Flintoff's ring debut just a circus to boxing elite
Published 02/12/2012 | 05:00
Andrew Flintoff's boxing debut received a withering rebuke from many quarters of the professional boxing world, with promoter Frank Maloney labelling it as a "circus" and calling on the Boxing Board of Control to take a look at its decision to grant the former cricketer a licence to enter a ring.
Jane Couch, the first British female boxer to be granted a professional licence, labelled the four-round bout in Manchester a "laughing stock".
Couch, who took on the Boxing Board to obtain her licence to box, said yesterday: "The board stop David Haye and Dereck Chisora from fighting but allow that to happen. The Flintoff fight belonged on a white-collar amateur boxing show.
"It's a disgrace that professional boxers are being put in the same bracket as what we saw last night. I'm not knocking Freddie himself – fair play – but it really should have been on a white collar show not a professional show.
"David Price was defending the British and Commonwealth heavyweight titles 50 miles away and he should have had the publicity."
Maloney, Price's promoter, said: "Last night was a joke. Once the American had knocked Flintoff down he backed off.
"All this does is deflect the attention from real boxers who have spent years in the gym and in the amateur ranks before developing careers in professional boxing. In all honesty, I've seen more skills watching two women in a bar room brawl. It was like watching two powderpuff punchers, and clearly Flintoff has no chin. If the Boxing Board allows Flintoff to continue boxing, they should be questioned over it. It was a novelty, and just a circus."
Promoter Frank Warren, however, who has a share in BoxNation, the dedicated boxing channel which aired Flintoff's professional debut in the ring, believes that the former England cricket all-rounder had clearly taken it seriously.
"What Freddie Flintoff did was commendable," said Warren. "He took it seriously. He's an absolutely raw novice, as was his opponent Richard Dawson, and that's what it was – a novice heavyweight fight.
"He's never going to be at the level of a David Price, but it's up to him if he wants to carry on and have more fights. It will all depend on what level he is matched at. If he is hit on the chin, he will go.
"The Boxing Board did not just give him a licence, they took a careful look at him, and he fulfilled all of the board's criteria to be able to box.
"It is what it is with Flintoff. He's a very, very raw novice, and he, more than anyone else, understands that. He's been a professional sportsman, and he knows what it takes to get to the highest level in any sport."
Flintoff faced derision from other professional fighters. Paul Smith, the former British super-middleweight champion from Liverpool, responded to Flintoff fans on Twitter who were suggesting he should face Audley Harrison.
"For the jokers, Audley Harrison would be arrested for manslaughter if he fought Flintoff," he wrote.
Former Olympic boxer Khalid Yafai commented on his Twitter account: "Fair play to Flintoff but he should see my nan's right hand!! Embarrassing for boxing though!"
However, Barry McGuigan, the former world champion who had trained Flintoff with his son Shane for the past five months, branded those criticising Flintoff as "idiots".
Sunday Indo Sport