Rio Ferdinand’s much-publicised switch from the football field to the boxing ring got some unexpected backing this week in the shape of one of the biggest prospects in the domestic fight game.
The ex-Manchester United and England defender is hoping to make his professional debut later this year and has joined forces with one of the most respected names in the game in Richie Woodall as his trainer.
This is being portrayed as no gimmick with the understanding that Ferdinand is consumed with the sport and is serious in his ambition to make an impact and ultimately win titles.
It comes as no surprise that there are many within boxing highly sceptical of the project, but the man who made 514 appearances as a professional footballer and gained 81 caps for his country, has gained unequivocal support from a surprising source in the shape of domestic heavyweight Cheavon Clarke.
The amateur prospect, who will represent Great Britain at the Commonwealth Games later this year, has recently sparred with Ferdinand and is in no doubt that the now respected pundit has what it takes to be a success in his new sport.
“I moved around with Rio in Sheffield. It was his first time and it was a great experience,” Clarke told World Boxing News.
“With him being an ex-footballer, he’s got that competitive spirit in him - he’s used to that element of competitiveness and has transferred it over. He’s exceeding in what he is doing.”
The 27-year-old admitted that, at first, he was cynical of the motives behind Ferdinand entering the sport, but has been impressed by his hunger and desire to succeed and also added that the Londoner is in great shape.
“All I’ll say on that is he can handle himself.
“He’s a very nice guy. Hes very down to earth, they don‘t come more real than him from what I have seen.
“At first, I was like, ‘hmm, not sure about this,’ but as I said he’s obviously taken it seriously.”
Ferdinand is also being backed in his boxing ambition by bookmakers Betfair and together they have labelled the project, ‘Defender To Contender’ with the date for his debut fight due to be announced in the coming months.
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