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Williams vs Gore: Deron Williams looks forward to fight against Frank Gore, misses competing

Williams has been retired from the NBA for several years now but enjoys having something to train for.

Stephanie Trapp/SHOWTIME
Wil Esco is an assistant editor of Bad Left Hook and has been covering boxing for SB Nation since 2014.

Yesterday Showtime Sports held an official press conference for an upcoming boxing match between retired NBA guard Deron Williams and longtime NFL running back Frank Gore, who will meet on the undercard of Jake Paul vs Tommy Fury on December 18. During the presser Williams discussed his past experience in combat sports, saying he’s sort of been preparing for this moment for years now.

“I’ve always wrestled all the way until high school and always been a big boxing and MMA fan. I’ve done a lot of training at my gym, Fortis MMA, in Dallas for the past six years,” said Williams.

“I’ve always wanted to do an MMA fight. I had one that I was training for before Covid hit but my opponent pulled out. It was always in the back of my mind and I’ve always stayed in shape and stayed training. I got a call from Nakisa (Bidarian) who I hadn’t talked to in five years and he said Frank Gore was training and looking for an opponent, and I felt like it was a great opportunity. I felt like if I didn’t take it I’d be kicking myself for the rest of my life.”

Speaking on his opponent in Gore, Williams believes he’ll be a good sturdy challenge as Gore’s renowned for his toughness.

“Frank looks good. If I’m going to do a fight I’d rather do it with someone who is capable and who has been training. The man is tough, there’s no doubt about that. Anyone who can take that many snaps in the NFL has to be tough. It’s a good challenge for me and something that I can check off the bucket list.

“Most people are behind me. I’ve had some people say, ‘You’re fighting Frank Gore. What are you doing?’ But that’s OK. There are a lot of unknowns in this game, so it makes it exciting. I’ve been training for years and doing a lot of MMA, and a lot of it has been boxing.

“I first started wrestling when I was like five. I didn’t really know what it was and I spent the whole season being dragged on the mat by my mom crying because I was so scared to go in there. But she said I had to because she had already paid for it and said you’re going to do this every weekend. So I basically went out there crying, got pinned, walked off the mat and then did it again for the whole year. The next year she asked if I wanted to sign up again expecting I would say no, but I actually said yes for some reason. I did that for about a half year before I turned into a little animal. So I think that year and a half of getting pinned made me tougher. Wrestling is a tough sport, and it was a great base for me and I’m really glad I did it and was able to go to the state tournament in Texas as an eight-year-old and 12-year-old. And I would have loved to have kept going but it was in the same season as basketball.”

Williams then went on to reflect on being a boxing fans as a child, watching some of all the greats who’ve inspired him.

“I loved watching the heavyweights. Growing up in the ‘90s and watching (Mike) Tyson and all those wars they had. And watching (Evander) Holyfield. It was just a special time in boxing and there were still other fighters, but those were the ones I was watching and who I was excited to see.”

Now instead of watching on television, it’ll be Williams who has to step between the ropes and under the bright lights, something he’s sort of used to, but has never experienced quite like this.

“I jogged four miles yesterday and that was the first time I’ve ever run four miles. It’s getting out of your comfort zone and it’s a different feeling. Basketball, and football for him, we’re comfortable with that work. It’s learning to get hit in the face and being OK with it. It’s just a new challenge. I’ve been retired for four years now. You just miss competing. You miss having something to train for.”

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