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Frank Gore takes on Deron Williams today

Will our short king prevail against the former NBA star?

Frank Gore is going into Saturday’s fight with former NBA player Deron Williams in a position he’s more than familiar with: as the underdog.

The betting line for Gore opened at +200 but narrowed to +115. As of writing this, Gore is now the favorite in the fight. He’s -130 at DraftKings SportsBook, meaning you’d have to bet $130 to win $100. Deron Williams has nine inches on Frank Gore’s reach, and the hooper has been training MMA since 2015. Frank is well aware of his perceived disadvantage, and he told that he’s channeling the slight into his fight.

”I read that [I’m the underdog] before I get up. Even when I’m tired and don’t want to come in the gym, it’s fuel for me… In football, I found ways to go harder every year. I looked for articles, slights. That’s what made me Frank Gore — being told what I can’t do. I want to tell the doubters thank you, because without y’all, I wouldn’t be me.” Frank Gore to Cameron Wolfe.

Gore has taken on boxing as his side project for about fifteen years now, using it in his offseason to maintain his condition for football. While he’s currently not on a team, he’s expressed an openness to coming back to the 49ers for a playoff run if the opportunity arises and has reportedly set his sights on moving into an NFL front office. In the meantime, he’s relished the challenge of the fight, citing the fear of failure as a meaningful, motivating force in his life.

“I’m nervous every day. Even when I just think about it. Just because I want to do good,” Gore said. “If I’m being real, my whole 16-year career in football, I was nervous. When you have success, it’s hard to keep having success.” Frank Gore to Cameron Wolfe.

His opponent, Deron Williams, was a state champion wrestler in high school and owned his own fighting gym. His journey shares parallel with Gore, as an athlete looking to broaden his identity beyond his main sport, seeking to heal his own disappointment after injuries got the best of his basketball career.

“Mentally, I wasn’t in a good spot. Physically, I felt like I kept having these injuries that messed me up mentally even more. At that point, what do I do? Keep putting myself through the pain and disappointment of letting people down? As I had time to process, I realized that this doesn’t define me as a person. There’s more to life.” Deron Williams to Ben Golliver, Washington Post.

Both men clearly have a world of respect for each other while they use this fight to nourish their competitive spirits. Will the shorter, stouter Gore - who combined the aggression needed to pummel linebackers and defensive linemen with the prescient ability to see holes before they open - prevail against the taller, faster Williams? Both were relatively short in their sports, needing an elite ability to use angles, positioning, and leverage to do their thing - whether it’s driving or bursting through the hole, both athletes combined strengths with smarts to excel in their respective sports.

How does all that play out in the boxing ring? The parallels are fascinating, and the contrasts are striking. Let’s hope that our guy Frankie G brings home the W - 49ers fans know better than to bet against #21.

Gore and Williams face off Saturday evening on the undercard of the Paul-Woodley 2 Showtime PPV. The main card starts at 6 p.m. PT.