MANCHESTER: Andrew Flintoff will take his time before deciding if he will continue boxing after his successful heavyweight debut against American Richard Dawson.
The former England cricket captain beat Dawson 39-38 on points after a lively affair in front of 5,000 raucous fans at the Manchester Arena, but only after being knocked down in the second round of the four-round contest.
The 34-year-old said he will wait until after Christmas before deciding if he will continue his foray into the paid-ranks of boxing.
“I really enjoyed it. I said at the start that I knew I was starting at a novice level,” said the former England all-rounder, who sported a black eye in his post-fight news conference.
“I want some time off, have a nice Christmas. After Christmas I will start to decide what to do. It is quite fresh, still quite raw what happened.” Flintoff had been accused in some boxing quarters of demeaning the sport by thinking he could just casually walk into the professional ranks.
But that did not stop former England teammates, Matthew Hoggard and Steve Harmison, being at ringside to see the man who was twice an Ashes winner during his cricket career.
Flintoff entered the ring wearing the shirt of his county team, Lancashire.
But it was a walk very different to the one he used to make from the pavilion to the crease, this time the roped-off ring awaited him after Dawson had entered to a chorus of boos.
It was, by Flintoff’s admission, a sluggish affair but he started the fight well, pawing out jabs while Dawson looked disinterested from the off.
But in the second round, the American caught him off balance with an accurate, but hardly powerful, left that put the Englishman on the canvas.
He beat the count and recovered, before regaining his composure and dominating the final two rounds to deservedly take the contest.
“It was probably everything and more,” said Flintoff.
“It was not one for the purists. Walking out there with the crowd, completely different feeling than I ever had before.
“I think I got the full experience. I got the canvas, black eye and the win. It was like an out of body experience.
“Shane (McGuigan, his coach) said you worked so hard don’t leave anything in the ring. In my cricket career that was similar to how I played. It was a bit ragged and arms going, I just wanted to leave it all in the ring.
“This was not about degrading boxing, we wanted to show boxing as it is, a fantastic thing.”