How Ray Edwards and the NFL Lockout Can Help Boxing Get Back to the Big Time

Tyler CurtisAnalyst IFebruary 15, 2011

MINNEAPOLIS - NOVEMBER 7: Defensive end Ray Edwards #91 of the Minnesota Vikings grabs the jersey of quarterback Derek Anderson #3 of the Arizona Cardinals at Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome on November 7, 2010 in Minneapolis, Minnesota.  The Vikings won 27-24 in overtime. (Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)
Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

I am one of the biggest football fans you will ever find, but I am also one of the biggest boxing fans you will ever find. A year without the NFL would be torture to many fans but it could be great for boxing fans.

Two things make me feel optimistic that a boxing network revival could happen without the NFL on Sundays. The first is there is a now an obvious gap of programming on Sundays.

The NFL is on CBS every Sunday and it just so happens that Bob Arum just inked a deal with CBS/Showtime to show boxing.

I would assume that CBS would want to replace sports with sports so that makes boxing the perfect fit. Arum has many of the top fighters in the world and could put on compelling cards for the networks.

Top Rank fighters currently include established stars like Steve Molitor, Joshua Clottey, Miguel Cotto, Nonito Donaire, Yuriorkis Gamboa and Juan Manuel Lopez just to name a few.

When you include up-and-comers like Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. (a big draw), Jose Benavidez, Miguel Garcia, Omar Henry and Vanes Martirosyan you can make many interesting cards.

He also has a lot of good mid-card/journeymen type of fighters that can fill out a card.

I wasn’t alive for either NFL strike that took place in 1982 and 1987, but according to a blog post by Chris Chase of Yahoo! Sports, the networks carried a lot of live boxing during the 1982 strike.

This is a sign that bodes well for boxing and Arum in particular. He was around when boxing was on the networks and has a chance to bring it back.

Rarely do things work out in boxing but it seems like the stars may be aligning for the networks (or at least CBS) to bring boxing back into the fold.

Although boxing doesn’t have the mainstream fan base it used to have it still isn’t a totally niche sport, is better than showing UFL or CFL football games and is better than showing something that isn’t sports.

The second thing that could make this happen is the fact that some football players will want to try their hand at boxing as some of them do boxing training to stay in shape in the offseason.

Ray Edwards is one football player who has already said he is strongly considering turning pro if the NFL does indeed strike.

Edwards is a 26 year old, 6’5” tall 268 pound defensive end for the Minnesota Vikings. He said that he has been training since September in anticipation of a lockout.

He also said he plans to fight in the beginning of April and will start his own promotional company. Now he won’t become a top tier heavyweight but he will bring more fans.

If he has some success he could convince other players to turn to boxing and bring in even more fans. If you’re an NFL fan you can’t watch him play football so why not watch your favorite player fight?

Many boxing purists would have problems with this but I am not one as long as it does not take away a sport from a legitimate fighter.

Opening a card with Edwards would be fine but not if it meant keeping someone like Matt Remillard off the card. The draw would be keeping your best fighters on the card while sneaking a football player on it.

There is a lot of ifs in this scenario, but it could be the perfect time for boxing to make a big time comeback, even if it is for a very short time while the NFL is gone.

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