Bruised Flintoff celebrates winning his boxing debut as McGuigan insists it did not shame the sport
13:42 GMT, 1 December 2012
Barry McGuigan has hit out at the notion that Andrew Flintoff's boxing experience is belittling to the sport.
Former England cricket star Flintoff recovered from a second-round knockdown to claim a debut points victory against limited American novice Richard Dawson over four two-minute rounds at the Manchester Arena.
He later celebrated with his wife Rachael and friends at the Arora Hotel in the city. The star was sporting a black eye from his efforts.
Hello, fighter: Flintoff is cornered by two affectionate supporters at the party at the Arora Hotel in Manchester
Now for the party: Flintoff leaps out of the taxi followed by his wife Rachael
The 34-year-old's preparations for the bout were charted in a Sky television documentary, causing many in the boxing fraternity to question his motives for stepping into the ring.
Those looking to chastise Flintoff were given further ammunition last night as a crude, scrappy contest predictably developed – not that it seemed too much of a concern for the boisterous 6,000-strong crowd in attendance, who were vocally behind their hero throughout.
Respected former WBA featherweight champion McGuigan, who oversaw the ex-Lancashire all-rounder's painstaking four-and-a-half month training camp alongside son and trainer Shane, had nothing but high praise for Flintoff but turned his fire on critics afterwards.
'We never belittled the sport,' he said. 'We were never in this, in any way, to belittle boxing. Those who said that were idiots. We're in this to show how serious he was about it.
Scroll down to hear from Freddie after the fight
Job done: Andrew Flintoff celebrated after beating Richard Dawson in the four-round bout
Winner: Andrew Flintoff
Frenzied: Flintoff sprayed Richard Dawson with shots
'We never pretended that he was
anything other than a novice but we told everyone he was going to give
it everything he's got and I think in the fight he showed that.
'He was knocked down, he got up,
showed pluck and courage. His technique went out of the window because
he wanted to win so much and had the crowd behind him. But it was
honest. Everything about what we've done over the past four and a half
months was honest.
'He's a generous, genuine fella and I
think this was a personal battle for him too – he wanted to show that
he had the courage to go through with something like this and I think he
won that battle.'
Flintoff, who conceded his ring bow
'wasn't one for the purists', does not expect to dissuade the doubters
and fully understands the degree of ill-feeling around a first bout that
may also prove to be his last.
Whoops: Flintoff was caught flush in the second round
Gotcha: Freddie catches Dawson on the chin
Baying: The crowd cheered as Flintoff entered the ring to Oasis's song Roll With It
Nod to the past: Flintoff pulled on his Lancashire shirt for his walk to the ring
'I don't know – they'll probably say I
kept dropping my hands,' he said when asked how sceptics might have
received his gutsy display.
'That's not the reason I did it. I
appreciate that people are passionate about sport and people want to
protect their sport – I'd be the same with cricket and boxing's no
'There's a few who've tried to steal a
few headlines, granted, but on the whole people are passionate about
sport. This whole process was never about degrading boxing. We wanted to
do it properly, which we've done.
'We wanted to show boxing for what it
is, a fantastic sport, and I wanted to show what boxers go through.
Sometimes I don't thing they get the credit they deserve.
Eagle-eyed: Flintoff picked the American off in one of his flurries
On the ropes: Dawson battled to hold Flintoff off
Go out swinging: Flintoff was the far more active of fighters
'I think boxing should be right up
there. There's some amazing people and I've seen some amazing things
over the past few months.'
And Flintoff was quick to pay high credit to the duo who guided him through those experiences.
He added: 'The McGuigan name within boxing is massive and I was aware that when I walked out I was carrying that as well.
'I'm just glad that I've come out of
there with a win and with that intact because these two guys are the
ones who put themselves out there more than I have and I could not thank
them enough. These are special fellas.'
Flush: Flintoff lands a straight
Embrace: Flintoff leans over to see his wife, Rachael, after the bout
Gracious: Flintoff consoles his defeated opponent
Contrast: The two fighters strike a pose after the bout
Furious Freddie: Flintoff launched a number of wild swings as Rachael Flintoff (right) cheers her husband on
Nervous Rachael Flintoff took her seat before the fight
Celebrity fan: John Bishop was in the Manchester Arena to support his friend Flintoff
And there's more: Bishop's fellow comedian Jack Whitehall turned up
Me too! Former cricketer and radio broadcaster Darren Gough
KO: David Haye leaves the jungle
PS FREDDIE GOT UP BUT THIS BRITISH HEAVYWEIGHT SUFFERED A KNOCKOUT…
On the night that Andrew Flintoff picked himself back up from the canvas to win his first professional fight, former world heavyweight champion David Haye was knocked out of I'm A Celebrity Get Me Out of Here in the semi-final to take third place on the show.
The boxer left actress Charlie Brooks and singer Ashley Roberts to battle if out in the final on Saturday night's show.
Speaking to Ant and Dec after his eviction, the 32-year-old said was 'weird' to be finally out of camp but said he was looking glad he had 'freedom at last'.
When asked if he was disappointed at being kicked out of the show ahead of the final he replied': 'It's the way it was meant to be.'
He added: 'I had a lot of fun'.
But, although Flintoff may have been the winner on the night, don't expect him to be taking on the Hayemaker anytime soon…
VIDEO: It wasn't one for the purists! Flintoff reflects on the fight