Former England cricketer Andrew “Freddie” Flintoff is swapping his cricket pads for boxing gloves in new Sky1 series The Gloves Are Off.
The 34-year-old – whose persistent injuries forced his retirement from cricket in September 2010 – has begun four months of training with boxing legend Barry McGuigan in preparation for a heavyweight bout against an as yet-unknown professional boxer.
The build-up to the fight at Manchester’s MEN Arena on November 30 will be filmed and turned into a two-part documentary to be shown on Sky1, in addition to an hour-long post-fight special.
Flintoff – who helped England to victory against Australia in the 2005 Ashes – said: “This is an amazing opportunity to try a sport that I love, to be tutored by a man I respect and admire and, at the age of 34, the chance to be a professional sportsman again.
“It’s a huge challenge – probably the biggest I have ever undertaken, especially in such a short timeframe. The stakes are high.”
Former world featherweight champion McGuigan, who will train Flintoff alongside his son Shane, said: “It is an enormous undertaking to have a professional fight having no experience whatsoever. It is even more demanding when you’re a legend in another sport.
“The pressure for Freddie, myself and my son is phenomenal given the little time we have. But I’m convinced Freddie will make a successful pro debut as a boxer.”
In order to take part in the fight, Flintoff must first be granted a licence by the British Boxing Board of Control whose general secretary, Robert Smith, has revealed that the organisation has yet to receive an application for the show in question:
“An application can take three to four weeks or longer depending on the circumstances. He will have to pass medicals and there are measures in place to see whether an applicant can actually box.
“It is quite unusual. We haven’t had many people apply with no experience at all, but there is a history of footballers and rugby league players taking up boxing.”
The bout will be shown on boxing channel BoxNation and tickets for the fight will go on sale this Friday.
Sign up to the Radio Times newsletter for the latest TV and entertainment news