Ex-NBA player Kendall Gill was watching the Triller Fight Club event this past weekend with all eyes on Jake Paul as he demolished retired UFC fighter Ben Askren with a brutal right hand in the opening round.
Prior to that fight being booked, Gill had actually called out Paul as a chance to avenge another former NBA player in Nate Robinson, who fell victim to the YouTube celebrity’s knockout punch just a few months earlier.
In addition to his 15 year NBA career, Gill has also been a lifelong boxing enthusiast and after he retired from basketball, he actually laced up the gloves and took several professional fights. All told, Gill racked up a perfect 4-0 record with three wins coming by way of knockout but he was really just doing something he loved.
These days, Gill is a NBA analyst on television in his native Chicago but he still gets to the boxing gym at least three days a week. At 52, Gill is still in tremendous fighting shape and that’s why he’s once again calling out Paul to accept his challenge to finally face some real competition in the ring.
“Look, I don’t knock the guy’s hustle,” Gill said about Paul when speaking to MMA Fighting. “Actually, he’s a genius going from YouTube to boxing and selling 2 million pay-per-view buys last Saturday. He did a great job with the Nate Robinson fight as well as far as stirring up interest. He does take the sport seriously. I can see that he has improved in his skill level. He’s got a good trainer in B.J. Flores but he does not fight anybody on his level. He picks guys he can beat and I understand that. Because they have to keep the thing that they’re doing going because if he loses it’s over.
“So all of his followers are mainly millennials that follow him. When he boxes, they tune in no matter who he fights and he does pick names. Nate Robinson was a name. Ben Askren was a name. I guess AnEsonGib was a name, I don’t really follow that but I know about the other two guys that he fought. They had followings and that’s what made the pay-per-views go up thus making him money. But sooner or later he’s going to have to fight somebody with boxing experience. Then, I think his circus will end.”
According to Gill, he started getting calls from fellow players around the NBA after Paul dispatched Robinson with a devastating knockout this past November and asking him to avenge that defeat.
“I had so many NBA players contacting me ‘we know you’re a boxer, we know you’re 4-0, please go back and avenge Nate Robinson’ and that’s why I called him out,” Gill explained. “He should accept the challenge. I’m 4-0, he’s 3-0. Let’s put our undefeated records on the line.
“It will sell bigger than the Ben Askren fight because I’ve already had Shaquille O’Neal speak on the fight saying he’ll back me, he’ll bet money on me for the fight. Dame Lillard posted about me, Isaiah Thomas, all these guys and that’s three Hall of Famers now in the NBA. That’s a huge following.”
After initially calling out Paul after his win over Robinson, Gill says he was rebuffed by the 24-year-old boxer’s team that branded him as too old and not relevant enough to demand a fight against him.
Gill argues that at 52 while training at his boxing gym no less than three times per week right now that he’s already in incredible shape for a fight not to mention the kind of buzz that’s been building inside the NBA community to see him teach Paul a lesson.
“Believe me, if they decide to take the fight, the rest of the NBA is coming,” Gill said. “That’s hundreds of millions of followers. That will make this event huge. Way bigger than what he did this weekend. But the thing is, I don’t think he’ll take the fight cause he sees my Instagram, he sees what I can do. They said to me ‘you don’t bring enough followers’ and that’s why I contacted Shaq and told him to do what he did for me.
“Then they go ‘oh he’s 50 years old, what would Jake get out of boxing a 50-year-old’ but then they called out Dana White on Twitter. Dana White is 51 years old. There’s no difference. So they have nowhere to run now. If the run now, they’re just afraid that he’s going to get beat, which he will.”
Even if he doesn’t get the fight, Gill hopes that Paul will actually take a step up in competition if he’s going to continue his professional boxing career.
In particular, Gill would like to see Paul fight someone his own size for once after handpicking opponents that have been much smaller than him so far in his career.
“Ben [Askren] campaigned at 170 pounds. Nate Robinson soaking wet is 175 pounds. AnEsonGib, who he fought before, was about 175 pounds,” Gill said. “So the trick is to fight smaller guys. That’s why he’s been calling out Conor McGregor, he’s been calling out Nate Diaz, all those guys who I think are tremendous fighters in their weight class. Jake Paul sweats down from about 210 pounds down to 190. He’s really a heavyweight but he sweats down to cruiserweight to fight these guys.
“So of course he’s going to have an advantage when he hits these guys with his right hand. He probably, after the weigh-ins, rehydrates back up to 210 pounds. He probably walks into the ring above 200 pounds, I guarantee you that. For me, I can get down to cruiserweight. We’ll be the same size. I guarantee his punches won’t have the same effect on me as they do on other guys. I can take his punch, even though I don’t think he’ll be able to hit me.”
Gill hopes that Paul’s team will recognize the validity in a fight against him because “on paper” they are on equal footing in terms of experience in the ring.
More than anything else, the former NBA guard wants Paul to finally face someone who presents a legitimate challenge, which is what Gill believes he represents.
“They’ve got to go get someone with boxing on their resume, some experience on their resume,” Gill said. “Ben Askren, I love Ben Askren but he was I believe out of his element because he couldn’t grapple. If they were in a real fight, he’d kill Jake. But because it’s boxing and because Jake Paul has been training for three years and Ben is retired, just had hip surgery in September. I did not expect him to go in there and defeat Jake Paul, especially when he hasn’t been training at boxing like Jake Paul.
“If he accepts the fight against me, he’s facing somebody that lives, breathes and sleeps boxing same as him.”
Gill is still waiting to hear from Paul or his team now that a new challenge has been issued and he’d love nothing more than to start a training camp as soon as possible to get ready for a fight.
“Step up and fight some real competition,” Gill said when issuing a direct message to Paul. “Somebody with real boxing skills just like you.
“He’s ready to go. I’m ready to go. This is where we’re at, this is what we’re aiming for. I know there’s a lot of guys on deck that want to fight him. I still think with the exception of Conor McGregor, I’m the biggest fight he can get.”