Boxing is back in New Jersey as Premier Boxing Champions on FOX returns to the Prudential Center on July 31st. Headlining the card is a crossroads fight at heavyweight as undefeated Michael Polite Coffie faces former WBC Heavyweight Title challenger Gerald Washington. Coffie is in the proving stages of his career after getting a late start to professional boxing in his thirties. He has amassed a record of 12-0 with nine knockouts and has remained active during the pandemic having entered the ring four times since early 2020. He is on a four fight knockout streak and has not been past the sixth round despite being scheduled in an eight rounder and a ten rounder. So far his best wins are the longtime journeyman Joey Abell 35-11 and undefeated US amateur stand out Darmani Rock 17-1. At 6’5″ and weighing anywhere from 267 to 282 pounds he is a big heavyweight and has shown power thus far in his career. Gerald Washington was once a rising undefeated contender who like Coffie was a late starter. The highpoint of his career came in 2017 at 18-0-1 when he faced 37-0 Deontay Wilder for the WBC Title and had a good account of himself. Two judges had the fight even after four rounds and many observers felt he was ahead before getting caught and stopped in the fifth round.
Since the defeat things got dicey for Washington who has a record of 2-3 with all three losses coming by knockout and he missed most of 2020. His last fight was a brutal knockout loss to Charles Martin on the undercard of Wilder vs Fury II back in February. Prior to that he was worn down and stopped by both Adam Kownacki and Jarrell Miller but did have a dramatic KO win over the usually durable Robert Helenius. For Washington this might be his last chance to compete in a big fight. At thirty-nine years-old he is being brought in as the opponent for a hardly proven prospect looking to build a name for himself. Washington is not ranked in any of the major sanctioning bodies so a loss here would take him well out of contention. Coffie is thirty-five and looking to make his splash on the heavyweight scene. Ranked 11th by the WBA he is risking his ranking but is facing the biggest “name of his career”. At his age and not being highly ranked a loss here would be very costly in his journey toward the top of the division. With the major title belts being held by two men, Tyson Fury and Anthony Joshua, it is not likely that the title fights will be available soon. Fury is set to face Wilder for a third time and will either be mandated to face WBC number one contender Dillian Whyte or fight a unification fight with Anthony Joshua that will likely include a rematch clause. Anthony Joshua is likely to face Oleksandr Usyk who holds the number one ranking in the WBO. Right now the contenders in the division will likely have to thin the herd by facing each other as the big fight will not be available until 2022.
On the undercard 8-1 Vito Mielnicki looks to avenge his first loss as a professional in an immediate rematch against 7-2 James Martin. Mielnicki a New Jersey native and decorated amateur turned pro at eighteen years old and has been gaining lots of attention on PBC including many appearances on their podcast platform. He was upset back in April in a close majority decision loss where he was out jabbed and bled from his nose throughout most of the contest. Mielnicki opened the fight passively and James remained confident and outworked the younger fighter. Mielnicki began to turn it up in the sixth round but was met with a very active Martin in the seventh. Mielnicki had moments in the fight but lost a close decision. “No Games” James Martin is young himself at just twenty-four and is a second generation Philadelphia fighter. Prior to this big win he had a six round decision loss to prospect Xander Zayas and a decision loss to a 4-5 fighter. He also has no knockouts as a professional and has tasted the canvas in his career. I like seeing young fighters go out and attempt to avenge losses. In Mielnicki’s case it was not a bad loss and he made adjustments but going 0-2 to Martin would be a significant setback in his career. Their first fight was very entertaining and a rematch should bring some adjustments.
Also on the under card is undefeated prospect Joey Spencer of Michigan. At 12-0 with nine knockouts Spencer has been awarded PBC’s prospect of the year twice and was a decorated amateur with national titles and a 90-10 record. So far he has been a sharp counter puncher and defensively savvy but had a very difficult fight with 5-2 Akeem Black in 2019 winning a hard fought unanimous decision that was closer than the scores would portray. I try not to grade fighters that young from one tough fight but I saw some flaws. In subsequent fights it appears he has addressed these issues but does leave his left hand dangerously low. I know slick fighters can get away with it and he has fast hands but it led to him eating a few nasty right hands in the Akeem Black fight. Against a more dangerous puncher this could be a much bigger problem. He faces 9-4 Pennsylvanian Dan Karpency who is a durable professional fighter at thirty years old. He has never been knocked out but has not knocked out any fighters with a winning record besides a 1-0 fighter. Dan comes from a family of fighters which includes two time light heavyweight title contender Tommy Karpency who also holds a victory over former champion Chad Dawson. I expect Karpency to take Spencer the distance and give the young prospect some experience but favor Spencer to win comfortably.