Michael Coffie was unexpectedly knocked out by his late-notice opponent Jonnie Rice on Saturday night in New Jersey.
Coffie was an undefeated threat in the heavyweight division but now needs to rebuild himself after a shock loss.
He had gained a step forward to fight former world title challenger Gerald Washington after impressively beating Darmani Rock. But Washington pulled out earlier in the week after testing positive for Covid-19, opening the door for Rice to steal the show.
A barrage of unanswered right hands from Rice in the fifth round forced the referee to step in and save Coffie.
Rice had already lost six of 15 fights, including against Efe Ajagba, Demsey McKean, Tony Yoka and Arslanbek Makhmudov.
“I didn’t expect to overwhelm Coffie like that,” Rice said. “I knew Michael Coffie from his fights, but not because he had a great track record, but because he was a training partner for Deontay Wilder.
“In my head I played the little game that I was Luis Ortiz’s training partner for his second fight against Wilder. So technically it was Luis Ortiz’s training partners against Deontay Wilder. We’ll see what happens, I was playing with that in my head.
“I had to fight a bit like Deontay Wilder and then a bit different. That was the game plan.
“I wasn’t a late substitute. I was waiting for an opportunity. We replaced someone, but we weren’t late. We were right on time. I was training every day. ‘was training with Michael Hunter. I did 20 laps, 10 and 10 last Friday before I got the call. So when I got the call I was ready. “
“I want it all. I want what every boxer wants. I want to be the world champion. I understand my record doesn’t say it, but I want the world to watch my progress.”