Betfair has announced their latest promotional campaign featuring former professional football star Rio Ferdinand's journey to becoming a professional boxer. Considered one of the top defenders in the EPL during his tenure, the project is aptly named 'Defender to Contender.' Read on for more on Betfair's latest project!
Athletes spend their lives training, honing themselves to be the very best at their chosen sport. It's very rare to see professionals switch careers, but as Conor McGregor's recent bout with Mayweather shows, it can be fascinating for the fans and lucrative for the bookmakers. Betfair is no stranger to the idea of switching sports.
Its 2016 series 'Switching Saddles' saw the two-time Olympic champion Victoria Pendleton swap her cycle for a horse. She went on to compete in the Cheltenham Festival Foxhunter Chase. The whole challenge was a great success – one that Betfair aims to build on with its even more ambitious 'Defender to Contender' Project.
The premise is a simple one – Rio Ferdinand will train with some of the best boxing coaches in the world and try his hands (or gloves) at professional boxing. The aim will be for Rio to compete for either a regional or English boxing belt, although there have been no further details at this time. Simple in theory, perhaps.
The real challenge for Rio will be learning the careful techniques required by boxing, as well as maintaining the rigorous training regime to keep his fitness level where it needs to be. This is one of the reasons Rio Ferdinand was approached in the first place, however. According to their site, they asked Ferdinand to get involved:
"Rio is a world-class sportsman and is driven by success. Post retirement, health and fitness has been a big focus for him, including boxing. He stood out as one of the very few people who could undertake such a challenge. He embodies the Betfair brand with his restless and pioneering desire to succeed."
It's certainly true that Rio is a driven and capable athlete. He made his debut with West Ham United's senior team in 1996, before moving on to play for some of the largest and most prestigious clubs in the EPL, including Leeds, QPR, and Man United.
With 81 caps to his name, he's also one of the most-capped players in the history of the English international squad. Ferdinand is no stranger to the importance of technique. He has often been noted as one of the more technical players to grace the grounds, and pundits still see him as one of the best defenders of his time.
The ex-footballer has courted his fair share of controversy as well, often being outspoken on social media as well as having received a number of drink-driving bans. He's also familiar with gambling. In 2015, Ferdinand agreed to be the face for Casino Floor, which some criticised, claiming it gave the impression he endorsed gambling.
One thing is certain, however – when it comes to sheer professional ability and devotion to challenge, Rio Ferdinand is someone who delivers. Not only that, but his experience as a media personality, whether controversial or not, is certain to be an asset to the project.
While the sporting side of the project is without doubt an intriguing one, Betfair does of course have other motives. While the idea of sharing the journey of a professional boxer from their humble beginnings to a title fight is certainly fascinating for fans, it's also a huge and very efficient way to market a single fight.
Again, this is nothing new, and can in fact be seen in practice quite clearly in other specials betting. Reality shows are essentially the same format. When the winner does finally release a single and album, they benefit from months of prime-time marketing, social media exposure, and training from industry professionals.
All of these drive sales, and that makes the whole process a highly profitable undertaking for the programme's owners. The fact is that watching someone undertake a challenge, especially in the case of Betfair's new project, is irresistible to most of us – even more so for sports fans, and that's an extra bonus for Betfair and Rio.
Both soccer and boxing fans are going to want to see if he really can make the cut, and even more so, whether he can win a title with so little time to train. Even if viewed cynically as a pure money-making project, it's hard to deny the appeal, ambition and almost guaranteed success of this venture!
To follow along with the developments of the project as well as to see all the latest odds for football AND boxing, simply head over to Bet365's topnotch bookmaker today and receive a generous welcome bonus for signing up for the first time!