Known for his endless confidence during his days as a star NFL wideout, Chad Johnson is bringing a different kind of energy entirely to the boxing ring.
Johnson, 43, makes his boxing debut this Sunday when he takes on combat sports journeyman Brian Maxwell in an exhibition bout at the Floyd Mayweather vs. Logan Paul Showtime event in Miami. When he was making defenders look foolish while catching passes for the Cincinnati Bengals and New England Patriots from 2001-2011, the former “Chad Ochocinco” was known as much for his celebratory dances in the endzone as he was for the touchdowns that got him there.
However, he’s been noticeably humble in the lead-up to his fight with Maxwell and when asked about it at a press conference Friday, he wondered why anyone would think he should be otherwise.
“I’m out of my element, of course you approach it humbly,” Johnson said. “Dude coming to knock my f*cking head off. Yeah, I’m being humble. I’m nervous, what you talking about?
“Listen, you keep that same energy when it’s something that you know and you’ve done all your life. That’s when you come up and you be arrogant, you be cocky, that’s why I walk the way I did. I’m stepping into a ring, I’m sitting on the panel with dudes that do this for a living. This ain’t nothing to take lightly, coming in being arrogant. This ain’t what I do. The fight that I fight ain’t in the ring.”
Johnson has long been known to walk to the beat of his own drum—his decision to try his hand at boxing could be seen as another indicator of this attitude—but he’s had to find a different kind of discipline as he prepares to box for the first time.
Even though the charismatic former football player has taken his talents to various other entertainment programs including Dancing with the Stars, professional soccer, and even bull riding, he’s never had to diet like he has for boxing and the experience has made him legitimately aggravated.
“The funny fact that you said that is a whole thing obviously where I combat myself versus science and eating healthy and really not being for it,” Johnson said when asked about his diet. “Either you got it or you don’t. Regardless of what you consume or regardless of what you put in your body, either you’re blessed and you work to get what you got and you’re able to complete whatever respective craft it is that you do, but unfortunately the past two months I’ve had to eat f*cking healthy and it’s pissing me off.
“Y’all laughing, that sh*t ain’t funny. With the twins I’m eating salad, I’m eating greens and asparagus and stuff without no f*cking taste or seasoning… All jokes aside, that’s very upsetting.”
Primarily responsible for Johnson’s suffering are twin boxing champions Jermell and Jermall Charlo, who have been working with him ahead of the Maxwell fight. He’s also put in time with UFC welterweight contender Jorge Masvidal and in the end is hoping that he just doesn’t make a fool of himself on Sunday.
“I’ve been working with Masvidal a little bit last month sometime,” Johnson said. “But the past few weeks I’ve been in Houston with the Charlo twins. So as far as Floyd goes, I haven’t really bothered Floyd because he has his own stuff to handle. Other than that, most of my time, the bulk of the work has been in Houston with the Charlo twins and another trainer of mine down here from Miami, Rob Jacobs.
“So I’ve been doing everything possible to make sure I look the part Sunday night and not look like a fish out of water.”