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The idea of watching two elite athletes from different sports facing off in a boxing ring will always carry a certain strange appeal. That was the case heading into the four-round exhibition clash between former NBA star Deron Williams and the NFL's third all-time leading rusher Frank Gore on the undercard of the rematch between Jake Paul and Tyron Woodley. In the end, Williams was able to get the split decision victory in a rare exhibition that had scoring from ringside judges.
Williams entered the ring with a massive advantage in height and reach and put more than a decade of experience training in boxing gyms to work early, using a long jab to keep Gore from getting in range. In the opening round, that jab allowed Williams to follow with a sharp right hand that buzzed Gore.
Gore came back in the second round, rocking Williams with a double jab followed by a winging overhand right. Williams responded with a wild moment where he tried to swarm Gore before shoving him backward through the ropes and leading Gore to need to be checked by a doctor. When the action resumed, Gore returned the favor, trying to throw Williams through the ropes on the opposite side of the ring.
After a warning from the referee, the fight settled into something resembling more of a boxing contest. Williams took over the fight in the third and fourth round, showing more endurance as Gore clearly fatigued. Still, Gore found moments to land big right hand bombs even as Williams was pouring on strikes.
"I always was a physical point guard. 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 said. "Maybe I gained some new fans, but I'm just glad I made my team happy and my family proud. My mom was nervous. She didn't want to watch and see her son beaten up, so I hope she was proud of that."
Williams had the biggest moment of the fight in Round 3, landing a flurry of punches as Gore was pinned in the corner. The referee stepped in and issued a standing eight count to Gore, telling the former NFL Pro Bowler that he was being held up by the ropes and giving Williams a 10-8 round.
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At the conclusion of the four rounds, the judges turned in scores of 38-37, 37-38 and 40-35, giving Williams the split decision victory.
After the fight, Williams said he was officially "one and done" as a boxer.
"I'm gonna go sit my old dumb ass down somewhere and let these professionals do this shit," Williams said. "Honestly, I probably looked terrible out there. ... As soon as you come out here and start getting touched, all your training goes out the window."
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