for protecting its future

Isis executes Palmyra antiquities chief

Robert Fisk on the defender of the ancient city's past who was killed for protecting its future