‘Scared’ Chad Johnson feels familiar football nerves before boxing debut


The setting is new. The sensation is just not.

Chad Johnson, the 43-year-old former NFL receiver — whose 11-year profession included six Professional-Bowl appearances and flamboyant finish zone celebrations — will face Brian Maxwell in his first boxing match Sunday at Arduous Rock Stadium in Miami.

Johnson’s debut struggle is the opener on the Showtime pay-per-view card for the Floyd Mayweather-Logan Paul essential occasion — an evening Johnson informed The Submit he’s “excited” about, however admittedly “scared” and “nervous.”

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“[The feeling is] just like that of a soccer recreation,” stated Johnson, who spent most of his NFL profession with the Bengals (2001-2010), the group that chosen him with the No. 36-overall decide within the 2001 NFL Draft. He nonetheless holds a lot of the franchise’s receiving information.

“Sure, I’m scared. I [was] scared earlier than each soccer recreation. Any aggressive occasion earlier than you go into it, there’s a way of nervousness and worry, it’s purported to be,” he stated, noting that his worry doesn’t outweigh his need to step into the ring with Maxwell.

“[I’m] not actually scared to the purpose the place, ‘I don’t wish to do that,’ however sure, scared, after all. There’s simply nervousness, butterflies — it simply comes with something that you simply do competitive-wise.

“I’m exterior of my aspect. It’s one thing new for me, one thing I’ve by no means performed earlier than to this magnitude. Clearly I’ve been within the ring [before], I’ve sparred for years, however now, it’s the actual deal. Individuals are watching.”

Whereas Johnson stated he “likes” his opponent, that may carry no weight whereas they’re within the ring. Maxwell, 33, has expertise in boxing (0-1), MMA (2-3) and bareknuckle preventing (0-3).

“I’ve to guard myself as a result of he has one factor in thoughts — to return in and win and knock my head off, interval,” he stated.

Main as much as the occasion, Johnson spent three weeks coaching in Houston with boxing champions Jermall and Jermell Charlo. He completed sparring with the pair on Wednesday and is now dwelling in Miami following the brothers’ coaching program.

“It’s laborious. [A typical day] is totally different as a result of I used to be doing two-a-days with every,” Johnson stated, including that he’s been “a sponge,” absorbing info from the duo.

“I might go along with Jermall within the morning and Jermell within the night and it was extraordinarily laborious. They’re truly in camp and making ready for fights and I built-in into their camp, so I’m working the identical approach they work.”

Johnson’s can-do angle, fearless nature and animated character all contribute to his admirable confidence — a weapon he plans to make use of whereas entertaining viewers.

“You need to be assured in every thing that you simply do,” he stated. “When you’re not sure about it, you return to the drafting board till you might be. All of it comes from inside. It’s the way in which I’ve all the time been. Engaged on my craft beforehand, that’s the place the boldness comes from.”

Johnson maintained an leisure profession, together with appearing roles and extra, all through his NFL profession and right into a retirement that started when the Dolphins launched him in 2012.

After an illustrious profession, each on and off the sector, some would query why Johnson would tackle the four-round exhibition bout.

“That aggressive drive and starvation remains to be there. I simply may by no means get it by means of soccer as a result of soccer had ended, in order that aggressive drive and desirous to be nice at one thing it doesn’t matter what it’s, it’s nonetheless in me. That s–t burns in me nonetheless,” stated Johnson, who modified his identify to Chad Ochocinco throughout his time within the NFL.

“To have one thing to lock in on mentally, to see how nice I might be at it in a brief period of time, that’s thrilling to me. How nice can I get at one thing in a small period of time and do properly at it?”

One secret to Johnson’s relentlessness is his potential to embrace the unknown.

“You gotta simply have some kind of struggle in you and that braveness and willingness to step out of your consolation zone,” Johnson stated. “That’s one thing I’m doing on a a lot bigger scale however I believe it’s recommendation that folks can take.”

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Johnson is urging anybody feeling worry to “take some rattling possibilities in life.” Though he’s dwelling within the current, it’s seemingly his future isn’t within the ring.

“I don’t know concerning the future, as a result of it could be disrespectful to those that’ve been doing this their complete life. I believe this can be enjoyable. I’m going to concentrate on the task at hand proper now, and ensure I get out of this one unscathed and wholesome,” Johnson stated.

Regardless of the end result Sunday, Johnson, is a bonafide entertainer in any setting.



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