By Milo Taibi
Native New Yorker and former US Marine Michael Polite-Coffie finds himself in an enviable position. At 35, he doesn’t appear to have a defined ceiling in boxing’s loaded- and lucrative- heavyweight division.
A member of Marshall Kaufman’s King's Promotions, the former NY Golden Gloves competitor has made the most of his recent appearances on Premier Boxing Champions. A five-round beatdown of Luis Eduardo Pena cemented Coffie’s arrival on the televised boxing scene. Michael followed this appearance with an injury TKO of the grizzled Joey “Minnesota Ice” Abell.
In February of this year, Coffie made easy work of undefeated Philadelphia heavy Darmani Rock, despite entering the bout entrenched as an underdog. Following the banner victory, Coffie had already strategized his next move.
“I’d like to test myself against guys like a Gerald Washington, a Dominic Breazeale, a Charles Martin,” Coffie told Keith Idec of Boxing Scene. “I’d like to test myself against those kind of opponents. That would show me if I’m ready for the next step, which would be guys for the belt.”
On Saturday July 31st, Coffie’s wish will be granted in the form of an all-military clash with Gerald Washington. A veteran of the US Navy and former professional football player, Washington brings a wealth of in-ring experience despite entering the sport at a late age.
The 25-time competitor has faced division stalwarts such as Deontay Wilder, Jarrell “Big Baby” Miller and Adam Kownacki. While he’s had more defeats than successes when stepping up in class, Gerald boasts a July 2019 KO8 of Robert Helenius. It’s a stoppage that’s aged like a fine wine, as the Swede went on to score an "Upset Of The Year" contender of Adam Kownacki in March of 2020.
While Washington and Coffie are comparable in age, the former has considerably more miles on the boxing odometer. Coffie is undefeated through 12 bouts, while “El Gallo Negro” has been stopped four times...all from 2017-onward. Most recently, Washington turned in a sluggish performance against the tricky and hard-hitting southpaw Charles Martin.
Despite this, if Washington turns up in tip-top shape, he’ll be far and away the biggest test of Coffie’s young professional career. And perhaps after a right hand or two land, Coffie will wish his call-out had been answered by Martin or Dominic Breazeale.
Elsewhere on the undercard, New Jersey prospect Vito Mielnicki Jr. will have his shot at redemption against Philly’s James Martin. In April, the 18-to-1 underdog Martin decisioned Mielnicki Jr. in stunning fashion on a televised card.
PBC prospect Joey Spencer will also be in action, taking on the 13-fight veteran Dan Karpency. Spencer, coming off a KO1 of Isiah Seldon, will no doubt look to be the first to finish Karpency.
Editor's Note: Michael Polite-Coffie will now face Jonathan Rice (13-6-1, 9 KOs) in the main event of Saturday's PBC boxing card. Gerald Washington was forced to withdraw from this fight after contracting COVID-19.