Chad Johnson Prepares for Professional Boxing Debut

Mike Roemer/AP ImagesChad ‘Ochocinco’ Johnson.

Floyd Mayweather Jr. and Logan Paul aren’t the only headliners battling it out in the boxing ring this weekend. Cincinnati Bengals legend Chad Johnson faces Brian Maxwell in an exhibition match on the undercard in Miami Gardens, Florida. Johnson spent much of his NFL career in Cincinnati (2001-2010), capturing most of the franchise’s receiving records.

“Ochocinco” is no stranger to testing out other sports besides football since he stepped away from the game in 2012. The 43-year-old has ridden a bull on the Professional Bull Riding circuit and had a tryout in Major League Soccer with Sporting Kansas City. The Maxwell fight should rank right up there with the bull among the toughest tasks Johnson has taken on in his post-NFL life.

“I feel good,” Johnson said this week. “I’ve used boxing to prepare for football for the past twenty years and then actually having to do it to this magnitude. Sparring, yes. Workout, yes, and preparing for football. But to prepare for an actual fight of this magnitude. I’ve never done it against an actual fighter that is good at what he does. This is what he does for a living, I’m not taking it lightly.”

Maxwell, 33, has won just two professional fights, but age and experience in the fight arena could carry plenty of weight in this four-round exhibition. The pay-per-view kickoff fight pits a fighter with boxing (0-1), MMA (2-3), and bare-knuckle boxing experience (0-3) up against a former football player stepping into the ring for the first time.

“[I’m] not literally scared to the point where, ‘I don’t want to do this,’ but yes, scared, of course,” Johnson said to the New York Post. “There’s just nervousness, butterflies — it just comes with anything that you do competitive-wise. I’m outside of my element. It’s something new for me, something I’ve never done before to this magnitude. Obviously, I’ve been in the ring [before], I’ve sparred for years, but now, it’s the real deal. People are watching.”

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SOURCE: Sports Illustrated, Russ Heltman

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