The heavyweight division, whether filled with a stellar champ to lead the pack and a bounty of solid contenders, or a crew of fair to middlin' pugilists, has always been the glamour division of boxing. When you ask any casual, nine times out of ten, what they know about the current scene, they’ll quite often mention a heavyweight of note, whether past or present.
On July 24, four heavyweight bouts are on the card in support of Tyson Fury vs Deontay Wilder III at T-Mobile in Las Vegas. The week after, the main event on a PBC card will feature, again, heavyweights. Michael Polite-Coffie (12-0), a 35 year old hitter born in The Bronx, meets 39 year old Gerald Washington (20-4-1), the underdog, is 2-4 in his last six outings.
Coffie is someone who started his career later than most everyone, but has made up for it by staying active. It bears asking, why did Coffie, who looked as good as we've seen in taking out then 17-0 Darmani Rock in January, get started so late? Because he served as an active duty member of the Marine Corps.
After turning pro Nov. 21, 2017 with a W over Ralph Alexander, Coffie stayed busy and started to gain attention by doing what fans love to see most: delivering knockouts. Nine of his 12 triumphs have come via stoppage. Coffie finished off Carlos Sandoval, Luis Eduardo Pena and then Joey Abell in 2020. Next, he was offered a step up fight against Rock, who'd been moved along super slowly by Roc Nation. Rock didn't glove up in 2020, and wanted to give his career a jolt of adrenaline by stepping up against Coffie under a Caleb Plant-Caleb Truax feature. The jolt came, but courtesy of Coffie, who switched righty to lefty and back again, dropped Rock in the second, and two times in the third, forcing the ref to call for a halt.
Knowing that this fight had mainstream media potential since it was between two undefeated heavyweights, Coffie looked forward to making the best out of this big opportunity. When asked if the fight played out as planned, he said, “It actually did come easier than anticipated.” Coffie continued. “I don’t know if he knew a lot about me, but I knew plenty about him. I knew he was a quick handed dude who knew how to move regardless of his physical appearance.”
Coffie continued to discuss the fight. “I knew I had to work his body in order to get a good shot up top. The knockout happened a lot sooner than I thought.” When watching the bout, you can tell that Coffie switching from southpaw to conventional was throwing Rock off his game plan. Coffie said Rock’s body language and how he reacted to certain punches tipped him off on how to close the show. When he made certain movements or went southpaw, he would hear Rock make a sound like “hmm,” like he was having a hard time deciphering a puzzle.
After the impressive knockout of Rock, Coffie started to see that his stock was climbing. His name started hitting the radar of boxing purists and media alike. “I noticed that in the public, they are actually bringing up these hypothetical matchups and saying their guy would knock me out, etc. These were conversations that were not being had a year ago.”
With his highlight reel knockout giving his profile a lift, Coffie got booked for a fight against Navy boxing veteran Gerald Washington. The 6’6 Washington has been in with some solid heavyweights and is considered a “gatekeeper” type.
When asked how this fight came about, Coffie said, “Honestly, it was my team’s doing as that was the main name I was targeting as a step up. I’m very excited about it.” The Marine veteran then added, “The only thing that would have made it better is if it was at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn.” But Newark, NJ isn't too far from Brooklyn. “The first thing I thought of was that it is 45 minutes from Brooklyn and the Bronx is right there. This is the first time as a main event and will be the first time my family and friends can come see me.”
Coffie is in the middle of training camp down in Florida and not in his hometown of New York. In discussing his move to Orlando, Michael said, “I was in New York before, but I always had the intention of moving to Orlando. The move was just more optimal for my pockets,” he said, chuckling. “Prior to me moving, I came down here to train for four days. The trainer took specific things and worked on those things for the four days.” After that, Coffie decided that it was best to move down to Orlando, and stick around.
Coffie did admit that the tedious things he was doing aren't for everyone. He understands that his time in the Marine Corps prepared him for these moments. “I don’t mind doing things over and over. One time I threw only a right hand for a solid hour to ensure it landed the way it should. The ability to do it without complaining definitely came from being in the Marine Corps.”
Getting back to the fight itself, on July 31st live on FOX, Coffie is looking to put on a show and had this to say for those that may not have seen him fight in the past. “Fans should expect fireworks, blood and an entertaining fight. Don’t expect to see rock’em sock’em. I like knockouts too, but I prefer to beat someone up to lead to the knockout. It's just more entertaining for me. By the way, you can follow me on twitter @MikeCoffieTime and on Instagram @mikecoffietime.”
My Three Cents
Michael Polite-Coffie is a heavyweight who asked for more risk in his fights, and his taking a step up against Rock paid off quite handsomely. Coffie knows that he is fighting Father Time but will try his best to make a run for the title. The first step is getting past Gerald Washington and looking good doing it. If I had to tap into my “Around the Curve” folder, I would say that he may get the winner of Helenius-Kownacki II. Just imagine how crazy the Barclays Center would be for a Coffie vs. Kownacki fight!
Tune into FOX on July 31st and see if Michael Polite-Coffie gives us another highlight reel knockout.