Former England and Manchester United football captain Rio Ferdinand is attempting to follow in the footsteps of ex-cricket star Andrew ‘Freddie’ Flintoff after announcing plans to embark on a professional boxing career.
The near 39 year-old wants to lace up the gloves with ‘a belt’ on his mind in a bid to ‘channel his anger’ and ‘give himself something to focus on’ following the tragic death of his wife Rebecca in 2015.
Sadly, Mr. Ferdinand may have chosen the wrong avenue to walk down….
You only have to ask Curtis Woodhouse about that statement after the one-time Premier League star turned professional in 2006 on the back of months and months of preparation, coupled with solid determination and focus.
Judging by his social media posts, avid boxing fan Ferdinand has been training to the ‘Rocky’ theme whilst he pretends to call out Anthony Joshua, Tony Bellew and David Haye, something some in the sport can’t really take seriously or endear to.
Seasoned boxers, contenders and young stars have expressed their concern at Ferdinand’s intentions to box at nearly 40 years of age, whilst there are also a portion who seem to have taken offence.
Terms of ‘boxing can be bought by anyone’ and ‘I’ll have a go a playing for Manchester United then’ have been bandied around, plus ex-promoter Barry Hearn has already labelled Ferdinand ‘totally naïve’ for his trouble.
Whatever Ferdinand’s real reason is for needing to take out his frustrations, I’d hasten to say this won’t end well and is not in the same vein of the Flintoff ‘experiment’ which culminated in the now TV presenter having some egg on his face.
To his credit, Flintoff admitted his goal was just to fight once in the pro ranks, whereas Ferdinand is talking about ‘winning a belt’ and potentially being in the sport for years to come – despite his already veteran years.
More will be determined once Ferdinand eventually lines up an opponent, or worse gets hit on the chin in a competitive bout, which is likely to see the ‘Defender to Contender’ head right back to his football punditry duties without any title to speak of.
Phil Jay is Editor of World Boxing News. Follow on Twitter @PhilDJay