Ray Edwards is the best heavyweight in the boxing game right now according to his trainer Jeff Warner. The former Viking and Atlanta Falcons defensive end won his second fight with a 49 second knockout of Corey Briggs, a now 0-4 big body from Duluth. How serious was Briggs to fight Edwards? The match maker brought his trunks, and a manager of another fighter brought the cup to protect his goods. Briggs didn't throw a punch and ended up taking a knee, refusing to get up after taking three shots to the body.
Two weeks later, Edwards was back in the ring against Nick Capes from Iowa. According to promoter Cory Rapacz, Edwards original opponent Mike Smith was a no-show at the Friday weigh-in and instead of pulling Edwards off the card he opted for Capes.
"We knew he was terrible as one of the fights was on YouTube," said Rapacz on Facebook. "It was obvious what we were getting. He had a federal ID and was over 200 pounds so we took him."
Capes drove from Iowa and according to Rapacz arrived in Fargo around midnight and weighed in the next morning. The fight was even worse than the Briggs fight and raised even more questions about the trek of the trainer dubbed "greatest". 13 seconds into the fight, Edwards who appeared to be twice the size of Capes throws a wild upper cut that looks to have missed his opponent by at least five feet. Capes pauses for a moment then acts like he was hit by a truck before lay motionless on the canvas and taking the ten-count. In the video you can hear fans saying ‘I don't even think he hit him'.
One big question mark:
Ask people who know him to search for a word to describe Jeff Warner and you'll probably get a wide variety. Honest most likely will not be one. The former pro-wrestler turned heavyweight professional boxer made his mark in the ring in the 1990's but not in a good way. Search Jeff Warner's record on Box Rec and you will find a fighter with a professional record of 23-2. On the surface, Warner had the whole package. He had the physique and the rap down. It wasn't a surprise that he had people believing that Minnesota could produce a world champion. He was a huge muscular figure that although his record indicated he was the real deal, he never stepped up in competition to prove it.
Warner lost to Bill Corrigan in his second career fight when he was knocked out in the first round. The heavyweight bout had haymaker written all over it as both Warner and Corrigan threw bombs with Corrigan ending the fight in the first round. The video has its fair share of questionable action and plays out more like a WWE bout than a true boxing match.
Warner fought multiple times against guys with alias names. Including a fighter named Bill Borea who BoxRec lists as Warner's opponent on four different occasions. His opponent in his fight March 1st, 1997 is blank. The original opponent was listed as Corrigan but Corrigan claims he did not fight Warner and that the opponent was an imposter fighting under his name.
Corrigan went on to train Warner later in his career as he believed the man he defeated could do great things.
"He could have been extremely successful from a branding and marketing aspect but just couldn't get him to step up to the next level of opponents," said Corrigan about Warner. "Not a great fighter, but a great athlete, fast, strong and built well."
Back when Warner was an active fighter, the commission that regulated and oversaw boxing in Minnesota as well as commissions in Nebraska and North Dakota were nothing like they are today. Fighters picked their opponents without much regulation and Warner's camp was no different. The fight game was in a different place and although his past is shaded the current commission although aware of the past allows Warner to be involved in the sport.
Warner's final fight as a pro came against Lorenzo Boyd who at the time was 29-47. Boyd knocked Warner out in the second round. Up until that time, the combined record of his opponents was 22-35 in 16 fights. It is perfectly normal for a promoter and team to build their fighter to work towards a bigger payday. There are thresholds where a fighter reaches and then will step up in competition. That step up never happened for Warner. From his 10th pro fight to the fight before Boyd, Warner fought guys who were a combined listed record of 1-12.
Back to Sugar Ray:
If Edwards is serious about his professional boxing career, Warner; his corner man isn't going to do him any favors. No one is accusing Ray of fixing fights, but the results of his last two outings aren't helping his cause as a serious professional fighter.
Warner was sentenced to three years' probation in 2012 as part of a steroid investigation for conspiracy to distribute and to possess with intent to distribute anabolic steroids which raises additional questions.
As Corrigan said about Warner, Edwards is marketable. He is freakishly big and athletic. Regardless of who he is matched with early in his career, Ray is going to be a physical mismatch.
"I'm trying to treat Ray like any other fighter who jumped into the pros with zero amateur experience," said Rapacz. "I can't control the claims his team makes. A lot of guys in Minnesota had terrible fights in their first four (probably not that bad though) and he'll have to step up soon if he wants to keep going."
He is slated to fight again in March in Hinckley and while an opponent has yet to be named, Minneapolis heavyweight Van Goodman along with John Moxey will both receive offers according to Rapacz.
"I will not turn the fight down," said Goodman on Facebook. "I will test his chin for sure, bring him to me."
Unlike Edwards last two opponents, Goodman will come to fight and will provide the best test to date and if successful will silence his critics at least temporarily. What seems evident is that there aren't a shortage of local heavyweights that are running from him which means fans who have witnessed they hype might actually get to witness if Edwards is the real deal.
Aaron Green played college basketball at North Dakota State University and is currently 10-0. Green and his camp wouldn't mind a piece of the former NFL defensive end.
"If Ray or Jeff believes they can compete with Aaron Green, we respectfully accept the challenge," said Green's trainer Pete Daszkiewicz. "We are ready to sign the contract."
Until Ray takes a step up, fans will look at his professional boxing experience much like his phantom punch that floored Capes, Edwards' career has missed the mark.