Former NFL All-Pro wide receiver Chad Johnson’s boxing debut was a roller coaster on Sunday that finished with him standing on his feet.
Johnson, 43, survived a knockdown in the final round after largely controlling the action against Brian Maxwell in a four-round exhibition bout that kicked off the Floyd Mayweather-Logan Paul pay-per-view card inside Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens, Florida.
As an exhibition fight with two-minute rounds, no judges were assigned and no winner was announced.
The man formerly known as “Ochocinco,” a six-time Pro Bowler who last played in the NFL in 2012, held the distinct height advantage in this battle of southpaws and kept Maxwell away with his jab and the threat of his left cross. But he didn’t receive a ton of resistance from the 33-year-old Virginia native until a huge surge in Round 4.
“I had fun. I had two months to get ready for this,” Johnson said. “Thank you to God, thank you to Floyd Mayweather and thank you to Brian. My life has always been about taking chances and doing crazy stuff. This one was just one of my bucket lists and that’s a message to people to get out there and live and not be afraid to fail. It’s OK.”
Although this was his in-ring debut, Johnson has been no stranger to boxing training throughout his NFL career and looked to be in tremendous shape after weighing in at 179.5 pounds. He landed a counter left to control the opening round and did well to avoid any trouble by using his swift footwork to circle away and even clown Maxwell.
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But given Johnson’s lack of consistent head movement, it felt like a knockdown could come if Maxwell only got close enough. For the first three rounds, he barely tried. A late surge finally found success when a winging left hand from Maxwell floored and appeared to badly hurt Johnson. The former NFL star got back up to his feet and initially wobbled around when the action restarted. He was exhausted and unsteady. Again, an equally tired Maxwell left him off the hook and Johnson finished the fight.
“Ask the world who Brian Maxwell is now?” Maxwell said. “Brian Maxwell is here.”
Maxwell outlanded Johnson, 17 to 14, according to CompuBox. Maxwell holds an 0-1 record as pro boxer and is 0-3 in bare knuckle fighting.