Flintoff survives scare to win debut fight Allakhverdiev clinches WBA super-lightweight title

MANCHESTER, Dec 1, (RTRS): Former England cricketer Andrew Flintoff beat American Richard Dawson on points after surviving a knockdown in his first professional fight at the MEN Arena in Manchester on Friday.
The 34-year-old got a rousing reception from the 5,000 fans and won the first of four two-minute rounds before being caught by a left hook early in the second that sent him to the canvas. However, Flintoff got up to receive a standing eight count and battled back with a more composed performance against a flagging opponent for a 39-38 win on the referee’s scorecard.

“You talk about the Ashes and things but as a personal achievement, this is the best,” Flintoff, part of England’s Ashes-winning teams in 2005 and 2009, told BoxNation. Despite his successful start the former all-rounder was cautious about his future in the sport, saying “we’ll see how we go. It’s not natural to me, I’ve had to work so hard. “The feeling of being in there and winning at the end, I can’t believe it but I’m not pretending to be something I’m not,” he added.

Flintoff, coached by former world champion Barry McGuigan, had weighed in at 216lbs (97.98kg), 25lbs (11.34kg) lighter than Dawson, 23, who had won his previous two professional fights. Flintoff, who played 79 tests before retiring from cricket in September 2010 through injury, became a national treasure by leading England to their famous Ashes victory in 2005 - their first test series win over Australia in almost two decades.


Meanwhile, Russia’s Khabib Allakhverdiev won the vacant World Boxing Association super-lightweight title on Friday, beating Joan Guzman of the Dominican Republic on a technical decision.
Guzman, the former two-division champion, fell to canvas as he tried to avoid a punch in the eighth round at the BB&T Center. Guzman gingerly walked to a corner, favoring his left leg, but informed referee Luis Pabon he wanted to resume the fight. Allakhderviev (18-0) quickly pursued Guzman (33-1) and landed a left to the head that appeared to have knocked down Guzman. Pabon didn’t rule it a knockdown, but Guzman told Pabon and his trainer, Herman Caicedo, he could not continue fighting because of the leg injury.
 

Judges Michael Pernick and Mark Streisand had Allakhverdiev ahead, 76-75, at the time of the stoppage. Judge Nelson Vazquez was scoring the fight for Guzman, 76-75.
Allakhverdiev scored with two straight rights and a left hook to the head that sent Guzman to the canvas in the third round for the fight’s only genuine knockdown. Guzman landed shots to the body in an attempt to neutralize the taller Allakhverdiev in the fourth.


The 29-year-old Allakhverdiev had another strong round in the fifth, keeping Guzman on the defensive and connecting with lefts to the head.
After ending his reigns as junior-bantamweight and junior-featherweight champion, Guzman twice failed to make weight in two title bids. He also was suspended for eight months after testing positive for a banned substance following his second-round TKO win over Jason Davis in December 2010. The result was reversed to a no-contest.
The win meant Allakhverdiev also retained the IBO light-welterweight title.
 

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