(August 1, 2021) – Heavyweight Jonnie Rice (14-6-1, 10 KOs) scored a technical knockout 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 Prudential Center in Newark, New Jersey. Referee Eric Dali called a stop to the action at the 2:19 mark of the fifth round. “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 was originally scheduled to face longtime heavyweight contender Gerald Washington, but Washington tested positive for Covid-19 and Rice came in as Washington’s replacement. “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 concluded, “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.”
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.”
In the opening bout on FOX, unbeaten super welterweight prospect Joey Spencer (13-0, 9 KOs) secured a unanimous decision (79-73, 79-73, 80-72) victory over James Martin (7-3, 0 KOs). “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.” After missing weight for his scheduled welterweight scrap against Mielnicki, Martin became a late replacement to face Spencer at super welterweight. When asked if the late replacement had an impact on his performance, Spencer said, “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 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.” Spencer concluded, “I have a lot of names that I’m thinking about for 2022. I’d like another step-up fight to end this year, but I don’t have anyone specific in mind. But those names in 2022 will set me up for a title shot.”
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. The event was promoted by TGB Promotions