TRAINER Ian "Jumbo" Johnson was involved in one of the most high-profile bouts of his career when he was the cut-man for Andrew Flintoff during the former England international cricketer's recent foray into the ring.
Johnson has known the McGuigans for years, helping their prospect Callum Frampton when he was on these shores, among other work with the Irish brothers.
On November 30, Flintoff jumped in the ring with fellow novice Richard Dawson, the whole thing chronicled in a TV series on Sky.
Based at Jumbo Boxing in Redhill, Johnson has been in the corner for a number of top professionals, but said working with Freddie was a real privilege.
"He's such a humble man," he said. "I don't think he will carry on boxing but I don't think he set out to. He got everything he wanted in one night - the crowd, the knock down, a black eye to show he's been in a fight.
"His boxing went out of the window a bit when he got tight, but for me it just showed how hard boxing is if you have never done it before. He had a lovely jab and used it very well, but he's not a natural fighter and had to work very, very hard for it. I was very impressed with his attitude."
While admitting his most high profile bout was when he cornered for Albert Sosnowski in a world title fight with Vitali Klitschko, Johnson added the atmosphere was electric and that the cricketer had done enough to deserve it.
He said: "The crowd of 5,000 was phenomenal. He [Flintoff] said there were times where if it wasn't for Barry and Shane pushing him he could easily have given up."