Norwich cult hero Leon McKenzie fires a warning shot at his boxing critics

Ex-Norwich City striker turned professional boxer Leon McKenzie is in tip top shape ahead of his Yor

Ex-Norwich City striker turned professional boxer Leon McKenzie is in tip top shape ahead of his York Hall fight debut. Picture by Alex Broadway/Focus Images Ltd - Credit: Alex Broadway/Focus Images Ltd

Norwich City cult hero Leon McKenzie has hit back at the critics who suggest his professional boxing debut tonight is a PR gimmick.

McKenzie is scheduled to face Czech journeyman Vladimir Fecko at the York Hall as he embarks on a second sporting career after spells for the Canaries, Coventry City and Crystal Palace.

The 35-year-old insists those drawing parallels with the likes of former cricketer Freddie Flintoff or rugby star Sonny Bill Williams, who have both fought in the ring, are wide of the mark.

'I do not have anything in common with Freddie Flintoff, Sonny Bill Williams or those other guys crossing into boxing from other sports,' he said. 'My story is different to theirs. I am from a family of champions, it's in my blood.

'This is a serious thing for me and I've prepared for this for months and months. When you see me in the ring, you're not going to think I have never fought before, and that's the difference between me and most of those guys.

'It can happen. People from other sports can cross over into boxing. You are always going to get people trying it, getting negative publicity and thinking 'Oh well' and giving up because it has not gone how they expected it to go. Things like that should not stop guys who are serious about becoming boxers from getting into the sport.

'That would be stupid. I hope, eventually, people will look at me and think 'There's Leon McKenzie, the boxer' rather than 'There's Leon McKenzie, the ex-footballer'. I think that will come over time.'

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McKenzie is confident he will have too much for Fecko, who has lost 58 of his 67 professional bouts.

'Training has gone to plan and I'm in really good shape,' he said. 'The best shape of my life, to be honest.

It is important to get the rounds in, but it depends on how the fight goes and also my opponent. No disrespect to him, but if I get a chance to knock him out I will take it and of course he will be trying to do the same. Whether the fight goes one, two or four rounds, I am going to win.

'The main thing for me is to get that first fight out of the way, get the experience under my belt and then hopefully step up in class a little.

'After my debut is out of the way, we will be straight back to training and looking to kick on.'