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.

Primary students experiment in lab

LAB RATS: Minden student Bella Morton and Walloon student Coen Russell enjoying the Faith Lutheran College science day.

Faith Lutheran College hosts its inaugural science day.

Peace Playgroup celebrates decade

YUMMY SCRUMMY: Peace Playgroup children blow out the candles for the 10th birthday celebrations.

Peace Playgroup has proudly celebrated a special milestone.

Faith college fair full of fun

Year 7 FLC students Jayden, Kalani and Clarissa.

Fairly good turn out at Faith

Latest deals and offers

Gatton's Regina Samykanu is making a difference

Regina is bridging gaps with passion and a smile

Primary students experiment in lab

LAB RATS: Minden student Bella Morton and Walloon student Coen Russell enjoying the Faith Lutheran College science day.

Faith Lutheran College hosts its inaugural science day.

Peace Playgroup celebrates decade

YUMMY SCRUMMY: Peace Playgroup children blow out the candles for the 10th birthday celebrations.

Peace Playgroup has proudly celebrated a special milestone.

Faith college fair full of fun

Year 7 FLC students Jayden, Kalani and Clarissa.

Fairly good turn out at Faith

Big crowd visits Gatton's over-50s expo

Dale Ann Dowden, 70, of Gatton enjoying the over 50s Lifestyle Expo.

Seniors learn about Valley's services

Leading the way on multiculturalism

HONOUR: Regina Samykau-Vuthapanich collects her award for Services and Communities individual of the year during the 2016 Queensland Multicultural Awards.

Lockyer Valley local wins at the Queensland Multicultural Awards.

Die-hard fan's 34 magic Gympie Muster years

STICK AROUND FOR A BEER: Mal Williams has been at every Gympie Muster for 34 years.

Mal Williams has only missed one Muster in 35 years - the first one

Tom Hiddleston's Instagram account hacked

Actor Tom Hiddleston

Thor star the latest celebrity targetted by hackers

Charlize Theron's son dresses up as Frozen character

Actor Charlize Theron

Star's son spotted dressed a beloved Frozen character

BOOKS: Food for thought in Caroline Beecham's latest novel

Maggie's Kitchen by Caroline Beecham is published by Allen & Unwin, RRP $29.99.

New novel reminds readers that bravery exists in many forms

TELEVISION: New show is a Survivor, for now

Jonathan LaPaglia hosts the TV series Australian Survivor.

WHAT happens when a new show with a big budget flops?

Rachel Weisz understands celebrity gossip fascination

Actor Rachel Weisz

Weisz says mystery is good for an actor

Gina Rodriguez relished dramatic change for new film

Jane the Virgin lead Gina Rodriguez

TV star shaved her hair for movie role

REVEALED: Pat Rafter's $18m Coast house on the market

Check out the photos of the Coast's most expensive property for sale

The "correction we had to have" in Gladstone's rentals

UPWARD MARCH: The rental vacancy rate in Gladstone has improved for the first time in more than a year, providing a confidence boost in the market.

Vacancy rates improve with signs that things are getting betterF

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.”

Noosa mayor on "red alert" over planning court decision

Mayor Tony Wellington hands down his first budget.

Mayor upset at lack of say about look and feel of Noosa