Former world champion Ricky Hatton believes Andrew Flintoff deserves admiration for taking up professional boxing.
Flintoff made his name as a successful cricketer but his change of sports has attracted positive and negative headlines with some pundits expressing concerns that the fight will damage the image of boxing.
But Hatton has spoken out in defence of Flintoff and is confident the 34-year-old can make a successful switch to boxing when he makes his debut on Friday against American Richard Dawson at Manchester Arena.
"Most people make their professional debut and a high percentage have a little bit of amateur experience, Freddie hasn't, he's started from absolute scratch," he told Sky Sports News.
"But he's very very passionate about boxing. It's been labelled a bit somewhere that he could end up making a mockery of the sport. Knowing the Freddie that I know, that has the passion for the sport, he won't want to do that.
"He's got a wonderful team in the McGuigan team behind him, they are not going to want to do that either. I think Freddie deserves as much chance as everybody to try and give something a go like this, which is his passion.
"There are millions out there that won't even get in the ring and do a bit of sparring and Freddie is doing it at the top level, MEN Arena, he's gone straight in there right under the spotlight of everybody. You've got to admire him for doing that.
"He's a professional, no matter what sport he does, he's a professional and he's certainly gone about it professionally."
Hatton called time on his own boxing career following last weekend's late stoppage defeat by Vyacheslav Senchenko and the Mancunian insists he has no regrets about returning for one more fight.
"I got what I wanted from it. I wanted answers and I wanted to find out if I still had it and I found out. I haven't got it," he said.
"I've drawn a line in the sand, I can move on with my life and I feel really happy and content if I'm honest."
Tags: Ricky Hatton , Andrew Flintoff