Why the Hell Is Frank Gore Fighting Deron Williams on Saturday Night?

Williams and Gore are the undercard of the rematch between Jake Paul and Tyron Woodley in Tampa this weekend

Frank Gore and Deron Williams size up during a press conference at the Seminole Hard Rock Tampa
Frank Gore and Deron Williams size up during a press conference at the Seminole Hard Rock Tampa.
Julio Aguilar/Getty

In one of the weirder stories to emerge in sports, former NFL running back Frank Gore is going to fight ex-NBA point guard Deron Williams on Saturday night in a boxing ring in Tampa.

The bout isn’t happening because Gore ripped off the former Net in a business deal or because Williams was stepping out with the ex-49ers’ special lady, but instead because the Gore-Williams tilt will serve as the undercard of the rematch between Jake Paul and Tyron Woodley.

Gore, 38, played in the NFL up until this season and was a five-time Pro Bowler during 16 seasons with the 49ers, Colts, Dolphins, Bills and Jets. Williams, 37, spent 12 years in the NBA but hasn’t played pro ball since the 2016-17 season. Despite the lengthy layoff and the differences in physicality between their two sports, it is Williams who is favored to win Saturday’s four-round fight, not Gore.

“They have me as an underdog. Even though it’s both our first fight,” Gore told NFL.com. “I read that before I get up. Even when I’m tired and don’t want to come in the gym, it’s fuel for me. In football, I found ways to go harder every year. I looked for articles, slights. That’s what made me Frank Gore — being told what I can’t do. I want to tell the doubters thank you, because without y’all, I wouldn’t be me.”

A Texas native, Williams did win two state titles as a youth wrestler and actually outweighs Gore by a slim margin, but it seems odd an athlete who is used to hitting linebackers would be an underdog to a baller who is more familiar with hitting 3-pointers. Perhaps it is because 6-foot-3 Williams is six inches taller than Gore and has a 78-inch reach, nine inches longer than his opponent, per The Washington Post. Also, Williams was training as an MMA fighter prior to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Fighting is the hardest thing you can do, mentally and physically,” Williams told The Post. “It’s a grind. It takes a lot out of you. There’s a certain level of fear of getting embarrassed and waking up not knowing what the hell just happened. At the same time, you’re still making that walk. You’re still doing something that a lot of people don’t have the [guts] to do.”

To help out his former league-mate, ex-NFL-er Chad Johnson, 6-foot-1, joined Gore for a light sparring session two weeks ago. If you ask him, oddsmakers may have handicapped the fight incorrectly. “That s— hurt. The punches f—ing hurt. He’s heavy-handed,” Johnson said. “He’s out of my weight class, but I tried to sit in the pocket, giving him a look for what Deron could present. I caught one of the left hooks. It hurt. I was like, nah, let me get outside. He’s going to surprise the world. The boxing community will gain a new respect for us, because they’ll realize we aren’t disrespecting the sport. We’re putting the work in and looking good in the ring.”

And weird.

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