Deron Williams announced Friday that he is becoming the latest boxing/MMA enthusiast to get in the ring.
The former NBA point guard will reportedly fight on the Jake Paul-Tommy Fury undercard, and former NFL running back/athlete-hanging-on-too-long Frank Gore could potentially be his opponent.
While I’m not here to give an opinion on Williams’ reach versus Gore’s (I’m assuming) power, it’s fun to say shit like “Gimme the guy without a neck who played football for most of life by knockout in the fifth” because I know those two athletes.
Tyson Fury-Deontay Wilder III showed that boxing still has pull in the sports world, yet that fight seemed more like an outlier than a sign of things to come. Fury-Wilder wasn’t on my must-watch list because I’ve been burned countless times by overhyped matchups that have literally put me to sleep.
My knowledge of/interest in boxing is only cursory because I typically only watch my hometown favorite Terence Crawford fight. The Omaha, Neb., native is undefeated, in the conversation for best pound-for-pound boxers, and for reasons known only to inside boxing fans, hasn’t fought any fighter I’ve heard of. Despite that, I will be watching when he squares off against Shawn Porter on Nov. 20.
Did I know who Porter was before the fight was announced? No, but this, apparently, is finally his big fight. The chances of that being a bigger deal than the Paul-Fury fight a month later are small.
A YouTuber fighting Tyson Fury’s half-brother should not be normalized. However, Paul has now fought enough reputable opponents that he’s getting actual fights. Boxing fans watch Paul fights because they want to see him get knocked out, and other people watch Paul fights because I guess he’s popular? Even though he’s been accused of sexual assault and is generally awful.
It’s no surprise the same sport that can rarely get its best/most famous athletes in a ring together is letting spectacle gain credibility. Every Paul-based ticket that gets good ratings only incentivizes people like Williams and Gore to strap on a pair of gloves and hopefully not disgrace the sport enough to get a rematch/another purse.
The UFC has shown that marketing and healthy (as far as fair fights goes) competition is a wildly successful formula. My boxing knowledge may be limited, but even I know boxing doesn’t appear to have a formula or a functional governing body or any interest in pitting its best talents against each other.
No one asked for a Deron Williams-Frank Gore matchup, but the masses will watch because the masses love fights when they know who the fuck is fighting.
Fury-Wilder III proved that boxing is still capable of giving the sports world transcendent moments, but it’s fair to ask if boxing still wants to give them to us.