Rising heavyweight Michael Coffie has a new opponent for FOX’s main event Saturday night.
BoxingScene.com has learned that Jonathan Rice has replaced an ill Gerald Washington, who was supposed to represent a step up in class for Coffie. Washington contracted COVID-19 and was forced to withdraw from their 10-round fight at Prudential Center in Newark, New Jersey.
Los Angeles’ Rice (13-6-1, 9 KOs) has lost back-to-back bouts, but he went the distance with hard-hitting Nigerian contender Efe Ajagba (15-0, 12 KOs) in his last fight September 19 at MGM Grand Conference Center in Las Vegas. Rice also has gone the six-round distance with Tony Yoka (10-0, 8 KOs), a 2016 Olympic gold medalist from France.
The 39-year-old Washington (20-4-1, 13 KOs), a former USC football player from Vallejo, California, was supposed to end a 17-month layoff against Coffie. Washington hasn’t boxed since former IBF champion Charles Martin (28-2-1, 25 KOs) stopped him in the sixth round on the Tyson Fury-Deontay Wilder undercard in February 2020 at MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas.
The Brooklyn-bred Coffie (12-0, 9 KOs) produced the biggest win of his career to date in his most recent appearance. A Marine who performed a tour of duty in Afghanistan in 2009 and 2010, the late-blooming, 35-year-old Coffie floored Philadelphia’s Darmani Rock (17-1, 12 KOs) twice on his way to a third-round knockout FOX aired January 30 from Shrine Auditorium & Expo Hall in Los Angeles.
The Coffie-Rice fight will headline FOX’s tripleheader, which is scheduled to start at 8 p.m. EDT and 5 p.m. PDT.
The show also will include an eight-round rematch between Philadelphia’s James Martin (7-2, 0 KOs) and Vito Mielnicki Jr. (8-1, 5 KOs). Martin upset Mielnicki, a 19-year-old welterweight prospect from Roseland, New Jersey, by majority decision in an eight-rounder April 17 at Shrine Auditorium & Expo Hall.
In the opener of FOX’s telecast, 21-year-old junior middleweight prospect Joey Spencer (12-0, 9 KOs), of Linden, Michigan, is set to square off against Dan Karpency (9-3-1, 4 KOs), of Adah, Pennsylvania.
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.