Rio Ferdinand’s bid to swap the football pitch for the boxing ring has been dismissed as a “joke” by rising Scottish fight star Josh Taylor.
Taylor, who is charting a course towards a world title fight within the coming 12 months, said the revelation that the former Manchester United and England defender is looking to embark on a boxing career at the age of 38 “cheapens the sport”.
“You’ve seen the likes of Curtis Woodhouse and Leon McKenzie who have done it. David Brophy was a footballer as well. But those guys were all young enough to learn how to box and had done a bit of boxing when they were young and knew what it was about.
“Ferdinand must be nearly 40. To think he can turn professional is a bit much and, if he is granted a licence, it’s a bit of a joke. I know Freddie Flintoff did it, so I guess it can be done but it cheapens the sport a little bit.
“I thought it might be a thing for charity but if it is to become an actual fighter, then it’s a bit of a joke. Listen, I’m not saying he shouldn’t get a license, just that, if he does, it’s a bit of a joke. He has never boxed.”
Prestonpans boxer Taylor, right, who will take on former world champion Miguel Vazquez at the Royal Highland Centre, on 11 November, has been granted the use of Hibernian’s training facilities but said he would not be so disrespectful to think that he could hang up his gloves and walk straight into the pro ranks of another sport.
“[Hibs manager] Neil Lennon has been brilliant with me. He’s said I can come down any time I want to use the facilities. It’s a great set up down there and it’s a big help to me. It’s only four miles down the road instead of wasting three hours out of my day coming into town and back.
“I reckon a few of the Hibs lads are pretty fit. I’m not sure about boxing but they definitely have stronger legs than me!
“But I wouldn’t mind switching positions. Football is much better paid and much easier!”
But, if Ferdinand is a late convert, Taylor’s next opponent says he has been a fighter since he was a baby.
“When I was born, my father saw my first and told my mum that I was going to be a world champion,” said Vazquez, the former IBF world lightweight champion, who said he has not given up hope of reclaiming a major title. “I was told by my father to be a boxer. It was after I had been doing it for a while that I started to like it.”