Image: Sports Illustrated video still
Many people didn’t know what to think when former Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver Chad Johnson announced in May that he’d be stepping into the boxing ring.
Was he for real? Why boxing? Would he do well?
But just like in the old Chumbawamba song, Johnson got knocked down but got up again in the sport that made the fictional “Rocky Balboa” a household name.
Johnson made his boxing debut Sunday when he battled professional combat fighter Brian Maxwell on the undercard to the Floyd Mayweather Jr. vs. Logan Paul bout. The player formerly known as Ochocinco lasted all four rounds of the fight and, despite Maxwell knocking him down with a mean right hook, managed to land some major punches.
The match had no official judging, so a winner wasn’t declared, ESPN reported.
But Johnson impressed sportswriters nonetheless. “It was surprisingly entertaining for an exhibition bout,” ESPN said. “Ocho is throwing them hands,” Sports Illustrated tweeted.
Johnson, 43, threw 45 punches and landed 14 of them, ESPN reported. He also threw 10 jabs and landed four against Maxwell.
“I lost my virginity tonight and it was fun,” Johnson said. “I think I’m ready for (mixed martial artist and boxer Conor) McGregor.”
ESPN said that a number of current and former NFL players watched the bout in person at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens, including Terrell Owens, Jaylen Waddle, Stefon Diggs, Shaquill Griffin, Rayshawn Jenkins, Sidney Jones, Brandon Marshall and Channing Crowder.
Johnson announced his intention to box during the May 3 episode of the I AM ATHLETE podcast, which he hosts with fellow former NFL players Brandon Marshall, Fred Taylor and Channing Crowder, saying that the opportunity was one he “couldn’t really pass up.”
“June 6, ‘Sweet Feet Johnson’ gonna go in there,” Johnson said, cracking his podcast mates up at the time. He said that he would be paid “a cool million” for the fight.