When it was revealed in November that Deron Williams would be one of the fighters on Jake Paul’s pay-per-view card, the natural reaction was something like: “What the hell is going on?”

Yes, the three-time NBA All-Star is participating in a professional boxing match. And if that news alone didn’t blow your mind, how about this? He will face five-time Pro Bowl running back Frank Gore. They will compete in a four round heavyweight battle before the main event between Paul and Tyron Woodley.

Is this just a major cash grab by Williams? Not at all. Here’s why Williams decided it was time for him to step into the ring.

MORE: Gore vs. Williams fight date, time, pay-per-view price and more

How did Deron Williams get into boxing?

During a press conference in November, Williams explained that “he had always been drawn to combat sports.” He won several state titles as a youth wrestler in Texas, but his success as a basketball player meant wrestling had to be put on the back burner.

However, Williams maintained his passion for combat sports, opening the Fortis MMA gym in Dallas in 2015 and training there for the past six years.

“I always wanted to do it, I had the idea to maybe do a fight, maybe an MMA fight,” Williams said (via MMA Fighting). “I actually had one just before the COVID hit that I was in training ground for, and my opponent dropped out. So it was always in the back of my mind, and I’ve kept fit and continued. training … It’s one of those opportunities that comes along, and if I don’t take it, I feel like I would be kicking myself for not taking that opportunity for the rest of my life. “

While he has been energized by the opportunity to step out of his comfort zone, Williams does not view his fight against Gore as the first step in a long boxing career.

“I’m taking this as something unique, and we’ll see what happens,” Williams told Sports Illustrated’s Chris Mannix. “I never know until I get there and see what happens, but this is something I wanted to do just once. It gave me a reason to get back in shape and have a chance to fight, because I’ve always wanted to fight … No I’m trying to become a world champion or anything. “

Why is Deron Williams fighting Frank Gore?

Whenever athletes in their prime appear on a card, there is generally speculation about their financial condition, but Williams wants to shut down any of those conversations.

The 37-year-old made more than $ 157 million in total NBA salary from 2005 to 2017, according to Basketball-Reference, and was receiving checks from the Nets in 2020 because Brooklyn quit him in 2015 and used the stretch provision to spread take out the remaining money from your contract.

“When I received the last payment last year, they made a huge profit [online]”Williams told Ben Golliver of The Washington Post.” This has been happening. It’s not new.People say congratulations to me. It was my money! Should have gotten it five years earlier. They just stretched it out. How do you go from getting $ 5 million last year to now that I’m broke and I need money to do these fights? That is ignorant, but it is what it is. The [boxing] money is good, I’m not going to lie, but that’s not why I did it. “

Williams told Mannix that he just always wanted to fight “in some way, shape or form.”

“People ask me, ‘Why do you do it?’ I’ve had people like, ‘What are you thinking?’ Well, I’m doing it because I want to do it, “Williams said. “Yeah, it’s scary. I’m sure I’ll be nervous, but I think it will also be fun. I think it will be a unique experience that not many people will have the opportunity to do, especially in front of a crowd and the world.”

MORE: Predictions, Odds, Best Bets for Jake Paul vs. Tyron Woodley 2

Jake Paul vs. Tyron Woodley Fight Card 2

  • Jake Paul vs. Tyron Woodley, cruiserweight (eight rounds)
  • Amanda Serrano vs. Miriam Gutiérrez, lightweight (10 rounds)
  • Deron Williams vs. Frank Gore, heavyweight (four rounds)
  • Liam Paro vs. Yomar Alamo, junior welterweight (10 rounds)