By Anthony “Zute” George – The heavyweight division is a bit crowded right now. First, you have your stars at the top, Fury, Wilder, and Joshua, trying to figure it all out. Next, you have the contenders who want to get at them right now, Ruiz Jr., Whyte, Parker, Ortiz, and Usyk. After that, you have a decent trough of guys who can be right there with a big win; think Adam Kownacki, Michael Hunter, Joe Joyce, Carlos Takam, Robert Helenius. Right after that, we have an excellent crop of young fighters who want to climb that mountain. Frank Sanchez and Efe Ajagba are supposed to be fighting each other in October. An intriguing fight between two young guns. Top Rank Boxing also has Jared Anderson, a young man who appears to have a treasure trove of skills, as well as appeal. Anyone who says the heavyweight division is dead is just not paying attention.
The cast of heavyweights does not stop there. Indeed, the division is loaded with a cast of hungry pugilists that were not even mentioned.
Then there is Michael Polite Coffie (12-0, 9 KO’s). It is unclear where he fits in the heavyweight division right now. Still, he is headlining a big card on July 31st at the Prudential Center in Newark, New Jersey.
Coffie has some intriguing check marks in his column. He is born in the Bronx (No, I am not saying that just because I am a Bronx native), he is a Marine, and Michael Polite Coffie is an extremely late bloomer in boxing. He did not lace up the boxing gloves until the age of 29; he is now 35. Such elements make him marketable. Indeed, none of this matters if Coffie cannot fight and he has a critical litmus test coming up.
The Bronx-Born Marine squares off against Gerald Washington (20-4-1, 13 KO’s). A strong trial horse who will be looking for his own glory come July 31st. Indeed, Washington is an opponent. A foe Coffie is supposed to beat. However, to think Washington poses no threat is fools gold. Gerald’s level of competition is exponentially superior. El Gallo Negro has seen them all, and he has been victorious in some of these affairs. He holds wins against Nagy Aguilera, Jerry Forrest, Eddie Chambers, and Robert Helenius. He also fought Amir Mansour to a ten-round draw.
If you peel the onion on this match, you can make two statements that make this a tough test for Coffie. First, there is nothing he is going to come with that Washington has not seen before. Second, you must be a real guy to get Washington out of there-he has only been stopped by Wilder (the first to do so), Big Baby Miller (who knows with the PEDs), Kownacki, and Charles Martin.
We are going to find out how real Michael Coffie is this Summer.
Washington will just be the beginning. Early returns suggest he presents with much more experience than he actually has, even against minimal competition that should be obvious. The unknown factor is how he responds when a real guy comes at him with his own bag of tricks.
Coffie’s prowess as a ticket seller will also be on the line as he and Washington are leading the cast to the return of boxing in New Jersey’s Prudential Center. An excellent venue for the sweet science. Interest in Coffie will determine how many people show up.
The rest of the card has not been entirely fleshed out yet. Joey Spencer, an undefeated middleweight with star potential, will also be part of boxing’s return to Newark, but not much else has been announced. Still, make no mistake about it, the heavyweights will drive this card, and Michael Polite Coffie will find himself in a position that he has not been in before. While the marines have prepared Michael for the roller coaster of life, there is no ride quite like the expedition boxing provides.
How will he perform?