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.

Salvos deal with family pain in wake of suicide

Domestic violence spiked in Logan over the Christmas and New Year break.Photo illustration Claudia Baxter JA1310BZZ

Captain Jo Chant has witnessed the devastating affects of suicide.

Judge send ice junkie to cooler

A man who went on a ice-fuelled crime spree has been jailed.

50 tablets 'enough to kill a person', teen took 100

Sheridan attempted to end her own life after swallowing more than 100 tablets used to treat her mother's medical condition.

Mum’s heartache as Ipswich teenager overdoses on tablets

Latest deals and offers

Maroons Origin combos remains streets ahead of Blues

FOUR Queensland players have won more Origin series than NSW captain Paul Gallen has won Origin matches.

Salvos deal with family pain in wake of suicide

Domestic violence spiked in Logan over the Christmas and New Year break.Photo illustration Claudia Baxter JA1310BZZ

Captain Jo Chant has witnessed the devastating affects of suicide.

Judge send ice junkie to cooler

A man who went on a ice-fuelled crime spree has been jailed.

50 tablets 'enough to kill a person', teen took 100

Sheridan attempted to end her own life after swallowing more than 100 tablets used to treat her mother's medical condition.

Mum’s heartache as Ipswich teenager overdoses on tablets

Police chopper needed to end dangerous driving spree

Police seize cannabis plants near Dairyville. Polair helped out. Photo: Rob Wright / The Coffs Coast Advocate

Police helicopter called in as dangerous driver evades capture

Pedophile back before court for allegedly drinking alcohol

Brisbane Supreme District Court

Police claim breach of strict supervision order

The best retro movies of the week? May 27 - June 3

Gregory Peck Photo Contributed

This week TV fan get to see Tom Cruise in a 1980s classics

Barnaby Joyce talks Johnny Depp's dogs in Tweed

Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce talks about Johnny Depp's dogs Pistol and Boo...

Billy Slater talks Origin Team

Queensland Origin great Billy Slater.

Queensland Origin great Billy Slater talks about this years team and his return to...

Road rage caught on Dashcam

Attack with a baseball bat caught on Dashcam

Video of a violent road rage incident in Orange last December.

Own Sunshine Coast property? You’re about to make money

UP AND UP: Property owners are likely to win from rent and price increases but tenants and first home buyers might not be so happy. Photo: Brett Wortman / Sunshine Coast Daily

Good new for property owners, not so good for buyers and tenants.

Sale nears on last large block of land in Coolum

The 43.37ha property on South Coolum Rd has sold.

South Coolum Rd property to be land banked