Chad Johnson’s boxing debut went better than expected, but the former NFL player nearly ended up a highlight reel in the final moments of his fight against Brian Maxwell.
With short time in the fourth and final round, Johnson hit the deck after Maxwell hit him with a right hand in the exhibition bout. Johnson got back to his feet and congratulated his MMA and bare-knuckle counterpart, but it was nearly a disaster.
”I had fun. I had two months to get ready for this,” Johnson said afterward. “I want to thank god for keeping me safe in here. My life has always been about taking chances, and this is just one off my bucket list.”
Early on, Johnson looked like he’d done the work of preparing himself for a professional fight. In the first, he landed a stiff combination, and just seconds from the closing bell, he landed another that produced a visible effect.
”I lost my virginity tonight, and it was fun,” Johnson said. “I think I’m ready for McGregor.”
Johnson blitzed early in the second round, using his left hand as the opening attack before a clinch broke his rhythm. On the break, Johnson landed another stiff jab. Maxwell tried to hunt down his opponent, but initially was only able to land rabbit punches in close when they clinched again.
Johnson continued to use his reach, using his jab and swinging wildly from the outside as Maxwell tried to counter in the third round. Johnson’s speed frustrated Maxwell as he tried to close.
But late in the third frame, he managed to corner Johnson and loose a few punches before his opponent escaped to open range. Maxwell did his best work in the final round as Johnson came into range, exposing himself to a flurry of hooks that did damage. Johnson got back on his bicycle and snuck in a straight left hook. But it was that right straight from Maxwell that dropped Johnson clean.
Johnson righted himself and tried to play it off, but a subsequent shot from Maxwell forced him to clinch up. Maxwell nearly caught him with another counter as he extended his jab in the final seconds, but Johnson survived to the final bell.
“Ask the world who Brian Maxwell is now,” Maxwell said afterward. “Brian Maxwell is here. Thank you Chad. It was an honor to fight my idol.”