Everybody wants to get punched in the face, respectfully.
On the heels of the announcement of Jake Paul’s next fight against Tommy Fury in Tampa Bay on Dec. 18, the undercard has more unlikely boxers on the card.
— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) November 9, 2021
NBA vs. NFL
Former NBA player Deron Williams will take on former NFL player Frank Gore in a professional boxing match. The bout feels like an unofficial NBA vs. NFL showdown, however unlikely.
The fight contested at heavyweight, with a 215-pound contractual limit, will go four rounds and is both athletes’ professional boxing debut.
Williams is a three-time NBA All-Star and two-time Olympic gold medalist. Before his NBA debut, Williams attended the University of Illinois, where he played college basketball and led them to the Final Four in 2005.
He subsequently landed the third overall NBA draft pick from the Utah Jazz. Aside from his time in the NBA, Williams earned gold medals for the U.S. national team in the 2008 and 2012 Summer Olympic Games.
“Combat sports have been a part of my life since my youngest days. Before I was a basketball player, I was a wrestler,” said Williams in a statement.
The Consummate Athlete
Williams is an all-around athlete who has had a lifelong love for combat sports. In fact, as a child, Williams’ first sport was wrestling, which he competed in for eight years. During that time he won two state titles.
His passion for combat sports has remained an integral part of his training regime ever since.
“Since 2015, I have had the privilege of owning an MMA gym, and through that I have trained in various martial arts to stay active. Over the last year, I’ve been waiting for the right opportunity to translate my training into a professional debut. I’m making that happen on December 18 against Frank, one of the physically strongest NFL players in history.”
A University of Miami alum, Gore was drafted by the San Francisco 49ers in 2005 as a third-round draft pick and remained a strong team player for ten straight seasons.
As a Niner, the running back gained notoriety for his rare and impressive athletic ability. Gore received five Pro Bowl selections, earned the title of rushing yards leader, and played in Super Bowl XLVII during his stint on the 49ers.
“I’m excited to be fighting on this card and can’t wait to show the world what I’ve been working on,” said Gore. “Boxing has me excited, and on December 18 expect fireworks!”
After leaving the Niners in 2014, Gore continued his NFL career, playing for the Indianapolis Colts, Miami Dolphins, Buffalo Bills, and New York Jets. Ranked third in all-time rushing yards and holding the NFL record for most games played as a running back, Gore’s boxing debut is another chapter in his athletic résumé.
Jake “the Problem Child” Paul takes on his second fight under his Showtime deal. It is a partnership with his Most Valuable Promotions and the premium cable network.
Logan Paul and Jake Paul mock Tyson Fury and Tommy Fury's video from earlier today…
— Michael Benson (@MichaelBensonn) November 8, 2021
It will be his first time facing an actual boxer in Tommy Fury, who happens to be the brother of heavyweight champion Tyson Fury. Although Fury is also a reality star in the U.K., he is regarded as the first real boxing test in Paul’s budding career.
However, Paul has been criticized for normalizing sideshow-level boxing. His $2 million payday against former UFC welterweight champion Tyron Woodley is on par with seasoned high-level boxers, and depending on weight class, sometimes they don’t make that much.
— TYSON FURY (@Tyson_Fury) November 8, 2021
Paul is 4-0 against two former MMA champions, a YouTuber and an NBA veteran. He is bringing a new audience to boxing but also is erasing the boundaries between sports and entertainment.
However, now that other sports entertainers are entering the professional boxing space under the Paul brand, could it dilute the sport to the point of non-recognition?
In America, the Golden Gloves competition is already not the pop culture factor it once was to build a boxer’s salability to the public at large. Jake Paul’s career also erodes the need for the typical pathways to success in the sport.
Jake Paul fired back after Khamzat Chimaev said he would "smash" Paul and his brother on the "same night" 😬
— MMAFighting.com (@MMAFighting) November 10, 2021
However, Paul has elevated the career of seven-division world champion Amanda Serrano, who will also fight interim lightweight titlist Miriam Gutierrez, in a 10-round affair.
But by trolling everyone in combat sports from Conor McGregor to Claressa Shields, there is a new pipeline to the big time in boxing, and Jake Paul is the progenitor of the movement.
However, there is a saying that you can’t play boxing, and with a barrage of interlopers, the aesthetic and culture of the sport are shifting.