Rio Ferdinand has taken a U-turn on his plan to make his boxing debut as part of Betfair’s Defender to Contender challenge after announcing the British Boxing Board of Control refused to review his application for a professional licence.
The former Manchester United defender took to social media to express his disappointment on Thursday morning, having been forced to retire before his first fight.
In a statement, Ferdinand said: ‘Having been training 4-5 times a week since announcing the aim of achieving a professional boxing licence and stepping into the ring, it is with a heavy heart that I am hanging up my gloves on Betfair’s Defender to Contender challenge.
‘Despite having never felt better physically or mentally, after notifying the British Boxing Board of Control of my intention to apply for a licence, I have received confirmation that they would not be reviewing my application at this point in time.
‘To say I’m disappointed by this decision is an understatement. To not be given the chance to demonstrate my ability to the BBBoC through the standard assessment afforded to others is hard to take, not only for me, but also to Richie, Mel and the countless others who have dedicated their time to my boxing development over the past six months.
‘Boxing is a physically tough, demanding and dangerous sport. I always gave it my utmost respect and never underestimated how difficult it would be. I wanted to show people that it’s OK to have a goal and strive to reach it. It’s important to approach everything with success in mind, and to give it your all, but sometimes things work against you.
‘This sport has given me a new focus & drive and is something I will continue to do as part of my fitness regime. I’d like to say thank you to Betfair, Richie Woodhall, Duke McKenzie, my team at New Era Global Sports, the guys at GB Boxing and everyone who has supported me so far. It’s been a great journey.’
Ferdinand first announced his intention to step between the ropes back in September after Betfair had conjured up the idea and approached him three months earlier. Sorry Ferdinand!