Get ready for Rio 2.0: Retired Man Utd legend Rio Ferdinand switches football pitch for boxing ring

Two years on from his retirement from professional football, Manchester United and England legend Rio Ferdinand is all set to launch his career in – wait for it – professional boxing.

Rio’s move into the ring is being backed by UK based betting company, ‘Betfair’, and is quite a departure from the role he currently occupies as a television pundit for BT Sport which he took up after retiring from his illustrious football career. He said, “I’m doing this because it’s a challenge. I’ve won titles and now I’m aiming for a belt.” Perhaps this decision was even made several months ago, as Ferdinand would regularly post videos to social media of him working with his personal trainer Mel Deane.

It was Betfair which approached Ferdinand about making the switch from football to boxing, and the company will assist him in qualifying for his British Boxing Board of Control (BBBC) license, before he dives into full fledged training and competition. “When Betfair approached me about the challenge, the chance to prove myself in a new sport was a real draw,” he said.

Ferdinand will be trained by former WBC super-middleweight champion and team GB coach, Richie Woodhall, who praised his raw attributes. “In all honesty, I think Rio can definitely box as a professional given time,” he said. “He has natural power in his right hand, is extremely fit and is very enthusiastic to learn which is encouraging. 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.”

However, English sporting promoter Barry Hearn was far less optimistic. He said, “It’s laughable. I like Rio, don’t get me wrong, but this is an advert for a reality TV show. If Tony Bellew, David Haye or Anthony Joshua hit Rio Ferdinand it would probably be prosecutable by the police for using a deadly weapon. He could get himself badly hurt. It’s OK if it’s just a bit of fun, making a TV show and making some money. I wish him luck, I hope he enjoys it but be very careful because it’s dangerous. He could get badly hurt and no promoter is going to sanction that. He’s being totally naive and underestimating boxing.”

Ferdinand has made more than 500 career club appearances playing for West Ham United, Leeds United, Manchester United and Queens Park Rangers. He has also been capped 81 times for England. Whether Ferdinand will really go on to make a mark in the world of boxing remains to be seen, but one thing is for sure. The fighter that he was on the football pitch, he will undoubtedly give it his all in this new chapter of life!


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