1. ITV Report

Flintoff survives knockdown to win maiden boxing bout

Andrew Flintoff hailed the victory as the "best" personal achievement of his sporting career. Photo: Dave Thompson/PA Wire

Former England cricket favourite Andrew "Freddie" Flintoff rebounded from an early knockdown to claim a points victory on his professional boxing debut.

The 34-year-old hit the canvas in the second round of his heavyweight encounter with American Richard Dawson at Manchester Arena.

But he recovered to box his way to a maiden win that he quickly claimed to be the "best" personal achievement of his sporting career.

Flintoff fought through four two-minute rounds to claim the professional win. Credit: Dave Thompson/PA Wire

Flintoff enjoyed thunderous applause from the 5,000 fans who attended the televised fight as his 39-38 points victory was read out with both men still standing after four two-minute rounds, while former teammates and celebrity fans tweeted high praise.

American Richard Dawson put the Lancashire hero on the canvas during the second round. Credit: Dave Thompson/PA Wire
But Flintoff responded with his own blows to impress the judges. Credit: Dave Thompson/PA Wire

Former England captain Michael Vaughan - who is also trying his hand at a different physical test on the Strictly dance floor - led the Twitter plaudits, saying:

The cricket hero spent five months in training for Friday night's bout. Credit: Dave Thompson/PA Wire

Former England batsman Adam Hollioake, who entered the worlds of professional boxing and mixed martial arts after his own cricket career ended, singled out Flintoff's strength in fighting back to claim victory.

Celebrity cricket fan Piers Morgan also weighed in with his own compliment:

Flintoff said he wanted to show the sacrifices fighters make before entering the ring. Credit: Dave Thompson/PA Wire

The star of the night described the fight, which is the subject of a Sky documentary series, as an "out of body experience" despite five months of intense training.

Sporting several bruises from his encounter, Flintoff told reporters:

I think I got the full experience. I got the canvas. I got a black eye. And I got the win. ... It was a bit wragged and arms going - I just wanted to leave it all in that ring.