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Edwards floors foe twice en route to victory in boxing debut

Vikings defensive end Ray Edwards began his boxing career on the plus side, scoring a unanimous if uninspiring victory Friday night in a four-round heavyweight bout in Hinckley, Minn.

Edwards, who has said he'll leave the Vikings if he's an unrestricted free agent when the NFL's labor situation is solved and pursue boxing if he isn't, knocked down T.J. Gibson in the first and fourth rounds en route to the victory before a near-capacity crowd at Grand Casino.

Edwards won on the judges' cards 40-34, 39-35 and 40-34, as several of his Vikings teammates cheered him.

"I've got some things to work on," Edwards told the *St. Paul Pioneer Press*. "But, overall, I think I did well."

Trainer Jeff Warner called Edwards' jab "incredible" and said observers saw "about 70 percent of Ray Edwards. People don't understand a first pro fight, there are so many different emotions. We're done with it, now we move on."

Vikings linebacker Jasper Brinkley told the Pioneer Press that he was impressed by Edwards' work.

"It's kind of weird seeing a teammate up there," Brinkley said. "But I thought he did really well."

Edwards, who's 6-foot-5 and 258½ pounds, had 36½ pounds and seven inches on Gibson, who also was making his debut. Edwards was happy to win but admitted it was "a little rougher than I expected."

"Every time I tried to get underneath him, I got held down and couldn't do what I wanted to do," Gibson said. "He's going to be a great fighter if he keeps it up."

Edwards put Gibson down in the first round with a left-right combo that sent the smaller man into the ropes. After the second and third rounds brought a lot less action, Edwards almost knocked Gibson through the ropes in the fourth with a left hook.

No Vikings coaches or team officials attended the fight, which was fine by Edwards, who will box again June 24 in Hinckley against a to-be-determined opponent.

"It is what it is," he said. "It's a business, no hard feelings. I still speak to them when I can. Whenever the lockout's over, I'll still have a good relationship with them. They helped me start my career that I dreamed about since I was a little boy."

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