Former professional athletes getting into boxing has become a popular venture in recent years, albeit one that can sometimes end in disaster, as Nate Robinson learned the hard way.
Still, many get into boxing or martial arts as a way to stay active after their careers end and their natural competitive desire leads them to wanting to try their hand at an actual fight. Deron Williams and Frank Gore will be the two latest former stars from the world of basketball and football who will try their hand at the sweet science in December, when the two meet on the undercard for the Jake Paul vs. Tommy Fury main event on Showtime PPV on December 18 in Tampa.
Williams owns an MMA gym and has been practicing mixed martial arts for some time, but will now look to show off the hands in the ring with Gore. The two issued statements in an official release when the bout was announced on Tuesday.
“Combat sports have been a part of my life since my youngest days. Before I was a basketball player, I was a wrestler,” said Williams. “Since 2015, I have had the privilege of owning an MMA gym, and through that I have trained in various martial arts to stay active. Over the last year, I’ve been waiting for the right opportunity to translate my training into a professional debut. I’m making that happen on December 18 against Frank, one of the physically strongest NFL players in history.”
“I’m excited to be fighting on this card and can’t wait to show the world what I’ve been working on,” said Gore. “Boxing has me excited, and on December 18 expect fireworks!”
It will be a fairly fascinating fight given Williams certainly has more training in combat sports, but not exclusively boxing. Gore, meanwhile, was able to carve out a 16-year NFL career at a position that typically pushes players out in half that time, if they’re lucky, and has taken up boxing much more recently. As guys like Robinson, Chad Johnson, and others have learned when they’ve gotten in the ring for an actual fight, the stamina required in boxing is a wholly different type of being in shape to football or basketball. That’s a big reason this is only a four round fight, but whichever of Williams and Gore can stay fresher for longer will likely have the upper hand. That they’re fighting another ex-ball player rather than a professional fighter also lends itself to making this fight have the potential to be much more entertaining.