Rio Ferdinand made an appearance on The Clare Balding Show on Friday night and directly responded to comments made by Tony Bellew.
The former footballer announced his intention to turn professional at the age of 39 and was met by a barrage from ex-world champion Bellew, who thought Ferdinand was being disrespectful to boxing.
In an interview with betsafe.com posted on World Boxing News, Bellew said: “He’s making a mockery of our sport.
“This sport is not a game, it’s a serious sport and can be very dangerous.
“This is attention seeking of the highest order. I understand that he might have frustrations that he wants to get out.
“But I believe he could do that in the gym, why does he need to go in a boxing ring?
“He’s a healthy man with a beautiful family and I have huge respect for him after watching the documentary on his family.
“But this stinks of desperation and not being able to let go out of the spotlight,” added ‘The Bomber’.
Speaking with Balding on BT Sport, Ferdinand replied jokingly: “Some attention seeking to go through this pain. You’ve got to be a lunatic to do it like that.
“I’ll never going into this disrespecting (the sport) and thinking it’ll be easy, I’m taking this seriously. I’ve got a coach that went on holiday with me and my kids, that’s how important it is to me and that’s how seriously I’m taking it.
“This is now fly by thing where it’s just about press and PR. I can get that a million other ways.
“This is something I’m into, I’m serious about and I want to win,” said the one-time England star.
The coach Ferdinand speaks of is respected and retired pro Richie Woodhall, who is whipping the previously most expensive defender in the world into shape ahead of an anticipated debut in 2018.