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3:45 p.m. Eastern
ESPN’s Eric Woodyard
When Deron Williams’ boxing bout versus former NFL running back Frank Gore was announced last week, his phone was inundated with calls and alerts.
Chris Paul of the Phoenix Suns was one of the first to contact out. In his peak, Williams battled Paul for the title of NBA’s best point guard, but the rivals-turned-friends are now supportive.
Paul is still competing at a high level at the age of 36, presently leading the league in steals and assists. Williams, 37, has been retired for a long time and is seeking for a way to satisfy his longtime desire to fight. On Saturday, December 18, he will make his professional boxing debut.
“It’s rather remarkable,” Williams remarked of Paul’s performance. “I’m a bit envious that he’s still doing his thing. I just just spoke with him last week. He phoned me as soon as the battle was announced. He attempted to attend the fight but was unable to get front-row seats. ‘If CP3 can’t get front row seats, that implies they’re selling like hotcakes,’ I remarked.”
So, what is Williams’ motivation for joining the ring? Especially after seeing former NBA guard Nate Robinson be knocked out in the second round by YouTube phenom Jake Paul on the undercard of Mike Tyson vs. Roy Jones Jr. in 2020. What distinguishes him from the rest?
“I sat and watched it. Nate Robinson isn’t me. I believe I have a little advantage over Nate in terms of experience. For the last 8-10 years, I’ve been training in stand-up comedy and boxing “Williams stated his opinion. “I’ve sparred against high-level UFC fighters that are larger than me, my size, and smaller than me, so I believe I’m more prepared for that battle than Nate was. And I don’t believe anybody appreciated Jake Paul as a boxer at the time, but things have definitely changed.”
Williams is a co-owner of the Fortis MMA facility in Dallas, which is well-known. He also wrestled as a youngster and began preparing for an MMA exhibition match before the COVID-19 epidemic, so he sees this as an opportunity he can’t pass up against Gore, who ranks third all-time in NFL rushing.
“I’ve always been the underdog. I grew up in a one-bedroom apartment with 12 other people and conquered it, so I’m OK with it “Gore, a five-time Pro Bowl running back, expressed it best. “I was a long shot when I blew up my knees and was told I wouldn’t make it to the NFL. That was something I was able to overcome. They predicted I’d only be in the NFL for three years, but 16 years later, I’m third all-time in rushing in the NFL, so hearing the word ‘underdog’ doesn’t bother me. That is what fuels my motivation in life now.”
During a press conference at the Edison Ballroom in New York City on Tuesday, the former professional athletes squared off. They’ll fight on the undercard of Paul vs. Tommy Fury at Amalie Arena in Tampa, Florida, in a four-round professional battle with a 215-pound limit.
Williams, who is 6-foot-3, has an obvious height advantage against Gore, who measures 5-9. As they acquired a taste for fighting, the notion of fighting has been on the back of both of their minds for some time. They both argue that money isn’t the driving force behind their actions.
“It’s a good thing I’m not like everyone else. I’m created in a unique way “Williams stated his opinion. “Most individuals are afraid of something and don’t do it because they are afraid of it. I’m the polar opposite. I like confronting my concerns and approaching life in this manner. Although I am afraid of sharks, I like swimming with them. I’m not sure. So there you have it.”
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