Rio Ferdinand raised eyebrows in September after announcing that he was launching a new career as a professional boxer, two years after retiring from football.
The former Manchester United and England defender, who turned 39 earlier this month, told reporters at a press conference that he was ready for the challenge.
"I've won titles,” Ferdinand told a group of gathered journalists, “and now I'm aiming for a belt."
While some boxers, including Anthony Joshua, backed Ferdinand’s decision and promised to offer him advice if he wanted it, others were less enthused about the former footballer’s plans.
Among those critical of the decision was Tony Bellew, who accused Ferdinand of ‘making a mockery’ of boxing.
Bellew: Ferdinand is making a mockery of boxing
"He’s making a mockery of our sport,” Bellew told betsafe.com, per the Telegraph. “This sport is not a game, it’s a serious sport and can be very dangerous.
“This is attention seeking of the highest order. I understand that he might have frustrations that he wants to get out.
“But I believe he could do that in the gym, why does he need to go in a boxing ring?
“He’s a healthy man with a beautiful family and I have huge respect for him after watching the documentary on his family.
“But this stinks of desperation and not being able to let go out of the spotlight."
Ferdinand finally responds to Bellew's comments
Two months on from those comments and Ferdinand, via the Claire Balding Show on BT Sport, has finally responded to the Liverpool-born fighter.
“Some attention seeking to go through this pain,” Ferdinand laughed. “You’ve got to be a lunatic to do it like that.”
He added: “I’ll never going into this disrespecting [boxing] and thinking it’ll be easy, I’m taking this seriously. I’ve got a coach that went on holiday with me and my kids, that’s how important it is to me and that’s how seriously I’m taking it.
“This is now fly by thing where it’s just about press and PR. I can get that a million other ways.
“This is something I’m into, I’m serious about and I want to win.”
Video: Ferdinand responds to Bellew
Watch Rio's response to Bellew by skipping to 3:15 in this video...
Well said, Rio.
Look at Ferdinand as he talks and you can tell that he’s deadly serious.
Whatever you think about his decision, you can’t blame him for feeling insulted by Bellew’s unnecessary comments.
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