Tag Archives: mcguigan

Andrew Flintoff shows off black eye celebrating winning his boxing match

Bruised Flintoff celebrates winning his boxing debut as McGuigan insists it did not shame the sport

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UPDATED:

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.

Back off, mate: Andrew Flintoff shows off his black eye as a fan gets a little close

Hello, fighter: Flintoff is cornered by another affectionate supporter

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

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

Job done: Andrew Flintoff celebrated after beating Richard Dawson in the four-round bout

Winner: Andrew Flintoff

Winner: Andrew Flintoff

Frenzied: Flintoff sprayed Richard Dawson with shots

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

Whoops: Flintoff was caught flush in the second round

Gotcha: Freddie catches Dawson on the chin

Gotcha: Freddie catches Dawson on the chin

Baying: The crowd cheered as Flintoff entered the ring to Oasis's song Roll With It

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

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
different.

'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

Eagle-eyed: Flintoff picked the American off in one of his flurries

On the ropes: Dawson battled to hold Flintoff off

On the ropes: Dawson battled to hold Flintoff off

Go out swinging: Flintoff was the far more active of fighters

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

Flush: Flintoff lands a straight

Embrace: Flintoff leans over to see his wife, Rachael, after the bout

Embrace: Flintoff leans over to see his wife, Rachael, after the bout

Gracious: Flintoff consoles his defeated opponent

Gracious: Flintoff consoles his defeated opponent

Contrast: The two fighters strike a pose after the bout

Contrast: The two fighters strike a pose after the bout

Furious Freddie: Flintoff launched a number of wild swings

Rachael Flintoff

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

Nervous Rachael Flintoff took her seat before the fight

Nervous Rachael Flintoff took her seat before the fight

Celebrity fan: John Bishop was in the Manchester Arena to support his friend Flintoff

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

And there's more: Bishop's fellow comedian Jack Whitehall turned up

Me too! Former cricketer and radio broadcaster Darren Gough

Me too! Former cricketer and radio broadcaster Darren Gough

KO: David Haye leaves the jungle

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

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Andrew Flintoff showed heart if not technique – Mike Dickson

Mike Dickson: What Flintoff lacked in elegance he made up for with sheer heart

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UPDATED:

01:48 GMT, 1 December 2012

Andrew Flintoff never took a step back on the cricket field and, when it came down to a huge test of nerve and courage last night, he remained resolutely on the front foot to record the first win of his reality boxing career.

We knew he could fearlessly smite short balls from Brett Lee off the tip of his nose, that he could bully the world’s finest batsmen with barrages of short-pitched bowling, and now we know he can hold his own inside the ropes before a baying, breathless crowd.

What he lacked in elegance he made up for with sheer heart to surge forward continually and defeat an opponent two stones heavier, albeit one who lived down to expectations, on a 39-38 points decision to the delirious acclaim of the MEN Arena in Manchester.

Pure heart: Andrew Flintoff was unrefined but brave and persistent

Pure heart: Andrew Flintoff was unrefined but brave and persistent

Caught off balance by the otherwise hapless Richard Dawson in the second round, Flintoff was floored by a clipped left hook in a rare show of aggression from the American, who had all the mobility of a giant water butt.

But recovering from that was a typical show of character from the former England all-rounder, who must now decide if he wants to go through all this again. ‘I don’t know, but the feeling of being back in front of a crowd and winning was incredible,’ he said. ‘It’s been amazing, humbling in fact.

‘It wasn’t one for the purist but it was everything I had hoped for and more. It was like an out-of-body experience. It was similar to how I played cricket: a bit ragged but I wanted to leave everything in the ring.’

His relieved and delighted mentor Barry McGuigan added: ‘He forgot everything I taught him in the excitement of it all but he got the job done.’

A few of the Celebocracy in which Flintoff moves these days were among the 6,000 crowd, including comedians John Bishop and Jack Whitehall and a smattering of former Test colleagues such as Matthew Hoggard and Steve Harmison.

Made it through: Flintoff survived his first foray into the ring to win on points

Made it through: Flintoff survived his first foray into the ring to win on points

When Ricky Hatton had fought a week earlier, the 19,000 tickets had gone within a week, the appetite for an authentic comeback from a credible star of the sport obviously greater than the desire to see a much-loved cricketing hero take this strange and rather brutal voyage of self-discovery.

You could not fault Flintoff’s courage but it was hard for any outcome to glorify the image of the noble art. A quick knockout or stoppage would have been the farce that many in the game had feared and predicted. Lasting the course as he did, even in this bare minimum format of eight minutes, did not suggest that the skill levels required to turn professional are stratospheric.

Something you could not criticise Flintoff for was his dedication to this cause, the loss of more than three stone sculpting his body into a sharper form than the one which, even at the height of his playing days, always had something of a built-for-comfort look about it.

He clearly answered the demands of McGuigan with four months of the kind of discipline that might have elongated the main part of his sporting career had he employed it then.

Get back up: Flintoff stumbled but recovered to emerge victorious

Get back up: Flintoff stumbled but recovered to emerge victorious

The last time he shared a sporting arena with a Richard Dawson it was the spindly Yorkshire off-spinner, not the former gang member from small town Oklahoma who had forged a more traditional, redemptive path into the sport.

Dawson, 23, has the sort of moobs that Simon Cowell might blush at, but unlike the Lancastrian he had the benefit of several amateur fights before two at professional level, albeit against equally unknown opponents.

Flintoff entered the ring wearing a Lancashire Twenty20 shirt, but he will never have heard a cacophony like this.

Compared to the earlier fighters on the bill Dawson was less nimble than a mobile home and after a cagey beginning Flintoff had him rocking back on the ropes.

Crowd favourite: 'Freddie' connects with Dawson's head

Crowd favourite: 'Freddie' connects with Dawson's head

That was until the left hook that had the home favourite sprawling across the canvas, forced to take a count of eight. Our hero survived through to the end of it and into a third round which saw much grappling, pushing and shoving, and the odd jab from both men.

With chants of ‘Freddie! Freddie!’ ringing around the arena and Dawson being reminded about his copious flab, Flintoff surged forward in the fourth round and landed his best combinations of the bout.

The late flurries, while somewhat ungainly, were enough to guarantee him the points decision after eight minutes of a different sort of fame.

Andrew Flintoff weighs in for heavyweight boxing debut with Richard Dawson

EXCLUSIVE: Hatton's trainer to be in opposite corner as Flintoff weighs in for heavyweight boxing debut against Dawson

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UPDATED:

17:00 GMT, 29 November 2012

Richard Dawson will have Ricky Hatton's trainer in his corner tomorrow night when he fights former England cricket captain Andrew Flintoff.

Bob Shannon stepped in at the last minute after the American's trainer was unable to obtain a visa to travel from Oklahoma for the bout at the Manchester Arena.

Flintoff, who has lost three-and-a-half stone for the bout, weighed in today at 216lb, considerably lighter than the slightly shorter Dawson who tipped the scales at 241lb.

Squaring up: Andrew Flintoff weighs in at the Hilton Hotel in Manchester ahead of his heavyweight debut against Richard Dawson

Squaring up: Andrew Flintoff weighs in at the Hilton Hotel in Manchester ahead of his heavyweight debut against Richard Dawson

Patriotic: Flintoff sported a pair of Union Jack boxer shorts as he stripped off and jumped on the scales

Patriotic: Flintoff sported a pair of Union Jack boxer shorts as he stripped off and jumped on the scales

Relaxed: Flintoff looked assured as he prepares to step into the ring for the first time at the MEN Arena on Friday night

Relaxed: Flintoff looked assured as he prepares to step into the ring for the first time at the MEN Arena on Friday night

Passing on a few tips: Still sporting a black eye from his defeat to Vyacheslav Senchencko last weekend, Ricky Hatton shows Flintoff some techniques at the weigh-in

Passing on a few tips: Still sporting a black eye from his defeat to Vyacheslav Senchencko last weekend, Ricky Hatton shows Flintoff some techniques at the weigh-in

Ricky Hatton passes on some advice to Andrew Flintoff

The 23-year-old American was
hand-picked by Flintoff's mentor Barry McGuigan and brings with him an
unbeaten record after three professional fights.

But Flintoff, 34, believes his gruelling training regime will give him the advantage in front of an expected crowd of 5,000.

'I've been working with Shane and
Barry and they've got me in unbelievable shape,' he said. 'It's a
different type of training to when I was playing cricket. I've done the
rounds in sparring and I'm looking forward to tomorrow night.

Andrew Flintoff during the weigh in for his Heavyweight bout with Richard Dawson

Richard Dawson during the weigh in at The Hilton Hotel, Manchester

Size difference: Flintoff tipped the scales at 216lbs, considerably lighter than Dawson at 241lbs

Mutual respect: An embrace and a handshake between the two antagonists after the weigh-in

Mutual respect: An embrace and a handshake between the two antagonists after the weigh-in

'The last four-and-a-half-months have been the hard work and I want to go out and enjoy it.

'It was an opportunity that I couldn't pass up. I played cricket until I was 31 and wasn't ready to sit back and do nothing.

'It's had its moments, especially in
some of the training and sparring sessions, but I've never thought about
packing it in. I've asked myself why I'm doing it but the hardest
things you do are the most rewarding.'

Uncompromising: Dawson has pledged to turn the former England cricket captain's debut into a nightmare

Uncompromising: Dawson has pledged to turn the former England cricket captain's debut into a nightmare

Flintoff, who was not dropped during
his 300 rounds of sparring, insists he has not thought about whether his
new career will extend beyond his maiden bout.

'First and foremost my focus is on
tomorrow night and after that we'll decide where it's going. It would be
dangerous to look past tomorrow night.

'Richard has come over and my
attention is on that. It was the same with cricket in the last part of
my career, I didn't look too far ahead.'

Dawson, meanwhile, has promised to knock Flintoff out and enjoy an early night on first visit to these shores.

'I'm here to win and and Mr Freddie is here to win,' he said. 'I respect Freddie but I'm going to attack him.

'I put pressure on; pressure wins fights and I'm here to win and get it over with.'

Andrew Flintoff will be knocked out – Richard Dawson

EXCLUSIVE: I'm not here to play, I'm going to knock Flintoff out, vows Dawson

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UPDATED:

00:49 GMT, 29 November 2012

Richard Dawson has promised that Andrew Flintoff’s venture into professional boxing will be nasty, brutal and short.

The 23-year-old undefeated American has been hand-picked to take on the former England cricket captain at the Manchester Arena on Friday night.

But Dawson believes the fight could be won as early as Thursday’s weigh-in.

No messing around: Richard Dawson plans to ensure Andrew Flintoff's boxing career is short-lived

No messing around: Richard Dawson plans to ensure Andrew Flintoff's boxing career is short-lived

‘I definitely want to knock him out,’ he told Sportsmail in his first interview since the fight was announced.

‘I’m not going to play with him, I want to get in and get out. I don’t have time to put on a show because we’re in his town and I don’t trust the judges.’

Dawson, from Oklahoma, only took up the sport two years ago but has been fighting for a brighter future for significantly longer.

‘I had a pretty rough life,’ he admits. ‘My mum and dad did jail time and my sister and brother-in-law raised me until I was 18.

‘A lot of my friends are either dead or in jail and my brother is crippled after being shot in front of our house.’

Dawson, who has three other sisters and a nine-month-old son of his own, spent almost three months in prison for assault.

‘I was breaking up a fight,’ he explains. ‘The guy was on pills, he pushed me and something just clicked in my head. I had never been in trouble before.

‘That convinced me I never want to go back, I didn’t want to follow the family pattern and I feel like I’ve learned from the mistakes my parents made.’

Hitting hard: Andrew Flintoff (left) has been training with Barry McGuigan and his son Shane (right)

Hitting hard: Andrew Flintoff (left) has been training with Barry McGuigan and his son Shane (right)

Speaking at his Manchester hotel, Dawson claims boxing has ensured he now sticks to the straight and narrow.

‘At first I had a real bad attitude but boxing slowed it down a lot. It helps me keep my composure, keeps me humble and keeps my confidence up.

‘My role models sold dope but now kids come up to me and talk about boxing and I feel like a role model to them.

‘But my upbringing gives me a big advantage. When I step in the ring, I know I’ve got a son who needs to be fed, I need to pay the bills and I want to take a lot of anger out after what I’ve been through and I do it in the ring.’

Dawson has had three professional fights following a one-bout amateur career although his first contest, in December last year, was not sanctioned.

It went ahead on a professional bill and MMA fighter Ryan Lopez was knocked out cold in 19 seconds. Subsequently, Jimmy Lane retired on his stool with multiple broken ribs before he was taken the four-round distance by Jamell Williams in August.

Big stage: Flintoff and Dawson will fight at the Manchester Arena which also hosted Ricky Hatton's comeback

Big stage: Flintoff and Dawson will fight at the Manchester Arena which also hosted Ricky Hatton's comeback

A clash with street fighter-turned-boxer Kimbo Slice meanwhile was called off at the last minute in May.

Turning his attention to Flintoff, Dawson is confident he can extend his winning record.

‘I don’t really know why they chose me,’ he said. ‘I guess they wanted a heavyweight who’s had three or four fights and I was the person they called.

‘I think he’s going off my amateur fight as that’s the only one I’ve got on video but I’m a totally different fighter now.

‘Flintoff is a brave guy; it takes a brave man to get in the ring and I respect him for that but once that bell rings, it’s totally different; it’s just him and me.

‘I’ve seen a clip of him sparring and he’s come a long way in five months but anyone can look good on the pads.’

Dawson believes he can exploit Flintoff’s ‘chicken wings’, where he keeps his arms and elbows out out rather than tucked in.

Trim: A slimline Andrew Flintoff

Trim: A slimline Andrew Flintoff

Modelling himself on Floyd Mayweather and Roy Jones Jnr, Dawson is comfortable fighting in either orthodox or southpaw stance.

The bout in Manchester will be over the minimum professional distance of four two-minute rounds.

‘It’s as if Flintoff has told his trainers he can’t last three minutes for four rounds,’ Dawson adds. ‘He should be in the best shape in his life. If you become a pro boxer, you should be able to pick your rounds, whether it’s four or eight or 12.

‘I’m not going to say I could do 12 three-minute rounds but I’ve got the heart to do it. I’d keep banging because eventually I’ll get my rest.

‘I fight from my heart because that’s what I did growing up. If he’s never been in a fight in his life, it’s going to be hard for him to deal with someone experienced.’

Dawson admits he had never heard of cricket before he was offered the fight.

‘When I Googled it, I thought it was baseball but I’ve read about Flintoff and his cricket stuff. He’s going to have a lot of fans behind him.’

Dawson expects to weigh in at 235lbs, considerably heavier than his slightly taller opponent.

‘My dad taught me to win the fight at the weigh in and that’s what I’ll do,’ he concludes. ‘If he turns away when I look into his eyes, that’s it, it’s over.’

Andrew Flintoff says he feels like a boxer

EXCLUSIVE: Flintoff: When I fill in those forms that ask for your occupation, I now say 'boxer'

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UPDATED:

22:46 GMT, 27 November 2012

Andrew Flintoff owns a motorbike and has tattoos, so difficult conversations with his mother are nothing new.

But discussing his latest career move was a little more awkward. 'It was a few months ago and we were watching television when some boxing came on,' he says.

'I was thinking, “How am I going to tell her that I'm going to start fighting” Then she starts saying, “I'm glad you played cricket and didn't go for boxing”'. Oh god.

Hitting hard: Andrew Flintoff will fight Richard Dawson on Friday evening

Hitting hard: Andrew Flintoff will fight Richard Dawson on Friday evening

'I just went for it: “Mum, I have something to tell you”. I'm not sure she was too pleased – or is too pleased. I guess it's one thing watching your son go out to play cricket at Lord's in his whites, and another to watch him have a fight.'

Mrs Flintoff is fast running out of time to get used to the idea.

On Friday, at Manchester Arena, her son will step into a ring with Richard Dawson, once a street-fighting gang member from Oklahoma and now a professional heavyweight with two wins in his first two fights.

Trim: A slimline Andrew Flintoff is ready for his first professional boxing fight

Trim: A slimline Andrew Flintoff is ready for his first professional boxing fight

'It's bizarre where life takes you,' says Flintoff, sipping black coffee in a London bar.

The former England cricket captain hasn't had a drop of alcohol for four months.

His upper lip, as it often has been since he started mixing with Barry McGuigan and his son Shane, is looking a little fleshy. His 34-year-old body isn't.

Flintoff weighs roughly 15-and-a-half stone, about four less than when he started making himself sick after meals at cricket grounds around the world.

That was one of the revelations from the first part of his most recent, most compelling documentary, Flintoff: From Lord's to The Ring.

Another was that occasionally he was bullied at school and this venture is, in part, an attempt to gain closure.

There was also talk about finding it difficult to fill the void that appears when the structure and purpose of professional sport goes.

Flintoff says: 'I'm happy with the documentary. I had an idea of what I wanted it to do and I think it has done.

'But people should know, I decided first that I wanted to do the boxing, to get back into professional sport, and then we decided to make a documentary.'

The sentence has almost become a reflex against the critics.

Frank Maloney, a promoter, says Flintoff is making boxing a 'laughing stock' and called the fight a 'publicity stunt'.

He cited James Cracknell's charity fight in 2007 that left the two-time Olympic gold medal-winning rower unconscious.

'I just went for it: “Mum, I have
something to tell you”. I'm not sure she was too pleased. It's one thing watching your son go out to play cricket and another to watch him have a fight.'

– Andrew Flintoff

Heavyweight David Price called the whole thing 'a joke'.

'It hasn't felt like a joke,' Flintoff says. 'It's not a stunt. If you don't take this sport seriously you get hurt. Believe me, I'm serious about this. I've put a lot into this.'

He looks tired from the day's training. Each week he has been doing 12 sessions, most lasting two hours, with Shane McGuigan.

What started last year with an impromptu pad session with Barry during filming for another programme progressed recently to hard, full-contact sparring with no headguards.

'That was a big step,' he says. 'You feel sharper but also more vulnerable. You obviously feel the punches more. But it was the next step. It's all a process.

'It has been a very long, hard road to here – I was starting right from scratch. It has been my life for four months. The months of diet, eating steak at 6am, training, sparring, bleeding noses, thick lips – it's all been for this fight. I have done this properly.

Real deal: Flintoff (right) says he is serious about professional boxing, despite David Price (left) describing his fight as a 'joke'

Real deal: Flintoff (right) says he is serious about professional boxing, despite David Price (left) describing his fight as a 'joke'

'I understand people having opinions about this, that is fine – people are protective of their sport, as I'd be of cricket. People had opinions of me when I played cricket. But we are not trying to disrespect the sport. I would never do that – I genuinely love boxing.'

He talks of staying up late as a child to watch big fights broadcast from America, especially if they involved Mike Tyson.

'I used to love watching Tyson,' he says. 'I remember staying up until the middle of the night for the first Frank Bruno-Tyson fight and, oh my god! Frank had rocked him, the commentator's telling him to get stuck in.

'He came so close. He almost took him and then Tyson did what he does.' Tyson dropped into Flintoff's gym during a recent visit to the UK.

So did Sugar Ray Leonard. 'I couldn't believe it,' Flintoff says. 'I had Sugar Ray talking about my footwork and Tyson saying stuff about the mental side.

'He used to be so nervous before a fight and had to control that. I was as nervous meeting Tyson as I was meeting Ian Botham for the first time.

Lord of the ring: Flintoff (centre) with his father and son training team Barry (left) and Shane (right) McGuigan

Lord of the ring: Flintoff (centre) with his father and son training team Barry (left) and Shane (right) McGuigan

'I used to love British fighters like Chris Eubank, Nigel Benn, Steve Collins, Ricky Hatton. I spent time with Collins in Vegas a few years ago.

'He spoke about his battles with Eubank. I was sitting listening to him about how Eubank was such a strong puncher, and about the time he got hypnotised before fighting him.

'It was fascinating – I love those stories.'

Quite how this chapter in Flintoff 's career will end is anyone's guess.

He won't talk about his strengths or weaknesses but Barry McGuigan thinks he 'could floor a mule' with his right hand.

The rumour is that Flintoff hasn't even been put down in sparring, though he has flattened a few himself.

'It's not a stunt. If you don't take
this sport seriously you get hurt. Believe me, I'm serious about this.
I've put a lot into this.'

– Andrew Flintoff

'It has been getting harder,' he says. 'It's tough, but I love the feeling that I'm improving.'

He laughs about the scene in the first part of the documentary when he stops to see if an early sparring partner is OK after a big head shot.

'This is the hurt business,' a less-than-impressed Barry McGuigan says to camera.

'I've developed a bit more spite since then,' Flintoff says. 'You'll see. It's feeling a bit more natural. I feel like a boxer.

'It's funny, when you go on planes and you fill in those forms that ask for your occupation – I put that I'm a boxer now.'

His mother might have to get used to it.

Flintoff: From Lord's To The Ring continues on Thursday at 9pm on Sky 1. The fight will be shown live on Boxnation (SkyCh 437, Virgin Ch 546) on Friday night.

Andrew Flintoff to fight Richard Dawson

EXCLUSIVE: Flintoff opponent 'signs deal' with unbeaten American Dawson

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UPDATED:

01:36 GMT, 13 November 2012

Unbeaten American boxer Richard Dawson has signed a contract to fight Andrew Flintoff in Manchester on November 30.

Sportsmail revealed last week that the 23-year-old from Oklahoma had been approached to be Flintoff's first opponent and he will now undergo a stringent medical in the next few days.

His team are confident that those tests will prove a formality and Dawson will take on the former England cricket captain over four two-minute rounds at the Manchester Arena, as stipulated by Flintoff's camp.

Debut bout: Flintoff will face Richard Dawson

Debut bout: Flintoff will face Richard Dawson

The 34-year-old has been training with former world champion Barry McGuigan and his son Shane and has lost over three stone during a gruelling regime.

He was granted a licence by the British Boxing Board of Control despite protestations from several leading figures in the sport, including promoter Frank Maloney.

Heavyweight Dawson is a two-fight novice and his professional record consists of just five rounds of action following a limited amateur career. His first bout lasted just three minutes when Jimmy Lane retired on his stool before Jamell Williams was outpointed over four.

An agreement was finally reached with Flintoff last week but Dawson has been in training awaiting his next bout after a fight with Kevin 'Kimbo Slice' Ferguson fell through.

Career change: Flintoff is a former England cricket captain

Career change: Flintoff is a former England cricket captain

'It will be a wonderful experience,' a spokesperson for Dawson told Sportsmail. 'We respect Mr Flintoff as an athlete and from everything we've read he appears to be a well-conditioned athlete.

'However, he does not appear to have any fight experience and even though we know he has been training with some of the best in the business, that is not the same as being in a prize fight taking punches.

'We think this is a good opportunity to give Richard some experience and exposure.

'Richard has been in training, we just didn't have his next fight lined up. This fits in well with what we want to do.

'We respect him [Flintoff]. We don't fear him but we do respect him.'

Freddie Flintoff to fight Richard Dawson in Manchester Arena boxing debut

REVEALED: Flintoff set to fight American novice Dawson in debut boxing bout

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UPDATED:

16:00 GMT, 9 November 2012

Andrew Flintoff is expected to make his professional boxing debut against two-fight novice Richard Dawson, Sportsmail can exclusively reveal.

The 23-year-old heavyweight from Oklahoma remains undefeated but has fought just five rounds in total since his first bout in February.

The American’s promoters expect to receive the contract later on Friday ahead of the fight on November 30 at the Manchester Arena.

One on one: Mike Tyson offers advice to Andrew Flintoff as he prepares for his boxing debut

One on one: Mike Tyson offers advice to Andrew Flintoff as he prepares for his boxing debut

Dawson’s first opponent Jimmy Lane
retired on his stool after the first of four scheduled rounds before he
was declared the unanimous winner against Jamell Williams in August.
Both boxers were deducted points for holding in what was a dull contest
which should give Flintoff hope.

The former England cricket captain
announced in September that he would be trained by Irish boxing legend
Barry McGuigan and his son Shane and his since lost over three stone in
weight during a gruelling regime.

The 34-year-old was granted a licence
by the British Boxing Board of Control but has come in for some fierce
criticism, particularly from promoter Frank Maloney who claimed Flintoff
will ‘shame the fight game’.

Flintoff, meanwhile, had a pep talk from former heavyweight champion Mike Tyson, who paid a visit to his gym.

Watching brief: Tyson with Flintoff's trainer Barry McGuigan

Watching brief: Tyson with Flintoff's trainer Barry McGuigan

‘It was amazing to meet Tyson because
as a kid he was one of my heroes,’ Flintoff said. ‘So to have him come
down to the gym – not only that, but to talk to me about it all was
amazing.

‘He spoke a lot about the emotion of
boxing and it was all relevant to how I was feeling. So to hear it from
Mike Tyson made me realise it was okay for me to feel like that too.

‘He
talked a lot about what he went through pre-fight and in the run up to a
fight; the emotional states he was in and the nerves he experienced
before he fought.

‘He
is obviously one of the best boxers ever, so hearing what he had to say
gave me a lot of inspiration. I went on the pads in the front of him
which was a pretty surreal experience.

Dream team: Tyson and Flintoff pose after the former world champion paid a visit

Dream team: Tyson and Flintoff pose after the former world champion paid a visit

‘I have really taken his comments on
board and I’ve just got my head down and am working hard to make small
improvements each and every day.’

Meanwhile, Denton Vassell will make
the third defence of his Commonwealth welterweight title against Ronnie
Heffron on the undercard in Manchester.

Bradley Saunders will face Peter McDonagh while Matthew Hall, Liam Williams and Lewis Rees will also be in action.

Freddie Flintoff boxing debut is TV stunt, blasts Frank Maloney

Maloney accuses Flintoff of TV stunt saying bout will 'shame fight game'

|

UPDATED:

10:27 GMT, 6 November 2012

Andrew Flintoff posed for photos with a real heavyweight on Monday but then left the media conference when he learned that his attempt to become a boxer was about to be ridiculed.

The former England cricket captain was pictured with David Price, the British champion and world-title contender, as part of his build-up for a professional debut in the ring.

But Price’s promoter, Frank Maloney, poured scorn on what he described as a ‘stunt which should never be allowed to happen’.

Not boxing clever: Flintoff will just be a punch bag, says Frank Maloney

Not boxing clever: Flintoff will just be a punch bag, says Frank Maloney

Maloney went on: ‘Giving Flintoff a professional licence with no experience of boxing is a joke. It gives our sport a bad name.’

Price and Flintoff appear on separate bills in the north of England on the same night, November 30. Price defends his British and Commonwealth titles against Matt Skelton at Aintree. Flintoff makes his bow in Manchester as the climax of a TV reality show.

Flintoff is being trained by Irish legend Barry McGuigan, who insists it is a serious exercise but Maloney says: ‘They asked if we could be on the same bill but I would never be involved in promoting something like this. This is nonsense but in our sport it’s dangerous nonsense.

Behind the ropes: Flintoff has been training to be a professional boxer

Behind the ropes: Flintoff has been training to be a professional boxer

‘Olympic rower James Cracknell did something similar, went into a pro heavyweight fight and was knocked out in seconds. They haven’t named an opponent for Flintoff yet but even if they find some guy who’s lost his first four pro fights, he will still be in against someone with amateur experience. It will be a terrible shock when he gets hit on the chin by a heavyweight.’

Both the November 30 bouts are to be screened live on BoxNation but Maloney is insisting that Price goes on air first, saying: ‘If the evening starts with Flintoff’s fiasco the viewers would be switching off.’

The real deal: Frank Maloney (centre) promotes the David Price and Matt Skelton fight which is on the same night as Flintoff's debut

The real deal: Frank Maloney (centre) promotes the David Price and Matt Skelton fight which is on the same night as Flintoff's debut

Flintoff was due to share the media podium with Price and Maloney but left quickly with McGuigan when he sensed the mood.

Maloney was also deeply critical of the British Boxing Board of Control, saying: ‘It is a disgrace they have given Flintoff a licence. I told the chairman, Charles Giles, that he should be sacked for approving this scandal.’

Price expects to come through a tough physical test against the aging fitness-fanatic Skelton and move closer to a world heavyweight title shot against one of the Klitschko brothers in autumn next year.

Frank Maloney dismisses Andrew Flintoff"s boxing debut as a "stunt"

Maloney accuses Flintoff of TV stunt saying bout will 'shame fight game'

|

UPDATED:

23:21 GMT, 5 November 2012

Andrew Flintoff posed for photos with a real heavyweight on Monday but then left the media conference when he learned that his attempt to become a boxer was about to be ridiculed.

The former England cricket captain was pictured with David Price, the British champion and world-title contender, as part of his build-up for a professional debut in the ring.

But Price’s promoter, Frank Maloney, poured scorn on what he described as a ‘stunt which should never be allowed to happen’.

Not boxing clever: Flintoff will just be a punch bag, says Frank Maloney

Not boxing clever: Flintoff will just be a punch bag, says Frank Maloney

Maloney went on: ‘Giving Flintoff a professional licence with no experience of boxing is a joke. It gives our sport a bad name.’

Price and Flintoff appear on separate bills in the north of England on the same night, November 30. Price defends his British and Commonwealth titles against Matt Skelton at Aintree. Flintoff makes his bow in Manchester as the climax of a TV reality show.

Flintoff is being trained by Irish legend Barry McGuigan, who insists it is a serious exercise but Maloney says: ‘They asked if we could be on the same bill but I would never be involved in promoting something like this. This is nonsense but in our sport it’s dangerous nonsense.

Behind the ropes: Flintoff has been training to be a professional boxer

Behind the ropes: Flintoff has been training to be a professional boxer

‘Olympic rower James Cracknell did something similar, went into a pro heavyweight fight and was knocked out in seconds. They haven’t named an opponent for Flintoff yet but even if they find some guy who’s lost his first four pro fights, he will still be in against someone with amateur experience. It will be a terrible shock when he gets hit on the chin by a heavyweight.’

Both the November 30 bouts are to be screened live on BoxNation but Maloney is insisting that Price goes on air first, saying: ‘If the evening starts with Flintoff’s fiasco the viewers would be switching off.’

The real deal: Frank Maloney (centre) promotes the David Price and Matt Skelton fight which is on the same night as Flintoff's debut

The real deal: Frank Maloney (centre) promotes the David Price and Matt Skelton fight which is on the same night as Flintoff's debut

Flintoff was due to share the media podium with Price and Maloney but left quickly with McGuigan when he sensed the mood.

Maloney was also deeply critical of the British Boxing Board of Control, saying: ‘It is a disgrace they have given Flintoff a licence. I told the chairman, Charles Giles, that he should be sacked for approving this scandal.’

Price expects to come through a tough physical test against the aging fitness-fanatic Skelton and move closer to a world heavyweight title shot against one of the Klitschko brothers in autumn next year.

Andrew Flintoff shows off his new slimline physique ahead of boxing bow

Suits you! Flintoff shows off his new slimline physique ahead boxing bow

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UPDATED:

15:10 GMT, 30 October 2012

Former England cricket captain Andrew Flintoff showed off his new slimline physique at the Pride of Britain awards on Monday night ahead of his expected boxing debut next month.

The 34-year-old, who had not fought at any level before an impromptu sparring session with Barry McGuigan last year, has given up alcohol and lost more than two stones in weight after 10 weeks of full-time training under McGuigan and his son Shane.

Suits you! Freddie Flintoff showed off a slimline new physique at the Pride Of Britain awards, after shedding 30lbs in the past seven weeks

Suits you! Flintoff showed off a slimline new physique at the Pride Of Britain awards, after shedding 30lbs

Red carpet pros: Freddie posed up at the awards with his stunning wife Rachael, who wore a strapless blue gown

A November 30 date at Manchester Arena has been mooted, although an opponent has not yet been decided.

The man affectionately known as 'Freddie' has been sticking to the
Caveman diet – based on lean meat, raw vegetables, berries and nuts,
while avoiding foods such as sugar and refined carbohydrates – in a bid
to lose weight.

The results of the new regime are clear to see, with Flintoff displaying his new look as he posed with stunning wife Rachael.

Speaking recently about his weight loss, Flintoff told Britain's Glamour
magazine: 'I've lost about 30lbs in the last seven weeks and I'm trying
to lose another 15. I'm on the Caveman Diet.'

Pre-Caveman diet: Flintoff in his larger days

Pre-Caveman diet: Flintoff in his larger days

Pre-Caveman diet: Flintoff in his larger days as a cricketer

Asked what he can eat, Flintoff replied: 'I have steak or two buffalo
burgers for breakfast. It sounds good, but when you're up at half five
in the morning cooking up a steak, it's dreadful.

'Then I have 12 almonds mid-morning, two chicken dinners a day with
green vegetables, two boiled eggs or some berries mid afternoon and then
fish and green vegetables for dinner.'

The new-look Flintoff is far cry from the lager-swilling,
pedalo-crashing Freddie that the British public came to know throughout
an international career that spanned from 1998 to 2009.