Published on November 26, 2012 | by Brian McCrann0
Flintoff’s greatest challange
Friday November 30th will see former England cricket star Andrew Flintoff make his debut as a professional boxer. His decision to cross the fields of sport came as a massive surprise to almost everybody in the sporting world
With just over a week until his fight – the question is whether Flintoff can come out successful and more importantly, unscaved.
There is no doubt that Flintoff has been putting in the hard yards over the past six weeks. You only have to look at the change in his physical condition to realise that. Under the tutelage of former world featherweight champion Barry McGuigan and his son Shane, Flintoff’s preparation is sure to be that of a top, experienced boxer. He has lost 40 pounds in his weeks of training and sticks to a strict diet of mainly chicken and fish.
His physical condition was my first concern when I heard the announcment of his new career. Having been forced into retirement from cricket due to various injuries, mainly to do with his knee, it made me wonder how his body would cope with the far more intense training of a boxer. Add to this the lifestyle he has led over his career, not exactly taking care of his body’s intake. His waistline was something that was regularly criticised during his time as a cricketer.
You have to give credit where credit is due and Flintoff, along with his team, seem to have tackled and conquered this problem. But this is where the real work begins. My second, and most important concern for Flintoff, is the technical side of the sport.
Boxing is a sport that takes an outstanding amount of dedication and desire. You have to be dedicated to your training, making sure you are in best physical condition to withstand 12 rounds of hell. The desire comes when you get hit for the first time; have you the mental toughness to push yourself through the pain barrier, without losing sight of what you have to do?
I don’t believe anybody (unless you are unbelievably talented) can pick up the technical skills and movements of boxing in a matter of weeks. I know Flintoff had being doing boxing training to keep fit while he was still playing cricket, but it would have been nothing like what he is doing now.
It is vital that he learns how to protect himself properly. It is the defensive aspect of this sport that is the most important and also the most difficult to learn. The art of ducking and slipping punches is best displayed by Floyd Mayweather Jnr.
This will be the biggest challenge for Flintoff and if he can get a good grasp of it, he could be dangerous. His natural size and power, along with the training he has been doing, would lead you to believe he has sufficient punch power to construct a reasonable offense.
He isn’t the only sports star to cross over sports. Arguably the greatest athlete ever, Michael Jordan, made the switch from basketball to baseball when he joined the Birmingham Barons. That ultimately did not work out as Jordan didn’t have the specific skills needed that would have been learned over years of training. It just shows, no matter how good you are at a certain sport, without sufficient training and preparation, there will always be people better than you.
What is keeping this fight as a contest, is the fact that Flintoff’s opponent, Richard Dawson, has only had two fights of his own. A defeat for the 23-year-old in this three round bout would all but end his short career. This could work to Flintoff’s advantage as all the pressure will be on Dawson.
Flintoff on the other hand, doesn’t seem to be planning anymore fights, which would be wise for his general livelihood. But, depending on the result in Manchester next week, who knows what will happen. We’ve seen funnier things in sport.