IT’S no surprise that Rio Ferdinand has been hammered after announcing that he wants to box professionally.

Had it been a retired 38-year-old League One footballer who decided to try for a British Boxing Board of Control licence, not a peep would be heard.

The fury thrown at Ferdinand is evidence of the inverted snobbery boxing and other sports suffer when trolls and critics queue to take pot shots at a household name who attempt something different.

His sponsors ‘Defender to Contender’ banner does stretch it too far despite aspirations of becoming English cruiserweight champion.

Rio will be past his 39th birthday when he boxes, with what will become a highly anticipated debut almost certainly in the first quarter of 2018, BBBC licence permitting.

Providing he passes medicals I don’t expect his application to fail. There are more than a few current active professionals who must been borderline when they were handed a passport to box.

Although I have no issue with Ferdinand turning professional it’s hard to envisage him getting anywhere near a professional title unless it’s manufactured.

There are 62 British cruiserweights ranked on Boxrec. A sprinkling are at the top and no more than 20 of those remaining stand a chance of even making it at area level.

Curtis Woodhouse and Leon McKenzie are footballers who made successful boxing switches, but they are totally different cases to Ferdinand.

Woodhouse incredibly became British champion, but turned professional aged 26, football quickly took a back seat and it still took more than eight years and six defeats to fulfil his dream.

Ferdinand won’t be chasing a title after six losses, that’s a promise. Odds-on, one loss and retirement.

McKenzie turned professional six weeks after his 35th birthday, but comes from a famous fighting family. He has been around boxing gyms all his life and would’ve boxed earlier but for his goalscoring prowess.

Ferdinand will respect our sport and every professional boxer he meets from world champions to a 0-40 journeyman.

In almost 20 years playing professional football for West Ham, Bournemouth, Leeds United, Manchester United, QPR and England he never took any rival team lightly.

There was occasional controversy, but the former defender was a consummate professional and always on hand to help younger players at his clubs.

The hard work starts now under Richie Woodhall as he strives to develop his boxing and earn a licence to get in the ring and fight for a living.

My big hope is that it’s renowned British trial horses he fights as he chases an unlikely dream, and not a bellyful of bums from Budapest.

As Boxing Matters contributor, John Evans tweeted: “Hopefully at the end of it all, somebody like Mitch Mitchell or Sonny Whiting earns 5k instead of £1200.”

Ferdinand doesn’t need the money. Plenty of British boxers whose job is to pad out ticket sellers records do.

Remember that Rio, but fair play for giving the toughest sport of all a crack.

BILLY JOE SAUNDERS was vocal in his belief that Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez might have been overcooked weeks before the Mexican’s controversial draw.

Saunders mentioned back-to-back camps and the mental exhaustion his win against Julio Cesar Chavez Jr might have taken from him, given national pride was at stake.

Although Alvarez showed he is a brilliant operator against GGG, it was worrying that for much of the contest he couldn’t fight non-stop for three minutes.

That’s not a defence for getting the draw many thought he was lucky to get, but Billy Joe’s belief could have more than a bit of truth.

SYMPATHY for Billy Joe Saunders because Willie Monroe Jr talked the talk, but judging by the fight, he saved walking the walk for the stroll to the bank where he would cash his pay cheque.

Monroe Jr was abject at the Copper Box Arena on Saturday, but at least Saunders can look ahead and finally get the big fight he has been begging for.

With GGG v Canelo II looking at least 12 months away, Golovkin might be lured with facing the WBO champion given the incentive of owning all four major world belts.

Saunders has also hinted at dropping to 154lb and a Battle of Britain against Amir Khan, a fight that would appeal to plenty.

Khan says his next fight will be in December and although an American date seems likely he hasn’t ruled out his first UK fight in more than four and a half years.

I’m sure Frank Warren is up for making that Christmas cracker.