World-rated Michael Coffie hopes to be the next American to make moves on the heavyweight scene. 

WBA No.9 Coffie, a former sparring partner of Deontay Wilder and Adam Kownacki, faces veteran fringe contender Gerald Washington (20-4-1, 13 KOs) in a crossroads bout at the Prudential Center in Newark, New Jersey, on July 31, having scored three stoppage wins since the start of the Covid-19 Pandemic. 

“I’m looking to make a big statement,” said Brooklyn’s Coffie (12-0, 9 KOs), who is trained by Josue Aguilar in Orlando, Florida. “I want people to look at this fight and see my calmness. I want it to look like I’m the veteran and he’s the prospect. If he has belief in himself in the beginning of the fight, he’s going to start fast. It’s my job to take that away from him. 

“We’ve been working on strategy and how we’re going to expose Washington’s tendencies. We’ve been adding pool training and focusing a lot on breathing and explosiveness. I’ve been sparring with young, fast guys to work on my reflexes. I’m combining that with what I learned from Wilder and Kownacki, who really helped me with my range and distance, plus showing me the importance of conditioning.”

The 6 ft 5ins Coffie, 35, turned pro late after serving in the US Marines following a decorated amateur career, but feels his unorthodox route into boxing has left him fresher than many of his emerging, heavyweight rivals.

“The biggest obstacle I’ve faced as a pro has been that people keep talking about my age,” said Coffie. “That has nothing to do with your boxing ability. If you keep yourself in shape, age is not a big thing. I’ve taken less damage at this point than other people my age who’ve gotten to this point. I also have a strong mentality and I know when it’s time to lock in for a fight. Life experience in general has shown me what I can become.

“It’s still surreal to be in this position. When I decided to start boxing, I did not know that this would be happening so fast. I’m going to show the fans a piston jab. I want to give the feel of Sonny Liston, Larry Holmes and George Foreman. This is a combat sport, so expect blood and big shots on July 31.”