Freddie Flintoff is set to swap the pads of cricket for the gloves of boxing. (Photo by Clive Mason/Getty Images)
In a bizarre sporting switch, former England cricketer Andrew Flintoff has announced plans to become a professional boxer.
The 34-year-old is hoping to make his pro debut on November 30 at the Manchester MEN Arena - but Flintoff needs to be granted a licence by the British Boxing Board of Control.
Flintoff is being trained by Barry McGuigan and his son Shane, and after six weeks of training Flintoff has already lost two stone. Flintoff's journey will be turned into a two-part documentary, but the ex-England cricketing favourite is adamant that this is a serious challenge and not a mere publicity stunt.
Flintoff quit cricket in 2010 but told the Sun Newspaper:
"This is the biggest challenge I've ever taken. I love boxing and I'm serious about what I'm doing now. I'm going to live and breathe as a boxer and make all the sacrifices. We're doing a TV documentary but that is not going to get in the way of training.
"With cricket you can lose but in boxing you can get properly hurt so I'm not messing about with it. You can build it up as much as you want and be as hard as you like but being punched is not nice.
"I have to lose weight to be a heavyweight! I've got a diet which I've stuck to and the weight is dropping off. My knee has not felt as good as this for a long time. But I'm more worried about being punched than having a sore knee!"
Robert Smith, the general secretary of the British Board of Control, said Flintoff has yet to apply for a licence. However they usually take up to six weeks, so Flintoff still has time to apply.
Although it's a strange turn of events, Flintoff won't be the first in recent years to try his hand at boxing after a different sport. Curtis Woodhouse was a footballer before turning to the beautiful art and has won 16 of his 20 contests, and Anthony Mundine, Garth Wood, and Sonny Bill Williams all came from rugby.
Flintoff is a big man and fair play to him for having a go. He looks like he will carry some power but there's much more to boxing. Can he take a punch? What's his movement like? Can he get the fitness to do long rounds after standing on a field for hours on end playing cricket?
There will be plenty of critics but his debut is set to be shown live on BoxNation should it go ahead. Whether it will be a success is anyone's guess.