Michael Coffie sudden change after Gerald Washington COVID news

Heavyweight Michael Coffie was supposed to fight Gerald Washington on July 31, but Washington tested positive for COVID-19. New opponent, same focus. 

Heavyweight Michael Coffie was days away from his July 31 FOX boxing main event with Gerald Washington. Then, he received news that Washington tested positive for COVID-19 and that he’s fighting Jonnie Rice instead.

Combat sports was hit hard by COVID-19 during the week of July 26. In addition to Washington, Conor Benn, Amanda Nunes, Cody Crowley, Maliek Montgomery, and Justin DeLoach tested positive for COVID-19 altering or canceling their scheduled contests.

Coffie shared his initial reaction to the news of Washington’s positive test with FanSided during a fight week media call.

“When I got the word, the first thing I said out loud was, ‘Are you serious?'” Coffie told FanSided. “That was my first initial reaction.”

The sudden change hit Coffie momentarily, but the former U.S. Marine didn’t let the disappointing news disrupt his focus.

Jonnie Rice is the new opponent Michael Coffie, but Coffie is a power-punching heavyweight on the rise

“After that, it was like what’s done is done,” said Coffie. “So now time to look at his [Rice’s] fights again.”

Rice was on Coffie’s radar. Coffie did a little film study and said that he only had to make minor changes to his original fight strategy for Washington. He regrouped mentally and was ready for a new opponent.

Coffie (12-0, 9 KOs) came late to boxing, starting his amateur career in 2016 and turning pro in 2017. Like fellow heavyweights Deontay Wilder and Joe Joyce, Coffie found boxing later in life, but he had a much shorter amateur career, unlike them.

To make it as a headliner on a FOX card in less than four years as a professional is nothing short of remarkable. Coffie is gifted with natural physical talents like his 6-foot-5, 270-pound frame and immense punching power, but he credits his success to his mental makeup.

“My ability to focus and compartmentalize has helped me the most in my boxing career,” said Coffie. “I learn what the mission is, install a game plan and then follow it. It’s Marine Corps stuff, really.”

Coffie’s Marine training and life experiences as a soldier are aiding him in his hunt for a world title. He’s 35 years old, and his path is far from typical, but he’s moving up the ladder fight by fight.

He knocked out previously undefeated Darmani Rock in January and is looking for a similar result against Rice on July 31 at the Prudential Center in Newark, New Jersey.

Coffie said, “I want a knockout for sure, but I’m looking to win, and I’m looking to do it dominantly. I’m looking for it to be exciting, but yeah. I want a knockout for sure.”

Michael Coffie vs. Jonnie Rice takes place on Saturday, July 31, from the Prudential Center, in Newark, New Jersey. Coverage begins at 8 p.m. ET on FOX. Follow along with FanSided for all your live news and highlights.