Too Tall wasn't too skilled away from his area of expertise. He thought because he was big and bad he could rule the ring. The ring brought him down a peg. Same will go for Edwards, we're guessing.Alright, it's no secret that almost every man on the planet at one time or another has been involved in a fist-fight/street fight. Most guys did their share of brawling as middle-schoolers up through the time they graduated college or say age 23 or 24. It's funny how many guys look at pro fighters and say boxing, or MMA for that matter, isn't street fighting. And they say it like they're making a point. Really, boxing/MMA aren't street fighting? Of course they're not. They're combat sports with rules. What's funny is, a lot of boxers were led to boxing because they were good street fighters, and I'm sure that pertains to MMA as well.
Most professional athletes realize that they can't compete at the highest level in a different sport. You'll never hear Baltimore Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis even joke that he could cover Kobe Bryant in the open court. And you'd never hear Kobe Bryant say even on a bet that he could block Ray Lewis at the line of scrimmage. Yet for some reason there are some football, basketball and hockey players who think because they won a few street fights, they can go into boxing and have success. However, you never hear heavyweight fighters say they could be a starting power forward in the NBA or a starting linebacker in the NFL.
It was recently reported in the St. Paul Pioneer-Press that if the NFL imposes a lockout on players during the collective bargaining agreement (CBA) negotiations, Minnesota Vikings defensive end Ray Edwards says he will look to become a professional boxer and probably fight in April. Edwards has never actually fought in the ring, but says he's used a boxer's type workout to stay in shape and improve his hand usage to shed blocks. Which is night and day different than trying to deliver punches or shed them.
Edwards, 26, stands 6-5 and weighs 268 pounds. His size and bulk would, in actuality, be a drag on his in-the-ring effectiveness. He obviously believes that because he can perhaps make the focus mitts crack when he strikes them, he must be the next Earnie Shavers disguised as an NFL defensive end. It's almost mind boggling how some football players and body builders who never set foot into a ring foolishly think because they're big and have football or weight lifting strength, that they're a potential life taker in the manner of Sonny Liston and George Foreman. I guess if Edwards isn't dreaming of being anything but a novelty act, it's not the worst thing he can do. However, the potential is there for him to get chin-checked and embarrassed.
Only one former NFL player transitioned from football to professional boxing and had moderate success. That was Charlie Powell, who fought Muhammad Ali and finished with a career record of 25-11-3 (17). Powell played in the NFL for nine years and was a defensive lineman for the San Francisco 49ers and Oakland Raiders. Powell also fought and lost to Mike DeJohn and Floyd Patterson.
I guess Alonzo Highsmith would be next in terms of marginal success. And he fought as an amateur for a while before he was recruited by the Nebraska Cornhuskers. And he was much better proportioned physically to be a boxer than Ray Edwards, standing 6-1 and usually weighing between 225-235 pounds. Highsmith retired from boxing after four years with an impressive career record of 27-1-2 (23). Incidentally, the fighter with the most impressive record that he fought was former New York Jets defensive end Mark Gastineau, who was 15-1 when Highsmith TKO'd him 20 seconds into the second round. Two years after beating Gastineau (whose boxing career was nothing but a sideshow), Highsmith was stopped in his second to last fight by Terry Verners 7-20-2 (5).
Who can forget Dallas Cowboys defensive end, Ed “Too Tall” Jones' excursion into the ring? Remember when he said he was going to knock out reigning heavyweight champ Larry Holmes a week before he made his pro-debut in 1979 versus Abraham “Jaqui” Meneses, all 5-6 of him? And “Too Tall” needed a standing 30 count against Meneses in the last round just so he could survive the round and win a decision. Jones smartly retired undefeated after six fights and went back to the NFL and played better than he ever had before.
The fact of the matter is, football, body building and wrestling strength doesn't translate into ring strength. Just as boxing strength doesn't translate into football or body building strength. Boxers salivate when football players and body builders or power lifters wander into the gym with the mindset they can handle boxers. In my experience, they usually tried to get in the ring with the fighters their size who didn't have an imposing physique. And then they get their clocked cleaned by a guy who wasn't even leaning on his punches or trying to show him up.
Boxing, and other combat sports take years to master. Just because you're a big NFL lineman doesn't mean you can punch or take a punch. History is replete with former NFL and NBA players trying to become serious boxers in their mid to late twenties. And recently only Alonzo Highsmith managed to achieve moderate success, and he boxed before he was a big time college or NFL player. Not to mention a majority of his fights looked like setups. In other words, fighters were possibly paid to come in and make him look good. I say Ray Edwards should heed the advice that Wilt Chamberlain's father gave him when he was going be trained by Cus D'Amato to challenge Muhammad Ali back in 1967. It went something like, you'd be best served working on your foul shots than fighting Ali. And smartly Wilt changed his mind and didn't sign the contract to face Muhammad.
As far as the case pertaining to Ray Edwards, it's plausible that if there's a work stoppage in the NFL this coming season, it'll be short lived. Therefore, he would be best served working on his stunts and bull rushes, they'll come in handy when the strike is settled by October 2011 at the latest.
Frank Lotierzo can be contacted at GlovedFist@Gmail.com