Flintoff backed in debut bout
Andrew Flintoff has received enormous backing from Sky Bet punters ahead of his professional heavyweight boxing debut against Richard Dawson on Friday night.
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The former cricketer takes a step into the unknown at Manchester Arena, with American Dawson, the 5/6 slight favourite , vowing to show the 34-year-old no mercy in knocking the novice out within the four-round bout.
Many Sky Bet users have Flintoff to win by any method within the four rounds at 9/2, while he has received over four times the number of bets on an outright win (6/5) than his counterpart Dawson.
Flintoff's decision to enter the sport has been met with criticism in some quarters, but with four-and-a-half months' intense training under his belt, the former Lancashire all-rounder has shown real desire to make a name for himself in heavyweight boxing.
Coached by former world featherweight champion Barry McGuigan and his son Shane, Flintoff is of the small minority of boxers to jump straight to professional action without an amateur background, but that hasn't stopped punters placing their support.
Flintoff, the slightly taller but lighter of the opponents, to win in the last of the two-minute rounds is a popular choice at 25/1, with few, understandably given the overwhelming home support, backing a draw at 8/1.
A first-round win for the Englishman has received a little bit of interest at 16/1, but Flintoff would be wise not to come all guns blazing, with Dawson good value to take the fight in the third round at 9/1.
Although relatively unknown, 23-year-old Dawson has had three professional bouts and one amateur fight. He remains undefeated and could use his flexible stance to his advantage, being comfortable as an orthodox or southpaw.