Sport

Why latest convert Freddie must show he's the real deal

WHEN former England cricketer Freddie Flintoff is finally left alone on Friday night at the MEN Arena, hopefully he will not look down at the wet imprint left by his pal Ricky Hatton's stricken body on the same canvas.

Flintoff's decision to fight as a professional boxer has never been a hoax and his slow and painful and bloody progress to novice heavyweight has been commendable.

Flintoff is not a natural boxer and was denied a licence the first time he applied, but he has doggedly pursued the craft in the gym, even if it mostly remains out of his grasp.

Nobody is certain where Flintoff's adventure will take him and there is wild speculation that a distant showdown with All Black Sonny Bill Williams is a possibility.

Well, it is not, trust me.

Williams, like Flintoff, is a fighter rather than a boxer, but he has in five pro fights just about managed to keep the cynics on their back foot; next year Williams meets former leading contender Frans Botha in potentially a bad, bad move.

I can't see how Botha loses, but stranger things have happened.

Anthony Mundine gives Sonny Bill Williams some words of advice as they walk back to their corner during Williams' fight at the Gold Coast Convention Centre last year.
Anthony Mundine gives Sonny Bill Williams some words of advice as they walk back to their corner during Williams' fight at the Gold Coast Convention Centre last year. Clive Franklin / Finish Line Images

On the same night in Brisbane, when Williams fights next February, his friend and on-field enemy Quade Cooper will, having gained an Australian boxing licence, have a professional fight.

The Wallaby fly-half is taking a break from rugby, and boxing and rugby league look certain to play a big part in his future.

"I have always liked boxing and wanted to give it a go, to test myself," said Cooper, which seems to be a familiar cry from other converts.

A few years ago Curtis Woodhouse turned his back on a football career that included a multimillion-pound move and an England cap at Under-21 level, and decided that boxing was his future.

He had a difficult baptism live on ITV, refused to quit, won and lost a few, and is now, six years and 21 fights later, a genuine leading contender for the British title.

"I have heard people giving Freddie some stick, but he's put the hours in and has been honest about it," said Woodhouse.

"I wish him the best and I know that by now he has realised just how hard it is. It's not a game."

Woodhouse has been an inspiration during his years as a boxer.

I tend to dismiss the cash-and-grab antics of the converted American footballers who invariably end their flirtation with real contact in a heap on the canvas.

However, the search is still on in America for the next heavyweight champion and discarded college football players have been targeted. Who knows, perhaps one will have a muscle on his chin.

However, it is impossible to ignore the achievements of Australian rugby league player Anthony Mundine, who is arguably the greatest crossover athlete in boxing history.

Mundine played for Australia's under-19 team against GB, lost in the 1999 NRL Grand Final and was considered a real star before walking away at just 25 in 2000.

He is also a great talker and harsh critic of 'racist' Australia's treatment of Aboriginals.

Mundine has twice won world titles and is still going strong.

His fight next year against Daniel Geale, an Aboriginal fighter from Tasmania, will be a guaranteed sell-out after Mundine challenged Geale's roots.

"I thought that they wiped all the Aborigines in Tasmania out," Mundine said, which caused outrage.

It is lucky that he can fight and that his own roots are reinforced every time he lashes out at the government.

Flintoff's debut is real and even if it turns into a carnival of luvvies swapping air kisses at ringside the reality is that after all the sacrifices our Freddie will have to fight.

Nobody has been conned and a dozen other fighters will benefit from the exposure. I just hope he doesn't look down.

Topics:  boxing, fighting, freddie flintoff, quade cooper, rugby, sonny bill williams


Stay Connected

Update your news preferences and get the latest news delivered to your inbox.

QLD: Gunmen on the run, shots fired

Police are searching for a white Nissan Patrol seen leaving the area at the time of the incident.

The incident occurred at about 10am on Spencer St

Ipswich CBD: Police tell 1000 to move on

Police staffing levels in the mall is high. Photo: Rob Williams / The Queensland Times

'Undesirables' targeted in Ipswich CBD police blitz

Revamp bringing more jobs to region

Lions Club Richlands has started a $12m redevelopment.

VIDEO: $12 million redevelopment will change face of sporting club

Latest deals and offers

Woolies to shut Masters by year end

Woolworths will close all stores of its failed hardware chain Masters in early December.

QLD: Gunmen on the run, shots fired

Police are searching for a white Nissan Patrol seen leaving the area at the time of the incident.

The incident occurred at about 10am on Spencer St

Ipswich CBD: Police tell 1000 to move on

Police staffing levels in the mall is high. Photo: Rob Williams / The Queensland Times

'Undesirables' targeted in Ipswich CBD police blitz

Revamp bringing more jobs to region

Lions Club Richlands has started a $12m redevelopment.

VIDEO: $12 million redevelopment will change face of sporting club

Offender won't see his newborn until Christmas Day

BEHIND BARS: A man is facing another lengthy stint away from his family after breaching his parole.

Father missed out on family time while in jail, court heard

Dumb act forces council to chop down 100-year-old trees

DEAD WOOD: Trees of more than 100 years of age have been poisoned at Queens Park. The council is offering a $4000 reward for information leading to the culprits.

Vandals poison century-old trees at Queens Park

Patti Smith confirmed for Bluesfest 2017

CONFIRMED: US singer Patti Smith performing in Switzerland last year.

Find out who else in the first line up announcement

Blac Chyna sued after car injured 2 women

Blac Chyna is being sued after her friend crashed into another car

Bachelor Richie gives bacon-loving Noni the boot

Noni Janur features on this season of The Bachelor.

TOOWOOMBA swimwear designer still single but focusing on her career.

Chris Hemsworth surprises kids at hospital as Thor

Chris Hemsworth and Tom Hiddleston surprised children at hospital

MOVIE REVIEW: War Dogs tells a fascinating true story

Miles Teller and Jonah Hill in a scene from the movie War Dogs.

DARKLY funny film examines the business side of the war on terror.

Marvel-ous: Thor actors visit sick kids at Lady Cilento

Stars of Thor: Ragnarok dropped in on patients at the hospital

Folk singer looking forward to her Gympie Muster debut

Alternative country folk singer Fanny Lumsden will perform at the Gympie Muster.

FANNY Lumsden to serenade new fans with her country hall-style show.

ISLAND FOR SALE: Cheap Fraser Coast island drops price again

Suna Island in the Great Sandy Strait will be auctioned by Ray White Hervey Bay on Saturday morning.

This is the cheapest island you will find for sale in Australia

How a family home can fit on a 250sq m block

This is what you can build on 250m2.

Here's the floor plan of a home built on 250sq m

$100m plan for Curtis Island 'world class' luxury resort

$100 million resort: Top views at Turtle Street at Curtis Island.

"At the moment we think it meets all the town planning approvals.”

Coast building approvals at seven-year high: report

The the 2015/16 Development Indicators Annual Highlights Report documents local development activity that took place during the last financial year.

New report shows increasing development on the Sunshine Coast

Top honours for Mackay and Whitsunday builders

The Kerrisdale Gardens property from Paynter Dixon Queensland which won them Project of the Year.

Mackay and Whitsunday builders awarded top honours last night.

Investors eye Gladstone's $4m island with resort approval

UP FOR SALE: Turtle Island is on the market.

CHINESE and Sydney investors flag interest in Gladstone island.