Andrew Flintoff hopes to draw on the experience of his cricket career as he approaches his boxing debut

Last Updated: 29/11/12 11:05pm

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Andrew Flintoff hopes his experiences as a cricketer will help him mentally prepare for his professional boxing debut on Friday night.

Flintoff forged a hugely successful cricket career at international and county level before retiring in 2010, but he is now starting life as a boxer in a move which has been greeted with surprise and criticism.

"There will be critics and doubters out there and it's a big task I've taken on, I'm just concentrating on the fight and we'll see what the reaction is."
Andrew Flintoff

The 34-year-old will have his first fight against American Richard Dawson at Manchester Arena and Flintoff admits he is taking a step into the unknown.

But the former England Test captain is hopeful he will handle the pressure after holding his nerve before in intimidating venues both home and abroad.

"It's going to be different in some ways, I'm going into the unknown a little bit," he told Sky Sports News.

"But you know, having walked out in the likes of India in front of 100,000 people, going out at Old Trafford and one of the most intimidating atmospheres I've played in as a Lancastrian at Headingley, will stand me in good stead.

"So yeah hopefully my past experiences I can draw on, but there is that unknown as well, walking to a boxing ring inside an arena, rather than walking to the crease."

Nerves

Flintoff has been viewed as a light-hearted character both during and after his spell as a cricketer, but he is deadly serious about his new sport.

"You can't go into this for a bit of fun, it's a serious sport, a serious business. I found that out over the past few months, doing the sparring, doing the training", said the heavyweight, who tipped the scales at a trim 15st 6lbs.

"I fully accept he is coming over to win as am I, but I think every fighter experiences the nerves as they come into the ring but it is how they deal with that and overcome that."

Dawson at the age of 23, will have the advantage of youth, and has won his two fights, a fact not lost on Flintoff, who is expecting a tough contest.

"He's fought before, he's unbeaten, he's flown over from America and he's made good progress in his career so far," said Flintoff.

"It will be a competitive contest."

Pundits and trainers have raised concerns about Flintoff's decision to take up boxing, but he is refusing to let any criticism unsettle him.

"There will be critics and doubters out there and it's a big task I've taken on, I'm just concentrating on the fight and we'll see what the reaction is.

"It depends if you take it on board - as a cricketer I didn't read too much of the press, I just wanted to be comfortable in what I'm doing.

"It's not something we're talking about in our camp, we're concentrating on tomorrow night and putting all the good work into practice."

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