Heavyweight Jonnie Rice (14-6-1, 10 KOs) got a big opportunity at Prudential Center in Newark, New Jersey, when he stepped in for Gerald Washington(COVID-19) to score a technical knockout over previously unbeaten Michael Coffie (12-1, 9 KOs) in the main event on Saturday night(FOX).
Referee Eric Dali called a stop to the action at the 2:19 mark of the fifth round after Rice was tagging Coffie in the corner.
Rice had lost two straight fights before battling Coffie on Saturday night, including a unanimous decision loss to Efe Ajagba last September, but he fought inspired against Coffie and dominated the fight from start to finish.
While Rice was a late replacement, according to him, he was ready.
“I wasn’t a late replacement,” Rice said. “I was waiting for an opportunity. We replaced someone, but we weren’t late. We were right on time. I was training every day. I was training with Michael Hunter. I did 20 rounds, 10 and 10, last Friday before I got the call. So when I got the call, I was ready.”
Rice was surprised by how Coffie fought. He expected Coffie to be more of the aggressor. However, it was the opposite. Rice was the one dictating things in the ring. In his mind, it was like Deontay Wilder versus Luis Ortiz, and he was Wilder.
“Honestly, I didn’t expect to overwhelm Coffie like that,” Rice said. “I knew Michael Coffie from his fights, but not because he had a great record but because he was a sparring partner for Deontay Wilder. In my head, I played the little game that I was Luis Ortiz’s sparring partner for his second fight against Wilder. So technically, it was Luis Ortiz’s vs. Deontay Wilder’s sparring partners. We’re going to see what happens. I was playing with that in my head. I had to fight a little bit like Deontay Wilder and then a little bit different.”
The 34-year-old did not call out anybody after the fight, but at this point, the goal for Rice is to be a world champion and make a bunch of money doing it.
“I want it all. I want what every boxer wants,” he said. “I want to be world champion. I understand that my record doesn’t say that, but I want the world to watch my progress. I’m not in the right mind to be calling people out. I’m just going to be ready for the opportunity, and when it comes, I’m going to answer the call. I’m going to get as much money for it as I can. And you know one thing, I’m going to put on a show.”
Coffie did not look good on Saturday night, but all the credit goes to Rice; he was well-prepared and fought a great fight. Now, maybe more significant opportunities are on the way.
Mielnicki dominates Kidd
In the co-main event on FOX, New Jersey native Vito Mielnicki Jr. (9-1, 6 KOs) knocked out Noah Kidd (6-4-2, 5 KOs) in the second round of their welterweight contest. Mielnicki scored a knockdown in the opening frame, causing the crowd at Prudential Center to erupt with cheers for the hometown favorite.
Mielnicki continued to batter Kidd in the second round, forcing Kidd to take a knee. Referee Eric Dali had seen enough at that point and stopped the action at the 2:32 mark of the second round.
“Kidd was fading fast,” said Mielnicki. “That’s why I started to pick up the pressure. He was starting to wilt. I learned in my past performance that when you have someone hurt you have to finish the job.”
Mielnicki was supposed to compete in a rematch against James Martin, but Martin missed weight. Kidd was originally scheduled to fight on the non-televised portion of the undercard, but filled in as Martin’s replacement against Mielnicki.
“There were no issues with the change of opponent,” added Mielnicki. “I trained for a more technical fighter. Kidd was more awkward than Martin. We got the job done in front of my hometown fans, so I’m happy.”
Having noticed the tremendous amount of support at Prudential Center, Mielnicki concluded, “This is my home and these are my people. Whenever we fight in Jersey this is where we’re doing it. I’m looking forward to many more fights here.”
Dirrell stops Brooker
In FS1 action, veteran contender and Olympic bronze medalist Andre Dirrell (28-3, 18 KOs) got a technical knockout win over Christopher Brooker (16-8, 6 KOs) in their light heavyweight bout. Referee Richard Gonzalez stopped the fight at the 2:58 mark of the third stanza.
The FS1 co-main event featured unbeaten heavyweight Norman Neely (9-0, 7 KOs) defeating Juan Torres (6-4-1, 3 KOs) by unanimous decision (60-54, 60-54, 60-52).
The FS1 opener showcased super lightweight contender Karl Dargan (20-1, 10 KOs) knocking out Ivan Delgado (13-4-2, 6 KOs). Referee Harvey Dock called a stop to the action at the 1:09 mark of the third round.
Photo/credit: Frank Micelotta/FOX