Boxing

British Boxing Board of Control respond to Rio Ferdinand's career plans

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Rio Ferdinand may have announced plans for a career in boxing amidst a blaze of publicity, but the former footballer turned television pundit has still managed to blindside the sport's authorities.

Ferdinand, 38, is looking to follow in the footsteps of Leon McKenzie and Curtis Woodhouse, who both stepped into the ring after careers on the pitch.

Woodhouse won the British light-welterweight title at the age of 33, and Ferdinand has set himself the target of lifting a belt in a year's time.

The former Manchester United defender, who won six Premier League titles and 81 England caps, has the backing of Betfair, who helped Olympic track cyclist Victoria Pendleton's crossover to horse-racing, culminating in a fifth place finish at Cheltenham's Foxhunter Chase last year.

And, Ferdinand's plans are given added credibility at having former world super-middleweight champion and Team GB coach Richie Woodhall as his trainer.

However, Robert Smith, general secretary of the British Boxing Board of Control, told Sky Sports: "It was surprising that anybody would announce anything without contacting the governing body."

Asked if the Board would consider handing Ferdinand a licence, Smith added: "There's nothing to consider. I have not received an application so there's nothing to consider.

"I heard, for the first time, on the radio.

"If we receive an application we will consider it, as we have to do. But we've had no correspondence from Mr. Ferdinand."

Former cricketer Andrew Flintoff also pursued a possible career in the ring, but this proved short-lived, starting and ending with a points win in a four-round bout in 2012.

And, Smith said Flintoff only considered applying after a training period of more than six months.

Ferdinand's announcement has received a mixed reaction from the great and good amongst the boxing fraternity, with perhaps the most damning coming from promoter Barry Hearn.

Scoring Ferdinand's chances of obtaining a licence at only "50/50", Hearn told BBC Radio 5 Live: "It's laughable isn't it. He is being totally naive and totally underestimating boxing."

The authorities are there to make sure the sport is safe, and that involves very tough tests to make sure he is capable of stepping into the ring.

If he can achieve that, let him have his chance, it's not a problem.

Woodhall concurs. Writing in the Evening Standard, he states: "I have told Rio and the people around him that it will be difficult to just get a licence from the British Boxing Board of Control." 

Woodhall added that a title bout was a long way away but he was confident that they could "achieve something remarkable together."

Topics:
Boxing
David Haye
Floyd Mayweather

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