NEWARK, New Jersey – Just minutes after causing a big surprise on boxing’s largest television platform, Jonnie Rice still didn’t have what it takes to brag.
“I’m working on my confidence,” Rice told BoxingScene.com after a technical knockout by Michael Coffie in the fifth round that FOX aired from the Prudential Center. “I’m not confident enough to start not calling anyone. But when you put it in front of me, do you know what I’m saying? I will do the job. That’s for sure. So we don’t run away from anyone and that’s it. “
The respectful Rice definitely didn’t run away from the previously unbeaten, strongly favored coffie.
Los Angeles-based Rice, 34, accepted his FOX PBC Fight Night main event in less than a week because Coffie’s original opponent, Gerald Washington, tested positive for COVID-19. Rice (14-6-1, 10 KOs) promised during a virtual press conference Thursday that he would be a much more offensive-minded fighter when faced with Coffie (12-1, 9 KOs) than he was in previous fights .
The 6-foot-5,268½-pound rice kept that promise almost immediately and changed his career completely. Most internet sports books considered Coffie a 20-1 favorite to hit her 10-rounder.
“We know they definitely want to see me again,” said Rice. “Like my trainer told me, he said, ‘Yo, they’re going to think it’s a coincidence, so they’re going to give you to someone else. They will pay you a lot more money ‘and you all know that I love money,’ but they will give you to someone else and you have to show them that it is not a coincidence. ‘ So that’s all I want to do is keep training hard and show them that whoever they put me back in front of me isn’t a coincidence. I will win again and I will continue to win. “
An active, accurate Rice would hit Coffie consistently with his right hands, and a confused Coffie couldn’t find the elusive Rice with clean hits.
Rice rocked Coffie with a right-left combination barely 30 seconds into the fourth round. A native of Columbia, South Carolina, he ran 40-36, 40-36, and 39-37 on the scorecards that went into the fateful fifth round.
A noticeable swelling under Coffie’s left eye has since become problematic. Referee Eric Dali halted action at 2:19 in the fifth round when a coffie walked away from Rice after absorbing another right hand and touching the damaged left side of his face with his right glove.
“I thought he was going to play opossum until the referee stepped in,” Rice said, “because I was really very careful with him, like I said. He is unbelievable. He’s a marine. I don’t play games with anyone of this caliber. “
Rice paid tribute to his trainer, former WBA super bantamweight champion Clarence “Bones” Adams, and two fighters in particular – Devin Haney and Michael Hunter – who were very supportive of him at the gym.
“It’s like a former friend of mine, Ivan Castaneda, said, ‘They look at you like a heavy bag. But when the heavy sack hits back, everyone runs away, ”Rice recalled.
Before conquering Coffie, Rice believes a lack of self-confidence caused him to lose TKO in the 10th round to Russian Arslanbek Makhmudov (11-0, 11 KOs) and Australian Demsey McKean (19-0, 12 KOs) and the Decision defeat against the Nigerian Efe Ajagba. cost (15-0, 12 KOs) and the French Tony Yoka (10-0, 8 KOs). He was immediately rewarded by the WBA, placing Rice in 11th place in the new ranking published on Sunday morning.
“I can definitely enjoy this moment,” said Rice. “Like I said, I always set goals and the goal I set for myself in this fight was to win this fight, prove myself, and keep doing it. My coach said I’m only two fights away from becoming a millionaire. That’s what drives me. “
Keith Idec is a senior writer / columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.