Chad Johnson is set to make his boxing debut on Sunday when he steps into the ring against Brian Maxwell.
As a part of the Floyd Mayweather vs. Logan Paul undercard, either Johnson or Maxwell will get the first win of their respective boxing careers. Johnson hasn’t fought to date while Maxwell sports an 0-3 record as a boxer, though he is 2-3 as an MMA fighter.
But why is the former NFL star fighting? Sure, it isn’t for monetary purposes, as the former Bengal made plenty during his NFL career to keep him going.
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Instead, Johnson is just hoping to entertain folks as he looks to hold his own against a professional fighter.
“My goal is to get out alive. I want my face still intact. I want my kids to still know it’s me. But I want to entertain. I don’t want to embarrass those who put the time and energy into me,” Johnson said, per ESPN. “People who are buying tickets, people that are showing up, I want them to leave and say, ‘I doubted Ocho, but to see him get in the ring, knowing that someone tried to kill [him]. He put on one hell of a f—ing show.’”
However, despite his love for boxing, Johnson is only treating this exhibition as a one-time event.
“This is a one-time thing,” Johnson said of his exhibition, per SB Nation
. “I’ve done some crazy things in life, and this is one to add and scratch off the bucket list. I’m coming in there to have fun and entertain.”
Certainly, that’s something that Johnson has been good at during his career. With the Bengals, he sported the nickname of Ochocinco before changing his last name to that later in his career. Johnson was known as a fun-loving player whose on-field antics delighted fans.
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Now, he’s hoping that will carry over into the ring, even though he didn’t think that he would ever be involved in a boxing match.
“I never thought about stepping in the ring,” Johnson said. “I never thought there would be an opportunity to do so. But I love boxing. I’m friends with every boxer out there because I love and study all of it.
“I didn’t expect anything like this to happen. When Floyd called, the first thing I wanted to know was how much time I had to prepare. Once I knew that I had enough time that I could look like myself in there, I knew I could pull it off.”
And Johnson has been putting in some serious work to make sure that he does put his best foot forward in his match with Maxwell. He has been training with boxing champions Jermall and Jermell Charlo to help him prepare, and while the work has been hard, Johnson thinks that he’s in a good place to at least compete in this fight.
“They’re down here f—ing me up in the ring. It’s upsetting,” Johnson said. “It’s good work, though. The only thing that is saving me with them is my athleticism and my ability to want to survive. Taking what I’ve learned throughout the years and trying to execute it in the ring while pressure is being applied. It’s been cool and enjoyable. It’s been a great learning experience for something I’m going to do on June 6, and what better people to learn from than the best of the best.”
We’ll soon see how much of Johnson’s training carries over into the ring. Learning from the best will surely help him.
But he only has one chance to get this right.