"I'm doing this because it's a challenge. I’ve won titles and now I'm aiming for a belt."
These were the words of former Manchester United and England defender Rio Ferdinand, who shocked everyone earlier this week by announcing his plans to become a professional boxer, two years after hanging up his boots.
"When Betfair approached me about the challenge, the chance to prove myself in a new sport was a real draw," the 38-year-old added.
Ferdinand has kept himself in decent shape since retiring from football but nobody expected this announcement.
Some people believe the BT Sport pundit risks endangering his health by stepping into the ring, including the football-turned-boxer Curtis Woodhouse.
Curtis Woodhouse's warning to Rio
“My advice to Rio would be show the game the respect it deserves,” Woodhouse, the former Sheffield United and Birmingham City midfielder, tweeted. “This is no joke, you can die ‘playing’ boxing. I wish him well.”
Ferdinand's coach has backed him to surprise people
However, Ferdinand’s coach Richie Woodhall, the Team GB coach and former WBC super-middleweight champion, has seen enough to convince him that the former centre-back has what it takes to become a pro boxer.
"In all honesty, I think Rio can definitely box as a professional given time. He has natural power in his right hand, is extremely fit and is very enthusiastic to learn which is encouraging," Woodhall told BBC Sport.
"Style wise, he's very raw and I'll have to develop this, which will take time, but he has all the natural ingredients, height and reach advantages over boxers in his weight division and definitely has potential to win a title in the future."
Rio has already received an offer from Anthony Joshua
Ferdinand revealed in his press conference earlier this week that Anthony Joshua has already offered to help him prepare for his first fight.
"We were on a plane together and he offered to help me," he was quoted as saying by the Mirror. "He invited me to the gym for sparring."
Now Tyson Fury has tweeted him
And now he’s received a message on Twitter from Tyson Fury.
“Looking forward to seeing this,” Fury tweeted, alongside of a photo of Ferdinand from a tabloid newspaper. “From Football star to boxing star, if you need any tips on being a bad ass call me @rioferdy5. Good luck 🍀“
We’re not sure if Rio will take Fury up on his offer, to be honest, but it’s nice to know the offer’s there.
Reaction to Fury's tweet
Here’s how boxing fans have reacted to Fury’s message of support…
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