Ray Edwards is planning to start his second career tonight as he steps into the ring at Grand Casino Hinckley for his professional boxing debut.
While Edwards admitted there were some pre-fight butterflies, he said the objective in the ring isn't all that dissimilar to playing football.
"The thought coming in is to execute the game plan," Edwards said. "If I do what the coach told me to do, I think we will get the job done."
Asked if he was nervous heading into his first professional boxing match, Edwards said he wouldn't be intimidated by the crowd (which is clearly pro-Edwards), because he's performed on some of the biggest of stages. Going into the Horseshoe of Ohio State is a little more daunting than a casino ballroom.
"I've played in front of 100,000 (fans)," Edwards said. "I think this will be pretty much the same."
As expected, the questioning inevitably came back to football. Several of Edwards' teammates, including Kevin Williams, Pat Williams, Antoine Winfield, E.J. Henderson, Erin Henderson and Fred Evans were in attendance and, while he hadn't seen them prior to fight time, he said he was expecting them to be there for moral support.
"They said they were coming," Edwards said. "If they don't, the show must go on. I'm pretty sure they're coming. They bought their tickets. They got their tables. I don't think they're going to waste their money like that. There is a lockout."
Whether boxing is a passing fancy for Edwards or a true passion will likely be determined by the next month or so – he is scheduled to have another fight in June. But Edwards reiterated that he isn't planning to come back to the Vikings under his current contract, which is significantly less than backup Brian Robison.
He said he is unsure about the short-term future of his football career given the current lockout and the long-term future – due to questions about whether he will be an unrestricted free agent when the dust settles on the labor impasse. He said he's leaning toward a higher power that assured him that boxing is a good short-term career path.
"I don't live in an 'If' world, I live in the God world," Edwards said. "God said don't worry about the things I can't control. Worry about the things I can."
With a lot up in the air on whether Edwards resumes his career as a Viking, he said he is serious about his choice to start professional boxing and that, while he is understandably upset about not getting a long-term contract from the Vikings, he understands how the process works.
"It's a business," Edwards said. "I don't have any hard feelings. It's just a busiuess. It's just like your job. If somebody is paid 70 percent more than you, how would you feel?"
VU will update the fight round by round with a post-fight recap following the action.
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