Andrew Flintoff coy on future
Andrew Flintoff was non-committal over his boxing future after climbing from the canvas to score a debut points win over American heavyweight Richard Dawson at the Manchester Arena.
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The former Lancashire and England cricket star was sent to the canvas by a counter left from the 23-year-old Dawson, also a relative novice having won his only two previous professional contests against lightly-regarded opposition.
Befitting the lack of both experience and pedigree on display, the subsequent action was, as Flintoff himself stated afterwards, not the sort to please the purist.
Such an accusation could not be levelled at Flintoff following a intensive and lengthy fitness regime overseen by former WBA featherweight champion Barry McGuigan and his son, trainer Shane.
Flintoff claims the experience has given him a profound admiration for the sacrifices made by boxers at the top level, but whether he is prepared to put a body that shed around three stone during preparation through such rigours again remains to be seen.
"I'm going to have such a good Christmas," he said when asked about his future plans.
"I've really enjoyed it. I knew I was starting at a novice level. We've seen that tonight - I'm under no illusions.
"I just want some time off, having a nice Christmas and not having to get up every day and going through what I've been through for the past four-and-a-half months.
"Then, after Christmas, I'll decide what I'm going to do next but I'm not going to come out with anything at this moment in time.
"It's still quite fresh and still quite raw what's happened."
Criticism of a largely unsightly spectacle continued afterwards, particularly on social media sites, while experienced referee Phil Edwards also came under scrutiny for only awarding Dawson a 10-9 round in the second despite the scored knockdown meriting a 10-8.
It seems unlikely the predictably divisive reaction to an event rapturously received by the 6,000 in attendance will unduly trouble Flintoff, who ranks his boxing journey as a proud personal achievement.
"On a global scale, it's obviously nowhere near (cricket)," he said. "I've had a novice heavyweight fight and it was brilliant.
"When you've had the opportunity to represent what I think is the best county in the world, had the chance to play for England in Ashes series and be successful - I think that is massive.
"But this is a personal achievement and a personal battle with something that doesn't come that naturally to me.
"The fact that I've mentally broken down barriers every day and tried to improve at something that I don't do has, on a personal level, been as good as anything.
"I won. I don't want that adulation that we got with open-top buses and things like that but I can go to bed tonight and close my eyes safe in the knowledge that I've overcome a few things in this process.
"I gave it everything that I've got and I'm glad that it's worked out well for me, because it might not have done."