Jake Paul and Tyron Woodley take center stage Saturday evening on a Showtime PPV card, but the undercard features an intriguing bout as well. Future NFL Hall of Famer Frank Gore and former NBA star Deron Williams are scheduled to fight a four-round exhibition bout in Tampa, Florida. The main card gets going at 9 p.m. ET and Gore and Williams will likely hit the ring near 10 p.m.
Neither athlete has fought an exhibition or pro fight to date. It seems like both are fine from a financial perspective, so that leaves some wondering why they decided to fight. Paul-Woodley brings a circus atmosphere, but Gore and Williams have kept things civil and professional in their media appearances.
It’s possible there is plenty of financial motivation, but it’s worth noting both view themselves as serious athletes who appreciate the finer points of combat sports. Williams co-owns Fortis MMA in Dallas and has trained in MMA and boxing throughout his career. Gore has used boxing as part of his workouts for going on a decade now. Reports first came out in September that he was training to start a boxing career if he can’t get back into the NFL.
There’s a big difference between training in the gym and actually hitting the ring for an organized bout. And these are two decidedly different athletes facing off. Williams is 6’3, 211 pounds, and has a reach of 78 inches. Gore is 5’9, 209 pounds and has a reach of 69 inches. While Gore is decidedly smaller, he’s dealt with more physical punishment as a running back compared to Williams’ time in the NBA. That’s not to say Williams didn’t deal with physicality on the court, but it’s clearly different than on the football field.
When it comes to celebrity boxing, it’s easy to just assume it’s about money or ego. In this case, Gore vs. Williams seems like the kind of bout two professional athletes take up as a different kind of challenge. Nothing in either player’s career indicates they would take this anything less than completely serious. They’re new to the ring, but ideally this means we get to see a fun, competitive boxing match.