The Pugilist

Congrats, Freddie! Now forget Vegas and retire

This won't go down well with many boxing purists, but The Pugilist thoroughly enjoyed the entire Andrew Flintoff crossover escapade.

As an England cricketing hero, the publicity for his attempt to switch sports was of course huge. The interviews and documentaries leading up to his professional debut this past Friday were intriguing and nicely done. And as barmy as the whole thing was, nothing about it came across as fake.

Flintoff and father-and-son trainers Barry and Shane McGuigan were all very honest and realistic in their approach to his fight with Richard Dawson. They said that if they were after a profitable publicity stunt, they could easily have made one that didn't involve months of rigorous gym work.

When bell time arrived at the Manchester Arena, home of Ricky Hatton's poignant farewell fight six days prior, Freddie of course was amateurish and naïve.

But in a short (4x2 minute rounds) fight against a mostly harmless fellow rookie, Flintoff brought the audience to their feet with his enthusiasm and learned a valuable lesson from his second-round knockdown.

Some have said the event impeded the progress of 'true' students of the sport, who have clawed their way through the amateur ranks to earn pro status.

Fact is, if those fighters had the cricketing abilities of Freddie Flintoff in his prime, they would have taken the exact same career path as he did before pursuing his dreams of becoming Lancashire's answer to Rocky Balboa.

And does anyone really care if fame opens a few doors for a modern day folk hero like Flintoff? Everybody does it: from acting to music to singing to sports to whatever else, anyone can hop onto an adjacent career ladder after climbing high to the top of one, at the expense of those climbing beneath them.

The plain fact is that 5,000 fans wouldn't have paid to watch any other fresh-faced rookie's first bout at the MEN Arena, with many times that number following the fight live right here at Yahoo!-Eurosport.

Until interest in such events stagnates - and our own coverage racked up the sort of numbers only Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao usually attain — there will always be a supply for the demand.

So the Pugilist would like to congratulate Mr Flintoff for his hard work, change of lifestyle and days of frantic nerves all paying off in a lucrative, fulfilling and attention-snatching manner.

But now if you could please quit the sport, that would be awesome. Thanks.

Don't get me wrong: if Flintoff feels he has the tank to prepare for another fight, or several more fights, there will be plenty of punters willing to watch and media sources happy to provide coverage the world's up-and-coming fighters would kill for.

But let's face it: amidst the positives of a debut win and a valuable learning experience for a lifelong fan, there were plenty of signs that Flintoff will likely never go any further than eight-minute scraps with carefully-chosen opponents.

His punching technique was, for the most part, more akin to a scrap outside a pub at kicking out time rather than a big arena. His physique - even though he'd done well to shift weight and develop his arms and legs - was still far short of that of the average boxer. David Haye he is not.

More importantly, whether he learns from the error or not, the manner in which he was put on the canvas by an opportunistic counter from a punch-shy nobody was the sort of boxing sin that would see clubs such as London's famous Repton BC advising the fighter of a career change.

Flintoff could stop now, with a very flattering 'perfect' record, having realised his dream. He could retire now having pursued and achieved the sort of crazy life goal many of his critics give up on after a quick daydream inside the staff toilets of their day job.

Unfortunately, The Pugilist stumbled across reports this morning that not only will he fight again, but Flintoff has his eyes on fighting on a card in Las Vegas.

Can you imagine Flintoff supporting one of the many events held at glamorous venues such as the MGM Grand Gardens, Mandalay Bay, Caesars Palace…?

Nor can I.

"Vegas is a distinct possibility. If he comes to me in three weeks' time and says Vegas is on, then we'll see," Barry McGuigan said after the bout.

"He has told me how he'd love to fight in America. Can you imagine what that would be like? It would do wonders for the tourist board out there for sure."

Because, as we know, an English cricketer flying halfway across the world to fight four rounds against another bum is the kind of shot in the arm that the flagging Vegas tourist economy badly needs.

Ahem.

It seems to be the done thing in boxing that fighters get ideas above their station and carry on for a lot longer than they really should. In that sense, maybe Flintoff is a 'proper' pugilist after all.

But in all seriousness, a return to the ring — especially one in 'Viva Lost Wages' — would be the proverbial overstepping of the imaginary line for this extraordinary project.

Like Hatton, Flintoff got the answers his mind had been demanding for a long time when he donned the gloves at Manchester Arena in November.

Now, like 'The Hitman', the Ashes hero should take his answers and walk away.

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Tyson Fury and David Price shocked absolutely no-one in their more established heavyweight encounters at the weekend. The Pugilist would like to take this opportunity to underscore Kevin Johnson's latest protest at the concept of the work ethic and say 'I told you so'.

That said, Price and Fury had one thing in common with their latest respective foregone conclusions: they each took who was put in front of them and did a very professional job.

Congratulations to both on another step towards the 'promised land', albeit one which realistically should still be at least a year away from the two of them.

From the sounds of the post-fight discussions, however, it would appear that only one of the two is willing to wait that long...