Minnesota Vikings defensive end Ray Edwards is one of several NFL players at least toying with the idea of boxing during the lockout, but Edwards appears to be a bit more serious about it than some. Not only did he win his first professional fight on Friday — a unanimous decision over T.J. Gibson at the Grand Casino in Hinckley, Minn. — Edwards also received real praise from some people who would know. Gibson, a former kickboxer from Duluth, Minn., said that Edwards is "going to be a great fighter if he keeps it up.".
And according to Viking Update, fight referee Joe Cortez — a man who has officiated some of the biggest fights in recent memory — says that Edwards should keep it up and has a bright future in boxing if he wants it.
"For a first outing, I was pretty impressed," Cortez said. "Most boxers get their start when they're teenagers, not when they're in their mid 20s. They also don't typically start off against someone with the kind of experience (Gibson) had. He had a lot of ring experience, not in boxing, but in mixed martial arts and kickboxing. He may have thought he was going to just put him away, but that's difficult to do with someone with ring experience … In many ways he reminds me of the [Wladimir and Vitali] Kilitschko brothers. He is a big man who is very muscular. He has the ability to impose his will on people."
Edwards wasn't all that impressive from a technical perspective from all accounts, but his strength and height advantage served him well — at 6-foot-5, he towered over the 5-foot-9 Gibson. Edwards recorded two knockdowns in a fight attended by several Vikings teammates, including defensive tackle Pat Williams, linebacker E.J. Henderson, cornerback Antoine Winfield, and quarterback Tarvaris Jackson. Edwards is a free agent under the NFL's most recent rules, and has said that he has no intention of returning to the team that selected him in the fourth round of the 2006 draft. That would be bad news for a Vikings team that is watching the rest of its formerly dominant front four (including Williams) start to jump the shark.
Edwards next plans to fight on June 24 (opponent to be determined), and there are rumors that the Kimbo Slice camp has issued a challenge. "If they want to call me, give me a holler, we'll sit down and the bottom line is you put some numbers together we'll do it," said Jeff Warner, Edwards 'trainer, who also said that his boxer fought at about 75 percent of his potential and will be getting back to work on Monday.
Sounds like something Edwards enjoys, and there's nobody to tell him not to do it during the lockout. If boxing was good enough as an offseason activity for former defensive linemen Lyle Alzado and Ed "Too Tall" Jones, why not Edwards as well?
- Ray Edwards