Flintoff wins first boxing bout

Andrew Flintoff, the former England cricketing hero, launched a new career in boxing with a narrow victory in his first bout. Flintoff edged the decision on points ahead of American pro Richard Dawson.

Amidst criticism that this was a "celebrity fight", Flintoff insisted he was deadly serious about his commitment to boxing. Flintoff, understandably, was not a stylish fighter, but Dawson didn’t present any major problems, although one of the few substantial punches that landed, in the second round, caused Flintoff to take a standing eight count.

Flintoff put the fight alongside the highlights of his sporting career. "You mention the Ashes and things at international level which were amazing but as a personal achievement I think this is better," Flintoff said after the victory. "I have had to work so hard. The feeling of being back in there in front of a crowd and winning, I can't describe it."

With coach Barry McGuigan, Flintoff has learned the sport from the basics up, and got himself into shape, something that wasn’t always easy for him in his cricket heyday. "I've learned a lot of things," he said. "I've sprouted a few abs I've never seen. I've lost a load of weight. The physical aspect of boxing is one thing but the mental part is something else. I've never experienced anything like it."

There was a raucous welcome for Flintoff in the Manchester MEN Arena, with the crowd including fellow ex-England cricketers Rob Key, Steve Harmison and Matthew Hoggard. It would have been the most generous of observers who called Flintoff a proper boxer, but his fitness, energy and adrenalin were enough to overcome his chunky and sluggish opponent.

Flintoff becomes British boxing’s latest unbeaten heavyweight, but it seems unlikely that he will be in a position to threaten any serious fighters. Not that it will stop publicity-hungry promoters from making offers.

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