Ray Edwards is one of the more interesting prospects in the heavyweight division. His path to becoming a professional is not the traditional one.
A former NFL star who spent 7 years in the league, Edwards found a second career in boxing and so far, has found a successful start, unbeaten in his first 13 fights as a professional. His most recent fight was a dominant win against Dan Pasciolla on September 15 and was another example of the former football player’s talents.
“It’s another stepping stone in my career,” Edwards told Fightful.com in an exclusive interview. “It was a great win against a tough, durable guy with a winning record and a lefty. Those guys are pretty hard to beat sometimes because they are so unorthodox. I don’t know where the punches are coming from. It was a great test and now it’s time to move on to the next one.”
Edwards said that despite being in the spotlight for years, he still feels jitters heading into a competition. Once he gets into a rhythm in the ring, he is focused and determined.
“I’m always nervous going into a fight,” Edwards said. “That’s just the way I am. It’s been like this ever since before I was playing football. Once you get into a groove, you settle down. I pretty much had tunnel vision after a while.”
A big heavyweight, Edwards says that he uses the jab a lot and understands how vital utilizing it is for the sport. Edwards says uses the jab to create 2-3 punch combinations with an improving right hook and uppercut.
“The jab is the most important punch in boxing, at the end of the day,” Edwards said. “You find your range and if you can’t touch your opponent with a jab, you can’t touch him with anything else. I use my jab to set everything up. I need to use it more and my coach talked about it, but it’s definitely something I work on every day.”
Edwards spent 7 seasons in the NFL, playing for the Minnesota Vikings and Atlanta Falcons. The 31-year-old took boxing more seriously during the NFL lockout in 2011 and Edwards saw himself turning to boxing as a pro, as there was no guarantee the lockout would end soon.
“Everybody thought I picked up the sport four years ago, but actually I picked up boxing when I was 22 after my rookie season because boxing is always something that is near and dear to my heart," Edwards said. "So I boxed a lot during the offseason. I picked it up seriously during the lockout because I didn’t know what the lockout was coming to be, whether it was going to be six months, a year, two years, you never know with lockout things. It was always a passion of mine and it was near and dear to my heart. I’ve always been training hard for it and I’ve always studied the game and tried to learn as much as I can.”
Even though football and boxing are two very different sports, Edwards did not find it hard to transition from one professional sport to the other, except for the sport's organizational structure.
“The only transition has been the organization of the whole thing, the structure," Edwards said. "In every state, there’s a different set of rules and then not every promoter is the same so it’s not the same structure as going into the NFL because the NFL is a union and everybody’s got a certain set of rules. There’s a set of rules in boxing towards the boxer in how to get paid, how to get moved and different things going on in different aspects. There’s teams you work with and have the best interest in you in hand.”
The 31-year-old's professional career is only just getting started, according to him. As of now, Edwards' next fight isn't scheduled.