Newark, NJ—In sports there is a saying “that is why we play the game”, in boxing that is why you get inside the ring to battle. The fight is not determined on paper but inside the ropes.
Late entry Jonathan Rice (14-6-1, 10 KOs) punished previously unbeaten WBA #9 heavyweight Michael Coffie (12-1, 9 KOs) in round five on Saturday night at the Prudential Center in Newark, New Jersey. Coming in on two days’ notice, Rice fought the fight of a champion, jumping on Coffie from the sound of the bell. By round five, Rice was in total control of the brawl, prompting referee Eric Dali to stop to the onslaught at the 2:19 mark.
“The whole key in life is getting better every day you walk this earth,” Rice told FOX’s Heidi Androl in his post-fight interview. “So, you know, I wanted to keep getting better, didn’t let my past dictate my future.”
Rice established his jab and landed them very well in the early rounds, and those punches took a toll on Coffie’s body in the fourth and fifth rounds.
By the third round, the 35-year-old Coffie was way behind in points on the scorecards and had a huge swelling under his left eye.
The previously undefeated Coffie, a Marine who served a tour of duty in Afghanistan in 2009 and 2010, went off as a 20-1 favorite, according to most boxing publications.
Coffie came out in the third round trying to load and knock Rice out but, he couldn’t put together the right combination to close him out. From that point on, Coffie looked tired, flat-footed, and done.
In the fourth, Rice landed a series of power shots that seemed to daze Coffie up a little bit and got him coming forward. But the round ended with Coffie breathing through his mouth, not initiating or reacting well to heavy blows to the body.
“A lot of fights I lost was because I was holding back,” Rice said. “I wasn’t believing in myself. I’ve got a great team around me that believe in me, but I’ve gotta believe in me, too.”
Rice proved to the world tonight anything is possible when you believe in yourself and you lay everything you have on the line.