Jonnie Rice knows he can no longer bank on the element of surprise heading into his rematch with Michael Coffie. (photo by Ryan Hafey)
That doesn’t make him any less confident of repeating what happened in their first fight just five months ago.
“There is a lot of pressure to show that it was for real,” Rice confessed during the final pre-fight press conference ahead of the rematch with Coffie, which is part of a five-fight New Year’s Day Pay-Per-View distributed by Fox Sports and Fite TV. “A lot of people thought it was a fluke. I’m here to show that it wasn’t.
“We’re just here to it times two, sounds good. Y’all paying me more, so I’mma do it even faster.”
Rice (14-6-1, 10KOs) earned one of the biggest upset wins of 2021, scoring a fifth-round stoppage of the previously unbeaten Coffie in a surprisingly one-sided affair this past July 31 on Fox from Prudential Center in Newark, New Jersey. The 34-year-old Rice—originally from Columbia, South Carolina but who now lives and trains in Los Angeles—was a late substitute for former heavyweight title challenger Gerald Washington, who was a late scratch after testing positive for Covid.
Washington is also part of Saturday’s show, facing Hamburg’s Ali Eren Demirezen (14-1, 11KOs).
Coffie (12-1, 9KOs) was expected to blow through Rice and continue his rise as a heavyweight prospect. That never came close to happening, as Rice—a +1000 underdog heading into the fight—dominated the fight from the opening bell en route to forcing a stoppage in by far the biggest win of his career to date.
There is a sense that Coffie was already looking ahead, perhaps at a rescheduled fight with Washington or whatever challenges waited in the wings. None of that matters, as Rice expects to have his rival’s undivided attention this time around.
“I don’t feel like he underestimated me. His attention and focus was on Gerald Washington,” acknowledged Rice. “He fought well that first fight but I don’t think he underestimated me at all.
“I can’t lie, though. I’m more overconfident more so than ever. Honestly, he needs to bring me a level down. My head’s just gonna keep getting bigger and bigger. Somebody’s gonna have to do something about that. He might have to do me a favor and bring me on back down. I’m ready to take on the whole world.”
The rematch between Rice and Coffie is part of a five-heavyweight fight PPV from Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Hollywood, Florida. Headlining the show, top contender Luis Ortiz (32-2, 27KOs; 2NC) faces fellow southpaw and former IBF heavyweight titlist Charles Martin (28-2-1, 25KOs) in a scheduled twelve-round title eliminator.
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox