It wasn’t always the prettiest fight, nor was it expected to be, but Deron Williams nevertheless opened some eyes in his exhibition fight against Frank Gore.
The former NBA guard was the aggressor for most of the fight, using his 9-inch reach advantage to land some hard shots on Gore and keep the former NFL running back at bay. The climax came during the third round when he landed a knockdown punch that sent shockwaves through the world of boxing and sent Gore fighting the ropes.
Williams won the fight by split decision (40-35, 38-37, 37-38), but insisted it was over after his only win.
“I’m going to sit my old fool somewhere and let these professionals do their m …” Williams told Showtime’s Ariel Helwani after the fight Saturday night in Tampa, Florida. “Honestly, I probably looked terrible there. I feel like in my last five training sessions, I was on point, not lifting my head. As soon as you get here, you start to get touched, it’s completely different – all your training. It goes out the window. It was fun, I was glad I had a chance to get out here and do it. But as I thought going into this, I am one and go. “
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The two fighters traded shots during the first two rounds, although Williams seemed the more skilled fighter as he dodged Gore’s hard shots and was able to connect with heavy shots of his own.
There was nothing harder than the blow he landed in the third round. Gore dropped his guard and Williams struck, landing a power punch to the head before following up with a few more punches to send Gore back against the ropes and earn a knockdown.
– SHOWTIME Boxing (@ShowtimeBoxing) December 19, 2023
“I knew I was going to have my advantage in a clinch and with my wrestling experience, so I used it to my advantage,” Williams said.
According to Showtime StatsWilliams landed 48 punches, 30 percent of his total thrown, while Gore landed 39, just 23 percent.
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Before the fight, former NFL wide receiver Brandon Marshall said on the Showtime PPV broadcast that NFL players were tougher than NBA players. Williams said there needs to be a few more fights to know if that’s true.
“Right now, it’s 1-0 (for the NBA),” Williams said. “Brandon Marshall can bring his … here and do it against someone and figure it out.”
Helwani asked Williams if that meant he would enter the ring against Marshall, but Williams immediately denied that he had an interest in another fight.
“Didn’t you just hear what I said?” Williams said. “I said you can come in here and do it against someone else.”
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Gore said that even in the loss, he had fun during the fight and came out with a lot to learn. He did not rule out returning to boxing.
“When he grabbed me, locked up, I let him hit me and I didn’t hit him back because I’m still learning, but it is what it is.” Gore told Helwani. “He came out, fought hard and got the dubbing, I’m fine.”
Williams said that given the disappointing end to his NBA career, he was happy with the way he performed.
“I just wanted to show myself that I could get out here and do this, man,” Williams said. “Everybody who’s talkin ‘on Instagram and Twitter, they wouldn’t step in here in front of all these people on PPV for their first fight, man. Hats off to Frank, man. Had a dream, had a goal. We came here, both of us , and we did. So, in my opinion, we are both winners. It’s one, one. “