Braidwood hooked

MURRAY GREIG, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 10:52 AM ET

When a testosterone-fuelled male ego is encased in a perfectly sculpted body and controlled by a brain that's hard-wired for extreme competition, it's only natural to be drawn to the fight game.

What's not so natural is for any of these wannabe warriors to have enough skill and smarts to pull it off.

Indeed, pro boxing's graveyard is littered with the carcasses of enough ex-football players, 'rasslers and MMA poseurs to sink a ship: Mark Gastineau, Alonzo Highsmith, Lyle Alzado, William (The Refrigerator) Perry, Glen Kulka and Marcus Jones, to name just a few.

So why does Edmonton Eskimos defensive end Adam Braidwood think he'll be any different when he makes his punch-for-pay debut against Calgary's Devon Garnan in the featured prelim on KO Boxing's six-bout Back to Business card on Jan. 24 at the Shaw Conference Centre?

"I know about all those guys, so that's a good question," the six-foot-four, 270-pound Braidwood joked yesterday."I guess the biggest difference is they were mostly at or near the end of their other careers when they turned to boxing. With me, it's the opposite. I'm still young (24) and my body hasn't taken a lot of punishment. It's been an easy transition from training for football to training for the ring."

Braidwood got hooked on boxing while growing up in Delta, B.C. While he had no formal ring coaching as a kid, he more than made up for it after high school. "I was always kind of into martial arts in general, so I hung around the local gym and watched and learned," he said.

"The first time I saw Mike Tyson fight, I fell in love with boxing. It was just such a spectacle, so much hype around it, and I wanted to try it. Who doesn't fantasize about being the heavyweight champion of the world, the toughest guy on the planet? I couldn't wait to put on the gloves.

"Because I was so involved with football I wasn't able to join an amateur boxing club, but I worked at it whenever I could. Then in my first year of college at Washington State, when it seemed I was spending half my life in the gym, I was able to add a few more things to my football training that really became useful for boxing, too."

During his four years at Washington State, Braidwood twice won the school's strongest man competition, and in 2004 he was co-winner of defensive lineman of the year honours. In 48 games with the Cougars, he recorded 90 defensive tackles and 13.5 sacks. Passed over by the NFL, he was taken No. 1 overall by the Eskimos in the 2006 CFL college draft.

Braidwood sat out the entire 2008 CFL season with a knee injury, but doesn't anticipate any lingering effects when he climbs through the ropes on Jan. 24.

"The knee feels great; I actually thought I could have played the last half of the season," he said. "I took a couple of weeks off from training after our last game, then got right back into it because I knew I wanted this fight.

"I've been working steady with (trainer) Milan (Lubovac) and (WBC super featherweight champ) Jelena (Mrdjenovich), and they set a real good training pace.

"There's not so much pressure on the knee in boxing as there is in football, but I wanted to make sure my mobility was where it should be. So far, so good."

Braidwood, who has one MMA victory under his belt (KO 1 over Ryan Jimmo in Feb. 2007), said he hopes to continue to box as long as it doesn't interfere with football.

"I'm going into the last year of my contract, and I feel I owe a lot to this city and to the Eskimos - I still have something to prove," he said. "Obviously, football is my No. 1 priority, but I want to keep my options open in both MMA and boxing. For now, boxing is what I'm focusing on.

"One thing I always hear from retired guys is to seize every opportunity that comes along, because you might not get another chance to do it. I didn't want to wake up one day when I'm 40 or 50 years old and kick myself for never having tried boxing.

"We'll see how it goes, but I'm hopeful that this fight on Jan. 24 will be the start of something good."


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