It's just not cricket… but Flintoff WINS his first pro boxing bout as former England captain beats heavyweight Dawson on points
10:45 GMT, 1 December 2012
Andrew Flintoff entered the ring a former England cricketer but left a heavyweight boxer after overcoming a second-round knockdown to beat American Richard Dawson on his professional debut.
The 34-year-old, who had previously led England to an Ashes series triumph against Australia with a bat and ball in his hand, won by a single point on the referee's scorecard at the Manchester Arena.
Flintoff took the fight to Dawson from the first bell and recovered well from hitting the canvas for the first time since he started training four-and-half months ago.
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
The former Lancashire all-rounder
walked to the ring wearing his County cricket top to the sound of
Oasis' Roll With It and the crowd of around 6,000 did their best to
recreate the electric atmosphere produced in the same venue last
Saturday for Ricky Hatton's unsuccessful comback.
Flintoff had been training under the
tutelage of Barry McGuigan and his son Shane and had shed over three
stone over four-and-a-half months before weighing in 25lbs lighter than
His decision to take up the sport at a professional level had been widely criticised,
particularly by British and Commonwealth heavyweight champion David
Price who stopped Matt Skelton earlier in the evening in Liverpool.
The British Boxing Board of Control
granted him a licence at the second time of asking and general secretary
Robert Smith was in attendance, all too aware no doubt at the
ramifications if the home favourite was badly beaten up.
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
Flintoff had insisted his venture was
not a stunt, despite the presence of Sky television who chronicled his
progress for a three-part documentary and Dawson, who had
been hand-picked, proved to be a wise match.
He brought over an unbeaten record
after three fights, although his debut bout was not sanctioned but had little over five rounds of experience in the professional
ranks. He knocked out his first opponent inside 19 seconds while the
second retired on his stool with broken ribs after the first session.
Dawson was taken the four-round distance in his latest bout.
The 23-year-old was raised by his
sister and brother-in-law until he was 18 while his mum and dad both
served time in prison. He was also locked up for three months
for assault and was shot four times in the back when working as a driver
in the drugs trade.
He had the added benefit of
experienced trainer Bob Shannon, who prepared Hatton for his bout with
Vyacheslav Senchenko, in his corner after his trainer was unable to
obtain a visa.
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
But when he came out at the first
bell, Dawson looked the less experienced as Flintoff led with his jab
and looked to land with his right hand. He had his man on the ropes in
the early stages but the visiting fighter was quick to hold whenever he
The fight was already scrappy but
Dawson threatened to spoil the party in the second session. Flintoff
landed a right but his opponent responded with a left hook and, to the
shock of the crowd, sent their favourite to the canvas. Flintoff rose
quickly however and beat the count and did enough for the remainder of
the round to lose it 10-9, rather than 10-8 as is standard with a
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
Having survived that setback, Flintoff
resumed normal service in the next session and although Dawson tried to
keep out of range and slip the jab, he was continually caught on the
ropes and forced to hold to avoid taking a right hand.
Flintoff stalked his adversary round
the ring, knowing he had to win the remaining two rounds and did just
enough to send the contest into a winner-takes-all final stanza.
Rising from his stool to a raucous
reception, he continued to hunt Dawson down and although he took several
stiff jabs flush in the face, he was never unduly worried and raised his
own hand in expectation at the final bell before the referee did
likewise after the score was announced.
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