Heavyweight journeyman Jonnie Rice (14-6-1, 10 KOs) scored a TKO win in five rounds over previously unbeaten Michael Coffie (12-1, 9 KOs) in the main event of FOX PBC Fight Night and on FOX Deportes Saturday night from the Prudential Center in Newark, New Jersey. Referee Eric Dali called a stop to the action at the 2:19 mark of Round 5.
It was the second major upset of Saturday. Earlier in the day from Matchroom Boxing’s Fight Camp, unheralded last-minute replacement Leigh Wood dealt titleholder Can Xu a 12th round TKO to win the WBC World (Regular) Featherweight title.
“Honestly, I didn’t expect to overwhelm Coffie like that,” said Rice. “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. That’s what the game plan was.”
Coffie’s original opponent, perennial contender Gerald Washington of Los Angeles. tested positive for COVID-19. Rice came in as Washington’s replacement. He has been working as a sparring partner with Michael Hunter, scheduled for his own bout on Tuesday, August 3 against Mike Wilson at the Hulu Theater at Madison Square Garden.
“I wasn’t a late replacement,” added Rice. “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 said, “I want it all. I want what every boxer wants. 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.”
Vito Mielnicki sends his fans home happy
In the co-main event on Fox Sports, 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 filled with his local fans 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,”said 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. 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.”
Joey Spencer stays unbeaten
Unbeaten super welterweight prospect Joey Spencer (13-0, 9 KOs) secured a unanimous decision victory over James Martin (7-3, 0 KOs). Scores were 80-72 and 79-73 X 2. When Martin missed weight for his scheduled welterweight fight, he stepped in to face Spencer in the next weight division.
“There were one or two rounds where he was throwing and he had a lot of activity, but I was blocking,” said Spencer. “I only took one or two shots, and to be honest I would have thought it would be a shutout.”
Spencer said fighting a replacement opponent didn’t affect him. “No, it just showed me I’m right where God wants me to be. Once I got the change, it was a big fight, a big step-up against somebody coming off a big win. I needed these rounds. I feel like if I had fought (Tommy) Karpency it would have been the same. I needed this experience. I needed these eight rounds and I needed to set the pace because he was not going to go down.”
In FS1 undercard action, veteran contender and Olympic bronze medalist Andre Dirrell of Flint, Michigan (28-3, 18 KOs) looked sharp in his second fight at light heavyweight, getting a third-round TKO win over Christopher Brooker of Philadelphia (16-8, 6 KOs). It was Dirrell’s first fight since December 2019. The 2004 U.S. Olympic bronze medalist called out former two-division titleholder Badou Jack for his next fight.
Unbeaten heavyweight Norman Neely out of Patterson, New Jersey (9-0, 7 KOs) defeated Juan Torres of Cypress, Texas (6-4-1, 3 KOs) by unanimous decision with scores of 60-54 X 2 and 60-52.
Super lightweight contender and reality TV star Karl Dargan of Philadelphia (20-1, 10 KOs) knocked out Ivan Delgado of Los Angeles (13-4-2, 6 KOs), his third straight loss. Referee Harvey Dock called a stop to the fight at 1:09 of the third round.
The event was promoted by TGB Promotions.