Ray Edwards Makes Boxing Debut Tonight!
Unfortunately for boxing fans, those two are also in the NFL, but with football owners and players still at a labor impasse, Minnesota Vikings defensive end Ray Edwards begins his quest today to find out how good of a boxer he can be when he fights T.J. Gibson tonight at Grand Casino in Hinckley, Minn., in the professional boxing debut for both. The heavyweight bout is scheduled for four rounds.
At first glance, Gibson, a native of the Bahamas who lives in Hibbing and fights out of Lorenzi’s Boxing in Duluth, appears to be a huge underdog, another fluff opponent cherry picked to pad the newbie’s record while giving him some real-fight experience.
It’s a modern David vs. Goliath, but at least David had rocks to sling.
“I don’t mind those comparisons at all,” Gibson said. “I look at it like I’ve got nothing to lose.”
Other than his senses.
Thursday was the weigh-in, where the two boxers did the customary stare down for the cameras.
“It was more like a stare up,” Gibson said.
Edwards is 6-foot-5 and 260 pounds, with forearms like steel cables and muscles like overfilled balloons. Gibson is 5-9 and 220. The open-ended heavyweight boxing division lends itself to this type of apparent mismatch, but Gibson is relishing the challenge of the much ballyhooed fight as Edwards’ transformation from clubbing quarterbacks to cleaning the canvas has drawn national attention on ESPN and elsewhere.
Gibson was asked who was expecting him to win.
“Everybody who knows me as a fighter,” Gibson said. “People who don’t know me won’t give me the chance, but anybody who knows me knows the heart I have and what I put into the game. To me, it’s just about two men in the ring, and he wants to win and I want to win. We’re going to get together, and may the best man win. It really
doesn’t matter to me how tall he is or what physique he’s got. It’s just a fight.”
Gibson has lived in the U.S. about 10 years and was married to a woman with ties to northern Minnesota. Once here, he found that he actually liked the cold weather. He has trained out of Lorenzi’s for about a year.
Gibson has a kickboxing background and was a former amateur champion. His overall record is about 20-3, with a pro kickboxing record of 5-1.
“I’m no stranger to being in the ring, so I’ve got some edge, too,” Gibson said. “He’s tall, but I’m like a gorilla with long reach. And in tenacity, I’m like a grizzly bear. I’m a straight-out beast.”
The Beast of the Bahamas.
Edwards has prepared for his debut by sparring against the likes of up-and-coming Duluth boxer Ryan Watson, who said Edwards has the athleticism you expect of an NFL player and incredible power for shrugging off smaller opponents who try to work the inside — “chop the tree down” as Gibson called it.
The question is whether Edwards has the jaw for it.
Sugar, the boxing historian, speculated on what might have been had more NFL heavyweights taken to the ring instead of the gridiron. Tonight, we’ll start finding out.
MNVikingsBlog.com Analysis: I use to be a fan of Edwards but after him continuously complaining about his salary and yesterdays remarks regarding never playing for the Vikings again, I personally won’t mind his opponent using him as a punching bag. It’s really too bad they will set him up against an opponent he has a 5% chance of losing too.