sport

Flintoff develops spiteful side

Andrew Flintoff has been forced to develop a spiteful side as he closes in on the greatest challenge of his life.

Flintoff makes his professional boxing debut over four rounds against novice American Richard Dawson in Manchester on November 30.

The 34-year-old former England cricket captain admits sparring sessions have taught him to harden his attitude in the ring.

"One of the things I had to overcome is that I'm not the most confrontational bloke," he said.

"When I played cricket every now and then I would be, but it didn't bring out the best in me.

"There has to be a ruthless streak in the ring, so there's been a change mentally to achieve that."

Flintoff faced some of cricket's biggest names during a career that numbered 79 Test appearances and 141 one-day internationals, but insists boxing has tested him like never before.

"In cricket the mental aspect was tough but this has taken that to a whole new level," he said.

"You're up and down all the time, you get nervous before a sparring session, you're on a high when you're in there and then an hour later you're flat.

"The diet's had its' moments....eating steak at 530am isn't the easiest. Giving up booze has been all right though. It's been a lifestyle change."

Flintoff laced up a glove in anger for the first time four months ago so his limitations are hardly surprising.

His training camp has been filmed for a three-part Sky1HD series to be screened on November 22 and criticism of the project has been strong within boxing.

But Flintoff insists he is fighting for the right reasons.

"You couldn't go through this for a TV stunt," he said.

"If I was looking for a publicity stunt I'd have picked something easier. There's other things I could have done.

"We want to show the sport in the best possible light because ultimately I'm a boxing fan as well."