Deron Williams Beats Frank Gore via Split Decision in Fight on Paul-Woodley Card

Nate Loop@Nate_LoopFeatured ColumnistDecember 19, 2021

Frank Gore, left, and Deron Williams box during the third round of a heavyweight special attraction fight Saturday, Dec. 18, 2021, in Tampa, Fla. (AP Photo/Chris O'Meara)
Chris O'Meara/Associated Press

Former NBA point guard Deron Williams impressed the judges enough to earn a split-decision win over free-agent NFL running back Frank Gore in a messy, four-round heavyweight boxing match Saturday night on the Jake Paul-Tyron Woodley undercard.

The bout, fought with a weight limit of 215 pounds, was changed from a professional bout to an exhibition on Friday by the Florida State Athletic Commission. Judges were still on hand to score the action, and they gave it to Williams with scores of 40-35, 38-37, 37-38.

Williams, 37, had the better moments overall, staggering Gore in the second and third rounds with a couple of solid combinations. Gore, 38, struggled to generate offense for long stretches and lacked the conditioning to pose a real threat to Williams.

Bleacher Report @BleacherReport

Still not over this 😨😨 #GoreWilliams (via @ShowtimeBoxing) https://t.co/LSHPycxwNw

Despite both fighters being new to boxing exhibitions, Williams came into the bout as a slight favorite. That was likely due to his significant height and reach advantages, which served him well in the first round.

Gore—who incorporated boxing into his offseason workouts for much of his 16-year NFL career—tried a bulldog approach to start, looking to get inside against Williams. He didn't have much success with it, as Williams was able to turn him away with a stiff jab. Late in the first round, Williams was able to stun Gore with a jab followed by a hard right hand to the jaw.

The second round was a bit of a mess, with both fighters landing on the canvas, but not because of any great punching. Gore cracked Williams early in the round, and the latter clinched immediately to keep himself upright.

After getting his balance back, Williams then threw a couple of punches and finished off the surge by shoving Gore into the ropes and nearly out of the ring, leading to a brief break as Gore got checked out by the doctor. Not to be outdone, Gore returned the favor just a few seconds after the restart, rushing Williams and sending him tumbling onto the floor.

SHOWTIME Boxing @ShowtimeBoxing

😳💥 #GoreWilliams https://t.co/l8ngy969Bx

The third round was much more controlled and saw Williams impress with a few stinging combinations and trap his opponent on the ropes. Gore was clearly exhausted, and he had difficulty generating offense save for a few wild haymakers that mostly missed the mark.

Andreas Hale @AndreasHale

They are both gassing but it’s clear that Gore doesn’t really want to be there anymore.

The fourth round lacked action as both fighters clearly ran out of gas. Gore managed to land a couple of good punches, as did Williams, but it was mostly the two exhibitionists just trying to hang on until the final bell.

Luke Thomas @lthomasnews

Fight kinda came to a stop in the fourth, but Williams won that. Technically this bout was an exhibition, so it won't go on anyone's record, but that's a commendable performance for the former NBA point guard. #PaulWoodley2

After the bout, Williams made it clear he would be content with the bragging rights afforded by the judges, as he said he had no desire to continue a boxing career. Gore wished he had done better, saying, "I've still got to learn some stuff," but congratulated Williams on his hard-fought victory.