Flintoff admits struggling with fear of being punched
Cricketer-turned-heavyweight boxer Andrew Flintoff has admitted to some growing pains as he adapts to life inside the ring.
The former allrounder, preparing for his first professional boxing fight at the age of 34, is due to step into the ring on November 30, against an opponent yet to be named.
Flintoff's journey is currently being filmed for a television documentary, and he revealed that he had found it difficult to go from firing down 90mph balls at intimidated batsmen to preparing to take a full-blooded punch to the jaw.
"All the stuff you do in the gym, all the stuff you do with the pads, it doesn't really get you ready for trying to get out of the way, for trying to punch somebody, for trying to take a punch," Flintoff told Sky Sports. "It is tough, and a far cry from anything I've done before."
Flintoff is slowly getting to grips with everything, however, revealing that an impromptu sparring session where he took his first clean punch served to ease his mind.
"We went to Essex and I faced this guy in sparring, he was 19 stone, 19-and-a-half stone," he said. "He was good. I went in there and I was just waiting for that first punch. You put your hands up and you think, 'Right, when's it coming, when's it coming' and then I got punched.
"And I was like, 'I'm still here'. And then you soak up more and more."
However, not everyone in boxing is supporting Flintoff with his pursuit, with promoter Frank Maloney raging that the whole situation is giving boxing "a bad name" and revealing that he turned down the chance to put Flintoff on a bill with heavyweight prospect David Price.
"Giving Flintoff a professional licence with no experience of boxing is a joke," Maloney told the Lancashire Evening Post. "It gives our sport a bad name.
"They asked if we could be on the same bill [as Price], but I would never be involved in promoting something like this.
"This is nonsense but in our sport it's dangerous nonsense. Olympic rower James Cracknell did something similar, went into a pro heavyweight fight and was knocked out in seconds.
"They haven't named an opponent for Flintoff yet but even if they find some guy who's lost his first four pro fights, he will still be in against someone with amateur experience. It will be a terrible shock when he gets hit on the chin by a heavyweight."