Boxing: Ricky Hatton behind Andrew Flintoff ahead of former cricketer's professional boxing debut

Former England captain fights Richard Dawson tonight

Ricky Hatton is fully behind Andrew Flintoff as the former England cricketer prepares to make his professional boxing debut at Manchester Arena tonight.

The 34-year-old will fight 23-year-old American Richard Dawson over four two-minute rounds in a heavyweight contest.

Flintoff, who weighed in almost two stone lighter than his opponent yesterday at 15 stone six pounds, has been training for four and a half months with former world champion Barry McGuigan and his son Shane.

Flintoff's change of sport has not been welcomed by everyone within boxing, but Hatton told Press Association Sport: "I've got massive respect for him.

"How many sports stars say, 'You know what, I could do cricket, I could do tennis, I could do football but boxing's one game I couldn't do?' Well Freddie's doing it and he deserves the utmost respect for doing it.

"He's right there in the spotlight, talk about the pressure being on, but the one thing is, whether it be cricket or boxing, he's a professional, he's a professional person, and the way he's conducted himself, the way he's prepared for this, with the team behind him, I think it'll be a massive success."

Hatton refuted claims Flintoff is diminishing boxing with the fight, which comes a week after Hatton bowed out of the sport after defeat at Manchester Arena.

"He's got a passion for boxing, I don't think he'd make a mockery of the sport, I don't think the McGuigans would make a mockery of the sport," said Hatton.

"Freddie and the McGuigan team have gone into this totally with their eyes wide open. He deserves to pursue a passion just as much as anyone so let's get behind him and cheer him on and hope he does well."

Flintoff has lost almost three and a half stone in training for the fight, and Hatton added: "He punches as hard as he hits a cricket ball.

"He was in my gym this week and he looks really prepared. And it's not about whether he has one fight or 101 fights or whether he wins a title. He's giving something a go."

Hatton had hoped his comeback after three and a half years in retirement would last longer but he conceded the time was right following his ninth-round knockdown against Vyacheslav Senchenko.

And nearly a week on the 34-year-old, still bearing the scars of battle, knows he made the right decision.

"I feel great," he said. "I had a little bit of a cry in the ring, which was obviously very difficult for me, I wanted to finish on a win and try to finish with a fifth world title.

"But ultimately I got what I wanted from it. I needed to find out whether I still had it, and I sadly haven't, and I'm happy for giving it a go."

PA

News
news
News
peopleIt seems you can't silence Katie Hopkins, even on Christmas Day...
Arts and Entertainment
tvChristmas special reviewed
Arts and Entertainment
Wolf (Nathan McMullen), Ian (Dan Starky), The Doctor (Peter Capaldi), Clara (Jenna Coleman), Santa Claus (Nick Frost) in the Doctor Who Christmas Special (BBC/Photographer: David Venni)
tvOur review of the Doctor Who Christmas Special
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Jenna Coleman as Clara Oswald in the Doctor Who Christmas special
tvForget the rumours that Clara Oswald would be quitting the Tardis
Arts and Entertainment
Japanese artist Megumi Igarashi showing a small mascot shaped like a vagina
art
Life and Style
fashion
Arts and Entertainment
Left to right: Stanley Tucci, Sophie Grabol and Christopher Eccleston in ‘Fortitude’
tvSo Sky Atlantic arrived in Iceland to film their new and supposedly snow-bound series 'Fortitude'...
Arts and Entertainment
tv
News
The Queen delivers her Christmas message
newsTwitter reacts to Her Majesty's Christmas Message
Sport
sport
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

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

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Ashdown Group: Senior Marketing Executive- City of London, Old Street

£40000 - £43000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: Senior Marketing Executiv...

Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager

£40000 - £43000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: An international organisa...

Ashdown Group: Internal Recruiter -Rugby, Warwickshire

£25000 - £30000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Internal Recruiter -Rugby, Warwicksh...

Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager/Marketing Controller (Financial Services)

£70000 - £75000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager/Marketi...

Day In a Page

A Christmas without hope: Fears grow in Gaza that the conflict with Israel will soon reignite

Christmas without hope

Gaza fears grow that conflict with Israel will soon reignite
After 150 years, you can finally visit the grisliest museum in the country

The 'Black Museum'

After 150 years, you can finally visit Britain's grisliest museum
No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

Doctor Who Christmas Special TV review
Chilly Christmas: Swimmers take festive dip for charity

Chilly Christmas

Swimmers dive into freezing British waters for charity
Veterans' hostel 'overwhelmed by kindness' for festive dinner

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

Ed Balls interview

'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
He's behind you, dude!

US stars in UK panto

From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect
Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

Autism-friendly theatre

Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all