Former Viking Edwards to fight in SuperiorRay Edwards, a former Minnesota Vikings defensive end, will be on a nine-bout boxing card on April 13 at Superior's Wessman Arena.
By: Jon Nowacki, Duluth News Tribune
Enter the name “Ray Edwards” on YouTube and the words “flop” and “phantom punch” immediately pop up after a video of Edwards’ “knockout” of Nick Capes on Feb. 9 went viral.
Duluth promoter R.J. “T-Rex” Laase vows that won’t happen on his boxing card on April 13 at Wessman Arena.
Laase recently got Edwards, a former Minnesota Vikings defensive end, to commit to his nine-bout card against a fighter to be named. Laase guarantees it will be a legitimate fighter and not a last-minute addition like Capes, who was suspended after taking a dive in the Feb. 9 bout in West Fargo, N.D.
The video is at 2 million hits and going strong.
“We want Ray to get a real test. We don’t want another Fargo incident happening,” Laase said. “I’m 100 percent confident we’ll be able to get a good fighter lined up, and we’re willing to pay a little extra for it. We still have plenty of time to find a quality guy.”
Dubbed the “War at Wessman,” this is the third fight for Laase’s T-Rex Promotions, but the first the 24-year-old Laase will not fight on.
“I want to see if this is something I want to do in the future, when I’m done fighting, and this will help me work out the kinks,” Laase said. “I also want to see the show I put together. The last two fights that I’ve put together, I’ve been in the locker room till the end of the night, so I didn’t get to see or enjoy any of it. This is my trial and error.
“Every show improvements can be made, whether it is about key matchups or intermission entertainment. I really need to sit back and watch what I like, what I don’t like and what I should change.”
Heavyweight Aaron “Gorilla” Green was going to headline the card but had to pull out due to injury.
Middleweight Rob Brant (6-0) of St. Paul fights Eric Marriott (3-3) of Independence, Mo., in the main event, while Duluth boxer Joe Lorenzi (1-5) fights Lexie Keshick (1-0) in the co-main event. That could change depending on who winds up fighting Edwards.
“If it came down to what happened in Fargo, I’d rather swallow my pride and let everyone know that Ray Edwards isn’t on the show due to matchmaking,” Laase said.
General admission and ringside tickets are still available at www.vitalculture.com for $10 and $40, respectively. VIP tables are already sold out.
Laase’s promotional debut occurred last April at Wessman and drew nearly 1,300 fans.
“The first one will be tough to top, but we’ve already got 800 to 900 tickets out the door,” Laase said. “Ray is a draw, especially for the $10 tickets. We expect a big boost from having him on there.”
Laase (11-1) has won seven straight fights, including a first-round TKO of James Wayka on March 15 at Grand Casino Hinckley. He attributed part of his success to training out of Uppercut Gym in Minneapolis. He plans on taking a vacation to Tennessee this month before resuming training in early May with his next fight hopefully in June — though serious boxers are never really off.
“I get to live a little bit,” Laase said, laughing. “I can actually have a beer and a few chicken wings. I get to be one of the guys again with my friends. I’m not the ornery, crabby, hungry fighter.”
Edwards (4-0), meanwhile, was also on the Hinckley card, dispatching of Van Goodman with a third-round TKO in an entertaining — and legit — bout.
“We want to help people forget Fargo,” said local matchmaker Todd Bechthold.
Edwards, 28, had 33 quarterback sacks in seven seasons in the NFL, including a career high 8½ with the Vikings in 2009. At 6-foot-5 and 260 pounds, he is a physical specimen but is still learning the sweet science.
“Ray is still green, but he showed at Hinckley that he can take some punches and weather the storm,” Laase said. “He showed boxing skill. He showed that he’s here and he’s for real.”