Former NFL wide receiver Chad Johnson said Tuesday he's training with the Charlo brothers, boxing champions Jermall and Jermell, ahead of his exhibition bout against bare-knuckle fighter Brian Maxwell on the Floyd Mayweather Jr. vs. Logan Paul undercard.
Johnson, who went by the name Chad Ochocinco during the latter stages of his NFL career, told ESPN's Cameron Wolfe he's taking the June 6 fight and the risks associated with it seriously:
"My goal is to get out alive. I want my face still intact. I want my kids to still know it's me. But I want to entertain. I don't want to embarrass those who put the time and energy into me. People who are buying tickets, people that are showing up, I want them to leave and say, 'I doubted Ocho, but to see him get in the ring, knowing that someone tried to kill [him]. He put on one hell of a f--king show.'"
Johnson, 43, earned six Pro Bowl selections across 10 years with the Cincinnati Bengals, who selected him in the second round of the 2001 draft. He also made stops with the New England Patriots, Miami Dolphins and the CFL's Montreal Alouettes.
The Miami native admitted to Wolfe he's been taking some in-ring punishment from the Charlo brothers, but he's hopeful training with boxers who've reached the sport's highest levels will pay off:
"They're down here f--king me up in the ring. It's upsetting. It's good work, though. The only thing that is saving me with them is my athleticism and my ability to want to survive. Taking what I've learned throughout the years and trying to execute it in the ring while pressure is being applied. It's been cool and enjoyable. It's been a great learning experience for something I'm going to do on June 6, and what better people to learn from than the best of the best."
While Johnson has no formal fighting experience under his belt, Maxwell has tried his hand at boxing, bare-knuckle fighting and MMA, something the former NFL star understands puts him at a disadvantage: "I'm stepping into another man's environment and he's trying to kill me. Period."
The Oregon State product told Wolfe he views his trip into the boxing ring as a one-off experience for now, and he's hoping to make it a memorable one:
"I wouldn't step in the ring with Charlo or Canelo [Alvarez], but the opportunity presented itself to move around with somebody who has skills and has ring experience. I felt I was in adequate enough shape and had enough background to do it. With huge amount of respect for combat sports, I couldn't pass up the opportunity."
Other fights on the Mayweather-Paul undercard include a WBA light heavyweight title fight pitting champion Jean Pascal against Badou Jack, and a matchup between Jarrett Hurd and Luis Arias.
The June 6 card will take place at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami.