All current, former, and future NBA players should thank and praise former NBA All-Star Deron Williams for bringing a little credibility back to the ballers arena. For those who still believe that all basketball players are soft in comparison to their football counterparts, then you probably didn’t watch Williams’ fight against former NFL Pro Bowler Frank Gore on Saturday night. Deron won by split decision against Gore. For both, it was their first celebrity bout.
After watching the Nate Robinson debacle last year against Jake Paul, hoopers everywhere were likely nervous about Williams stepping in the ring against a guy like Gore, who played running back in the NFL for 16 years. Many picked Gore to win, leading up to the fight, although Williams has been training in MMA for years. No, it isn’t boxing (just ask Tyron Woodley about that), but it is a combat sport and even more physical than football.
“Honestly, I probably looked terrible out there,” Williams said. “As soon as you get out here and you start getting touched, all your training goes out the window. It was fun. I’m glad I had the chance to come out here and do it, but like I thought coming into this, I’m one and done.”
“I always was a physical point guard,” Williams explained after the fight. “I never shied away from contact, and I showed that today. People think basketball players are soft, but I never was one. That’s what I was looking to accomplish here today.”
Williams was definitely the aggressor in the fight, although Gore also got his shots in. Like most, I certainly didn’t expect Williams to come out and take the fight to Gore in a brawling manner the way he did. At certain points, this looked like an MMA or wrestling match. It felt like the fighters almost switched roles, and Williams was the former gridiron pro. In the post-fight press conference, Gore pretty much laid down the challenge for a second bout, but Williams claims he’s out after this one.
Don’t expect the celebrity boxing circuit to slow down any time soon because more NFL and NBA players plus MMA fighters are lining up for a celebrity boxing payday. Le’Veon Bell claims he now wants to jump in the ring as he thinks he can do what Tyron Woodley couldn’t — he lost to Paul for a second time on Saturday night, this one by knockout in the sixth round.
As for Williams and Gore, it doesn’t sound like there’s going to be a second fight, but in the fight game, we’ve learned over the years to never say never. Even if it wasn’t about the money, if the proper dollar amount comes across for Williams, I’m sure he could be persuaded to do another boxing camp in preparation for a rematch with Gore.
I’m not sure how far all this can go, but it certainly has legs now and a following, so it seems like celebrity boxing is here to stay for a while. And as long delusional current and former non-combat sport athletes feel spunky, these barely amateur paid fights will continue to generate buzz across the internet.