Ray Edwards to fight on May 20

With the lockout dragging on, Minnesota Vikings defensive end Ray Edwards is set to make his professional boxing debut at a Minnesota casino.

Edwards told the Star Tribune that he has signed a two-fight contract. His professional debut is set for May 20 in a four-round bout against a yet-to-be-determined opponent.

"It's something I've always wanted to do in my life," Edwards told the newspaper. "I can't put my eggs all in one basket, waiting for the NFL to settle the lockout. You never know when this lockout is going to end."

The Star Tribune reported that Edwards is guaranteed $5,000 from the fight plus 50 percent of the gate proceeds for the fight at Grand Casino Hinckley. If the lockout continues into June, his second fight will take place that month under the same terms, the newspaper reported.

Edwards' trainer is Jeff Warner, a former heavyweight boxer and pro wrestler. Warner predicts big things for Edwards.

"A lot of football players, like Ed 'Too Tall' Jones, have tried to cross over -- and they've all gotten knocked out," Warner told ESPN Mobile last month. (Warner is mistaken on Jones: the former Dallas Cowboys defensive end actually won all of his six fights before retiring from the ring and returning to the NFL in 1980). "Ray will be the first to come from pro football as a starter and destroy the heavyweight division. Ray is a phenom. He's a modern-day Muhammad Ali and Mike Tyson combined."He's the greatest conditioned heavyweight ever and he'll knock out any fighter in the world. No one looks like Ray, no one moves like Ray and no one works like Ray."

In an appearance on "ESPN First Take" last month, Hall of Fame boxing trainer Emanuel Steward also praised Edwards, saying he has exceptional speed "for such a big man" and made the point that the heavyweight level has been wide open for some time.

"There's hardly any talent [there]," Steward said of the heavyweight division. "I actually don't see that much coming up even in the amateur program. ... Ray, because of his size and his agility, could catch on and move to the top quickly. Heavyweights can do that. There is not that much competition."

Edwards, who is 6-foot-5 and listed at 268 pounds, said on "ESPN First Take" in February that he has "fun beating people up." He bragged that he has "pretty much won" all of the sparring sessions he's taken part in, and said of his potential boxing career: "I can be the greatest that ever did it."

The 26-year-old Edwards is unsigned for the 2011 NFL season but said he isn't worried about suffering an injury in the ring. He has incorporated boxing in his training regimen for the past four years.

"I don't feel nobody is going to get close to me," he said.

Edwards is the second NFL player to take up boxing during the lockout. Baltimore Ravens safety Tom Zbikowski also is boxing and has won his first two fights during the NFL's work stoppage. His next bout is scheduled for April 23.

Information from ESPN NFC North blogger Kevin Seifert was used in this report.