Three-time NBA All-Star Deron Williams and legendary NFL running back Frank Gore faced off for the first time following a press conference announcing their professional heavyweight boxing debuts on Tuesday at Edison Ballroom in New York City.
Williams vs. Gore will take place on the undercard of Jake Paul vs. Tommy Fury, live on SHOWTIME PPV on Saturday, December 18 at AMALIE Arena in Tampa. The four-round heavyweight bout will be contested with a 215-pound contractual limit as the two legends make their professional boxing debuts.
Also appearing at Tuesday’s event was seven-division world champion and current unified featherweight champion Amanda Serrano, who will face 135-pound titleholder Miriam Gutiérrez in the co-feature of the SHOWTIME PPV event.
Tickets for the live event, titled #PaulFury: One Will Fall, are now available for purchase at www.amaliearena.com.
Below are quotes from Williams, Gore and Serrano.
“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.
“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.
“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.
“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.
“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.”
“l have always loved boxing. I’ve been training since 2005. I was doing it because it would save my legs since I play running back. I just fell in love with it, how hard it was and I’m very competitive. I was just doing it for the cardio. My first time I didn’t think I could do it, but I kept getting better and better at it.
“I’m definitely not doing this for the money. I’m blessed. I’m good and blessed with football and off-the-field stuff.
“I’ve always been an underdog my entire life. I was raised in a one-bedroom apartment. I blew out both of my knees and many thought I wouldn’t make it to the NFL. Sixteen years later and I’m No. 3 on the all-time list.
“I’m happy to be here and I respect Deron. He’s coming from the NBA and I always say any man who gets into the ring has got to be different. I don’t care what sport you play. I’m training my behind off for December 18.
“I know he’s trained in MMA and coming over from the NBA but he’s no Nate Robinson. He’s been doing MMA for six years so I have to respect that. He’s been wrestling since he was a kid. I’m training my behind off and the only one I can worry about is myself. I’m looking forward to the challenge and let the best man win on December 18.
“Football and boxing are totally different. When you watched me play I never really got hit. That’s why I was able to last so long. I played off of angles. Now, with boxing I’m going in there with guys that have had 300 amateur fights, are 10-0 as pros. So I can’t just dodge all the shots they are throwing because they have more ring experience.
“I would say jogging has been the toughest thing. In football we never jogged. We always did sprints and pulled the sled but I had to really train myself to jog. I had to put my mind somewhere else and work on it.
“My favorite fighter is Floyd (Mayweather, Jr.). There are a bunch of guys I like to watch now. I like Terence (Crawford) and I like Errol Spence, Tank (Davis), Shakur Stevenson. I just want to be the best of me. Whatever my coach tells me to do I’m going to go out and try to do and do my best to get this win on December 18.”
“This fight is more important than the Katie Taylor fight. Miriam Gutierrez is a tough girl at 135 pounds and it’s not my natural weight class. I’m moving up two divisions. I have to get through Miriam in a way that people will want to see me fight Katie next.
“I would actually rather lose the weight than gain the weight. It’s so hard for me to keep the weight on because once I start training I drop it. I’m eating a lot of good foods and had to hire a nutritionist for this camp to make sure I’m strong. I’m a little girl, but I pack a punch wherever I go.
“I definitely want the Katie Taylor fight. That night could be the night I accomplish my goal and become the first undisputed boxer to come out of Puerto Rico. That would be an amazing night. Right now I’m concentrating on boxing because I have two amazing fights but in the future I definitely want to become an MMA champion, but right now it’s all about boxing.
“Pound for pound I think is a matter of opinion. Some people think I am, some people think it’s Claressa Shields. Katie actually fights the week before me so she has to look good, and I have to look good. I’m training really hard for Miriam. I know she is a tough girl and I’m just going to go out and be the best I can be and I think the fight with Katie Taylor is going to happen.”