Ricky Hatton is fully behind Andrew Flintoff as the former England cricketer prepares to make his professional boxing debut at Manchester Arena tonight.

The 34-year-old will fight 23-year-old American Richard Dawson over four two-minute rounds in a heavyweight contest.

Flintoff, who weighed in almost two stone lighter than his opponent yesterday at 15 stone six pounds, has been training for four and a half months with former world champion Barry McGuigan and his son Shane.

Flintoff's change of sport has not been welcomed by everyone within boxing, but Hatton told Press Association Sport: "I've got massive respect for him.

"How many sports stars say, 'You know what, I could do cricket, I could do tennis, I could do football but boxing's one game I couldn't do?' Well Freddie's doing it and he deserves the utmost respect for doing it."

"I don't think the McGuigans would make a mockery of the sport" -Ricky Hatton

He added: "He's right there in the spotlight, talk about the pressure being on, but the one thing is, whether it be cricket or boxing, he's a professional, he's a professional person, and the way he's conducted himself, the way he's prepared for this, with the team behind him, I think it'll be a massive success."

Hatton refuted claims Flintoff is diminishing boxing with the fight, which comes a week after Hatton bowed out of the sport after defeat at Manchester Arena.

"He's got a passion for boxing, I don't think he'd make a mockery of the sport, I don't think the McGuigans would make a mockery of the sport," said Hatton.

"Freddie and the McGuigan team have gone into this totally with their eyes wide open. He deserves to pursue a passion just as much as anyone so let's get behind him and cheer him on and hope he does well."

Flintoff has lost almost three and a half stone in training for the fight, and Hatton added: "He punches as hard as he hits a cricket ball.

"He was in my gym this week and he looks really prepared. And it's not about whether he has one fight or 101 fights or whether he wins a title. He's giving something a go."