Ortiz-Martin headline FOX PPV on New Year’s Day

The new year will kick off with a heavyweight bang, as five exciting heavyweight matchups take center stage on a jam-packed FOX Sports PBC Pay-Per-View on New Year’s Day live from Hard Rock Live at Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Hollywood, Florida.

The main event will see top heavyweight Luis “King Kong” Ortiz take on former world champion Charles Martin in a 12-round IBF Heavyweight Title Eliminator. In the co-main event, unbeaten rising heavyweight star Frank “The Cuban Flash” Sanchez will square off against Puerto Rican Olympian Carlos Negron in a 10-round attraction.

The pay-per-view telecast begins at 8 p.m. ET/5 p.m. PT and will also see heavyweight contenders Jonnie Rice and Michael Coffie battle in a 10-round rematch, former title challenger Gerald “El Gallo Negro” Washington in a 10-round showdown against Turkish Olympian Ali Eren Demirezen and unbeaten Viktor Faust facing Iago Kiladze in a 10-round attraction to open the pay-per-view.

With exceptional power and sublime technical skills, Ortiz (32-2, 27 KOs) has been a fixture atop heavyweight rankings for years, with his only defeats coming in memorable contests against former longtime heavyweight champion Deontay Wilder. Born in Camaguey, Cuba and trained by longtime coach Herman Caicedo in Miami, Ortiz won three bouts between Wilder contests, defeating Travis Kauffman, Christian Hammer and Razvan Cojanu. Prior to that run, Ortiz picked up victories over the likes of Bryant Jennings, Tony Thompson and Malik Scott to build up his heavyweight resume. Most recently, Ortiz blasted out Alexander Flores in the first round of their November 2020 bout.

“I can’t wait to give my fans in South Florida a great show on New Year’s Day and earn another shot at the heavyweight title,” said Ortiz. “Charles Martin is a good fighter, but he’s standing in my way. The only thing on my mind is getting in the ring and making a big statement in this fight to show again why I’m feared by the heavyweight division.”

The 35-year-old Martin (28-2-1, 25 KOs) became heavyweight champion in January 2016 when he won by TKO against then unbeaten Vyacheslav Glazkov. After losing his title to Anthony Joshua, Martin has won five of his last six fights, with all of his wins coming inside the distance. Originally from St. Louis, now living in Las Vegas and currently training in Southern California with Manny Robles, Martin bounced back from a narrow decision defeat to Adam Kownacki in 2018 to earn three-straight victories, including most recently knocking out Gerald Washington in February 2020.

“Nobody wants to fight me and nobody wants to fight Ortiz, so we’ll fight each other,” said Martin. “I’m going to show the world on January 1 why I deserve a title shot. I’ve paid my dues and I want my belt back. Beating Ortiz is going to get me one step closer to that goal. In order to become two-time heavyweight champion, I have to get past Ortiz first, so that’s exactly what I’m going to do.”

An amateur standout from his native Cuba, Sánchez (19-0, 13 KOs) now trains in San Diego with top trainer Eddy Reynoso. The 29-year-old has stayed busy on his rise up the heavyweight rankings, scoring three victories in 2020 as he earned a unanimous decision over Joey Dawejko and stopped Brian Howard and Julian Fernandez. Sanchez most recently scored a career-best win in October, dropping previously unbeaten Efe Ajagba on his way to a unanimous decision victory.

“I’m happy to be back so soon after beating Agjaba, but the work is only beginning,” said Sanchez. “There’s much more to be done. I believe I will be the first heavyweight champion in Cuban history. Negron is a strong, dangerous opponent. I’ll have to be my best, but I’m confident that I will come out victorious. I believe in my team, and my team believes in me. We’ll start the New Year off getting to 20-0, remain busy and make a strong case for a world title by year’s end.”

The 2008 Puerto Rican Olympian Negron (25-3, 20 KOs) rides a five-fight winning streak into January 1, including four wins by stoppage. The 34-year-old bounced back from defeats to Dominic Breazeale and Brian Howard to put together his win streak, which includes a March 2020 knockout over previously unbeaten Robert Alfonso. Negron has fought professionally since 2009 and now lives in Miami where he trains alongside Luis Ortiz.

“This is a great opportunity for me to get a win over a strong up-and-coming fighter and show everyone what I’m capable of,” said Negron. “I’m training hard and I’ve had great sparring in order to be ready for anything that Sanchez is going to bring. My experience and preparation are going to be the difference. I’m extremely motivated to give the fans a great fight and put myself in position to get a world title opportunity.”

Born in South Carolina and now fighting out of Los Angeles, Rice (14-6-1, 10 KOs) will look to repeat a career-best performance in the rematch against Coffie, after he stopped the previously unbeaten fighter in the fifth-round in July. Rice won six of seven fights from 2018 through 2019  before a pair of losses in 2020 against then unbeatens Efe Ajagba and Demsey McKean. In a pro career that dates back to 2014, the blemishes on Rice’s records have all come against previously unbeaten fighters.

“In my last fight against Coffie, I went in there to prove myself and do what I had been training to do,” said Rice. “It was sink or swim, and I came out on top. Now I have to go out there on January 1 and show that it wasn’t a fluke. This is a great stage for me to display my talents and prove that I’m capable of big things. I’m looking to give the fans a great performance and I know that Coffie is doing the same. Don’t miss this fight.”

Coffie (12-1, 9 KOs) hopes to bounce back from his first career defeat after dropping the first matchup against Rice in July. A Marine Corps veteran who picked up boxing after returning from overseas, Coffie quickly impressed in amateur tournaments enough to earn sparring assignments with Deontay Wilder and Adam Kownacki. He was born in the Bronx, but now trains in Orlando, Florida and broke through in 2020 with three dominating stoppage victories, including knockouts over previously unbeaten opponents Darmani Rock and Luis Pena.

“I want to get it back and make it an actual fight this time against Jonny Rice,” said Coffie. “Last time, I was in a position where I faced some adversity, and I had to make a decision to go through with the fight. I know that I can fight through adversity, and on January 1, I will be ready for whatever way the fight goes. On January 1, there will be a fight.”

Washington (20-4-1, 13 KOs) is a six-foot-six heavyweight contender who was a former college football standout at the University of Southern California and a U.S. Navy veteran. Born in San Jose, California, Washington most recently lost a contest against former heavyweight champion Charles Martin in February 2020. Prior to that fight, Washington had delivered a knockout of veteran contender Robert Helenius in July 2019. Washington was unbeaten in his first 19 pro fights before dropping his world title challenge to Deontay Wilder in February 2017.

“I’m looking forward to stepping back in the ring on January 1,” said Washington. “I’m ready to go to work and get myself back in position for some big time fights. My experience is going to be the difference in this fight. It’s going to be a great night of heavyweight action!”

A 2016 Olympian for Turkey, Demirezen (14-1, 11 KOs) has fought out of Hamburg, Germany in the professional ranks since turning pro in late 2016. The 31-year-old won his first 11 pro fights, including a second round stoppage of Rad Rashid to capture a European heavyweight title in 2018. Demirezen made his only other U.S. start in 2019, when he became the first person to go the distance against Efe Ajagba, losing by decision. Since that defeat, Demirezen has scored three-straight victories, most recently stopping Nikola Milacic in March.

“I learned a lot from my loss to Ajagba and I’m looking forward to getting another chance to box in the U.S.,” said Demirezen. “I’m still angry about the Ajagba fight, because I know that I could have won. I want to show now that I belong on this stage. I’m proud to be in this position to show what I can do and I’m going to make the most of the opportunity.”

The 29-year-old Faust (8-0, 6 KOs) turned pro in February 2020 after an extensive amateur career fighting out of his native Svitlovodsk, Ukraine. Faust knocked out his first four opponents, before winning dominant six and eight round decisions. After a first round knockout over previously unbeaten Jacek Piatek in May, Faust made his U.S. debut in October, dropping Mike Marshall twice on his way to a third-round TKO victory.

“I’m really excited to be back fighting in the U.S. again on January 1,” said Faust. “I’ve been welcomed warmly and fighting stateside already feels like my living room. I love the atmosphere. This is a great chance to show myself on this pay-per-view show against a very high-quality opponent. I won’t disappoint fans when I step into the ring.”

Kiladze (27-5-1, 19 KOs) returned to the win column in September, with a knockout victory over Mathew McKinney. Since he began fighting stateside full time in 2017, Kiladze’s losses have come against top heavyweights Adam Kownacki, Michael Hunter, Efe Ajagba and Joe Joyce, who sported a combined 45-1 record heading into their matchups against Kiladze. Originally from Georgia and now fighting out of Los Angeles, Kiladze owns a 2019 draw against then unbeaten Robert Alfonso and won six straight fights between 2014 and 2018.

Jonnie Rice on win over Coffie: ‘I had to fight a little bit like Deontay Wilder’

Heavyweight Jonnie Rice (14-6-1, 10 KOs) got a big opportunity at Prudential Center in Newark, New Jersey, when he stepped in for Gerald Washington(COVID-19) to score a technical knockout over previously unbeaten Michael Coffie (12-1, 9 KOs) in the main event on Saturday night(FOX).

Referee Eric Dali called a stop to the action at the 2:19 mark of the fifth round after Rice was tagging Coffie in the corner.

Rice had lost two straight fights before battling Coffie on Saturday night, including a unanimous decision loss to Efe Ajagba last September, but he fought inspired against Coffie and dominated the fight from start to finish.

While Rice was a late replacement, according to him, he was ready.

“I wasn’t a late replacement,” Rice said. “I was waiting for an opportunity. We replaced someone, but we weren’t late. We were right on time. I was training every day. I was training with Michael Hunter. I did 20 rounds, 10 and 10, last Friday before I got the call. So when I got the call, I was ready.”

Rice was surprised by how Coffie fought. He expected Coffie to be more of the aggressor. However, it was the opposite. Rice was the one dictating things in the ring. In his mind, it was like Deontay Wilder versus Luis Ortiz, and he was Wilder.

“Honestly, I didn’t expect to overwhelm Coffie like that,” Rice said. “I knew Michael Coffie from his fights, but not because he had a great record but because he was a sparring partner for Deontay Wilder. In my head, I played the little game that I was Luis Ortiz’s sparring partner for his second fight against Wilder. So technically, it was Luis Ortiz’s vs. Deontay Wilder’s sparring partners. We’re going to see what happens. I was playing with that in my head. I had to fight a little bit like Deontay Wilder and then a little bit different.”

The 34-year-old did not call out anybody after the fight, but at this point, the goal for Rice is to be a world champion and make a bunch of money doing it.

“I want it all. I want what every boxer wants,” he said. “I want to be world champion. I understand that my record doesn’t say that, but I want the world to watch my progress. I’m not in the right mind to be calling people out. I’m just going to be ready for the opportunity, and when it comes, I’m going to answer the call. I’m going to get as much money for it as I can. And you know one thing, I’m going to put on a show.”

Coffie did not look good on Saturday night, but all the credit goes to Rice; he was well-prepared and fought a great fight. Now, maybe more significant opportunities are on the way.

Mielnicki dominates Kidd

In the co-main event on FOX, New Jersey native Vito Mielnicki Jr. (9-1, 6 KOs) knocked out Noah Kidd (6-4-2, 5 KOs) in the second round of their welterweight contest. Mielnicki scored a knockdown in the opening frame, causing the crowd at Prudential Center to erupt with cheers for the hometown favorite.

Mielnicki continued to batter Kidd in the second round, forcing Kidd to take a knee. Referee Eric Dali had seen enough at that point and stopped the action at the 2:32 mark of the second round.

“Kidd was fading fast,” said Mielnicki. “That’s why I started to pick up the pressure. He was starting to wilt. I learned in my past performance that when you have someone hurt you have to finish the job.”

Mielnicki was supposed to compete in a rematch against James Martin, but Martin missed weight. Kidd was originally scheduled to fight on the non-televised portion of the undercard, but filled in as Martin’s replacement against Mielnicki.

“There were no issues with the change of opponent,” added Mielnicki. “I trained for a more technical fighter. Kidd was more awkward than Martin. We got the job done in front of my hometown fans, so I’m happy.”

Having noticed the tremendous amount of support at Prudential Center, Mielnicki concluded, “This is my home and these are my people. Whenever we fight in Jersey this is where we’re doing it. I’m looking forward to many more fights here.”

Dirrell stops Brooker

In FS1 action, veteran contender and Olympic bronze medalist Andre Dirrell (28-3, 18 KOs) got a technical knockout win over Christopher Brooker (16-8, 6 KOs) in their light heavyweight bout. Referee Richard Gonzalez stopped the fight at the 2:58 mark of the third stanza.

The FS1 co-main event featured unbeaten heavyweight Norman Neely (9-0, 7 KOs) defeating Juan Torres (6-4-1, 3 KOs) by unanimous decision (60-54, 60-54, 60-52).

The FS1 opener showcased super lightweight contender Karl Dargan (20-1, 10 KOs) knocking out Ivan Delgado (13-4-2, 6 KOs). Referee Harvey Dock called a stop to the action at the 1:09 mark of the third round.

Photo/credit: Frank Micelotta/FOX

Coffie to now face Jonathan Rice after Washington withdraws after testing positive for COVID-19

Rising unbeaten heavyweight Michael Coffie will face Jonathan Rice in the main event of FOX PBC Fight Night and on FOX Deportes, this Saturday, July 31 from Prudential Center in Newark, New Jersey.

Coffie was originally scheduled to face former title challenger Gerald Washington, who was forced to withdraw after a positive COVID-19 test.

The FOX broadcast begins at 8 p.m. ET/5 p.m. PT and will also see James Martin battle welterweight prospect and New Jersey-native Vito Mielnicki Jr. in an eight-round rematch in the co-main event and unbeaten prospect Joey Spencer take on Dan Karpency in an eight-round showdown.

At 10 p.m. ET/7 p.m. PT following the FOX broadcast will be FS1 PBC Fight Night topped by veteran contender and Olympic bronze medalist Andre Dirrell competing for the second time at light heavyweight as he faces Philadelphia’s Christopher Brooker in a 10-round fight. The FS1 telecast also features unbeaten featherweight prospect Maliek Montgomery dueling Ángel Contreras in a 10-round attraction and top welterweight prospect Paul Kroll squaring off against Justin DeLoach in a 10-round showdown.

The non-televised undercard will feature unbeaten Patterson, New Jersey-native Norman Neely (8-0, 7 KOs) in a six-round heavyweight attraction against Texas’ Juan Torres (6-3-1, 3 KOs), Philadelphia-born super lightweight contender Karl Dargan (19-1, 9 KOs) battling Los Angeles-native Ivan Delgado (13-3-2, 6 KOs) in an eight-round attraction, Maryland’s Keeshawn Williams (7-0-1, 2 KOs) taking on Missouri’s Noah Kidd (6-3-2, 5 KOs in a six-round welterweight tilt and Newark’s own Michael Anderson (20-3-1, 14 KOs) in a six-round welterweight bout facing Tennessee’s DeMarcus Rogers (14-3-1, 5 KOs).

Rounding out the night of action is Denville, New Jersey’s Nicky Vitone looking to remain unbeaten in a four-round welterweight fight against Jordan Rosario, unbeaten Philadelphia-born prospect Quadir Albright taking on Jared Tallent in a six-round super welterweight tilt and the pro debut of Avenel, New Jersey’s Malik Nelson in a four-round super featherweight duel versus Alejandro Ramirez.

A Marine Corps veteran who picked up boxing after returning from overseas, Coffie (12-0, 9 KOs) quickly impressed in amateur tournaments enough to earn sparring assignments with Deontay Wilder and Adam Kownacki. The 35-year-old was born in the Bronx, but now trains in Orlando, Florida. Coffie broke through in 2020 by stopping previously unbeaten Luis Pena in the fifth round of their August matchup before earning a TKO over Joey Abell in November. Coffie added a highlight-reel knockout over previously unbeaten Darmani Rock in January of this year.

Born in South Carolina and now fighting out of Los Angeles, Rice (13-6-1, 9 KOs) won six of seven fights from 2018 through 2019. The 34-year-old will look to bounce back from a pair of losses in 2020 against unbeatens Efe Ajagba and Demsey McKean. In a pro career that dates back to 2014, the blemishes on Rice’s records have all come against previously unbeaten fighters as he looks to offer a stiff test to the so far undefeated Coffie.

An accomplished veteran contender in the 168-pound division, Dirrell (34-2-1, 25 KOs) returns to the ring for the second time at light heavyweight after a successful debut in December 2021 in which he knocked out Juan Ubaldo Cabrera in round five. The Flint, Michigan native and brother of two-time champion Anthony, Dirrell won a bronze medal at the 2004 Olympics and lost narrow decisions in world title fights against Carl Froch and James DeGale. Dirrell will be opposed by the 30-year-old Philadelphia-native Brooker (16-7, 6 KOs), who has scored a pair of victories so far in 2021. Prior to those two triumphs, Brooker’s previous two outings saw him drop a June 2019 contest to Michael Seals and defeat Lanell Bellows in September 2018.

The 25-year-old Montgomery (10-0, 10 KOs) turned pro in 2017 after an impressive amateur career that included two national Golden Gloves titles and victories over recognizable names such as Edgar Berlanga, Keeshawn Williams and Joseph Adorno, to name a few. The Macon, Georgia born fighter has stopped all 10 of his opponents inside of the distance in his pro career to date. He will face the 27-year-old Contreras (10-4-2, 6 KOs), who most recently fought unbeaten prospect Jalan Walker to a draw in April. The Monterrey, Mexico native’s previous outing had seen him drop a narrow split-decision against super bantamweight contender Ramon Cardenas in February.

A decorated U.S. amateur from the fighter-rich city of Philadelphia, Kroll (8-0, 6 KOs) turned pro in August 2018 with a first-round stoppage of DeAngelo Alcorn. The 26-year-old ended his first four fights inside of two rounds before going the distance and beating then unbeaten Shinard Bunch in August 2019. Most recently, Kroll’s 2020 campaign saw him score a TKO victory over Marcel Rivers in January and a unanimous decision over Luke Santamaria on FS1 in October. He will be opposed by DeLoach (19-5, 10 KOs), who will look to return to the win column after dropping his last contest to unbeaten welterweight Eimantas Stanionis in November. The 27-year-old from Augusta, Georgia put together an impressive run in 2017, defeating three-straight unbeaten fighters in Dillon Cook, Junior Castillo and Domonique Dolton, before knocking out Christopher Pearson in 2017.

Photo: Sean Michael Ham/TGB Promotions

Coffie on fight with Washington: ‘I’m looking to make a big statement’

Unbeaten rising heavyweight Michael Coffie will look to continue his ascent up the heavyweight rankings when he takes on former title challenger Gerald “El Gallo Negro” Washington on Saturday, July 31 in the main event of FOX PBC Fight Night and on FOX Deportes from Prudential Center in Newark, New Jersey.

“I’m looking to make a big statement,” said Coffie. “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. “

In his last fight, Coffie scored an explosive knockout over previously unbeaten Darmani Rock live on FOX. The triumph was Coffie’s best win to date as a pro, a feat he will look to repeat as he steps up again against Washington.

“I showed in the Rock fight that regardless of the amount of years of experience that someone has over me, you can’t count me out,” said Coffie. “I definitely displayed poise and calmness and I’ve shown that I can put you down with any shot.”

Coffie has continued to train under the guidance of his head coach Josue Aguilar, as the two have put in the work in Orlando, Florida to continue to show improvement fight after fight. For this fight, Coffie has used some new techniques, combined with lessons learned from days sparring Deontay Wilder and Adam Kownacki, to hopefully put on his best performance to date.

“We’ve been working on strategy and how we’re going to expose Washington’s tendencies,” said Coffie. “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 35-year-old Coffie got a late start into the sport after serving in the U.S. Marines prior to a successful amateur career that saw him put on standout performances at the New York Golden Gloves and Metro Championships. Coffie believes that his unorthodox entry into the sport will actually be a benefit as his pro career continues to burgeon.

“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.”

As he enters this latest challenge, Coffie will look to take advantage of the opportunity headlining on FOX and deliver the fans a great fight in the style of some of the sport’s all-time greats.

“It’s still surreal to be in this position,” said Coffie. “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.”

Coffie-Washington, Mielnicki Jr.-Martin set for July 31 in Newark

Rising unbeaten heavyweight Michael Coffie will square off against former world title challenger Gerald “El Gallo Negro” Washington in the 12-round main event of FOX PBC Fight Night and on FOX Deportes Saturday, July 31 from Prudential Center in Newark, New Jersey.

Welterweight prospect and New Jersey-native Vito Mielnicki Jr. will battle James Martin in an eight-round rematch in the co-main event, as Mielnicki looks to avenge the first loss of his career. Kicking off the broadcast at 8 p.m. ET/5 p.m. PT, unbeaten prospect Joey Spencer takes on Dan Karpency in an eight-round battle.

A Marine Corps veteran who picked up boxing after returning from overseas, Coffie (12-0, 9 KOs) quickly impressed in amateur tournaments enough to earn sparring assignments with Deontay Wilder and Adam Kownacki. The 35-year-old was born in the Bronx, but now fights out of Brooklyn. Coffie broke through in 2020 by stopping previously unbeaten Luis Pena in the fifth round of their August matchup before earning a TKO over Joey Abell in November. Coffie added a highlight-reel knockout over previously unbeaten Darmani Rock in January of this year.

“This is going to be a really good fight,” said Coffie. “It’s a fight I need to get me moving in the right direction. I’ve been wanting to fight Washington for a while now. He’s only been beat by top level guys, and this is a way to prove that I belong in that class. It’s amazing to be headlining on FOX. This is a ‘no guts, no glory’ kind of fight. I have to take advantage of this opportunity in a step-up fight.”

Washington (20-4-1, 13 KOs) is a six-foot-six heavyweight contender who was a former college football standout at the University of Southern California and a U.S. Navy veteran. Born in San Jose, California, Washington most recently lost a contest against former heavyweight champion Charles Martin in February 2020. Prior to that fight, Washington had delivered a knockout of veteran contender Robert Helenius in July 2019. Washington was unbeaten in his first 19 pro fights before dropping his world title challenge to Deontay Wilder in February 2017.

“I’m real excited to be back in the ring and back on FOX,” said Washington. “This is another major opportunity for me and I’m going to do everything in my power to fully capitalize on it. Michael Coffie is a good fighter. I like what I’ve seen from him so far. Not to mention, we’re both veterans. I’m looking forward to this fight and I expect fireworks. I believe my experience will carry me to victory. “

Representing Roseland, New Jersey, Mielnicki (8-1, 5 KOs) will look to bounce back after losing by decision to Martin in April on FOX. The 19-year-old began turning heads during an exceptional amateur career where he compiled a 147-22 record and was named the Most Outstanding Boxer of the 2011 Junior National Golden Gloves amongst many accolades before turning pro. Mielnicki was able to add four victories to his ledger in 2020 and he kicked off his 2021 campaign with a knockout of Noe Lopez in February on FOX.

“I believe everything happens for a reason and everyone has their own path,” said Mielnicki. “James Martin was the better man that night in our first fight, and I know what to expect from him come July 31. You won’t see a young prospect doing what I’m doing, making a rematch only four months after my first career loss, in my hometown and in front of my family and friends. Expect nothing but fireworks on July 31. I can’t wait to show the world why I’m different! Tune in and get your tickets now.”

The 24-year-old Martin (7-2) scored a career-best victory in upsetting the previously unbeaten Mielnicki in April. Martin first turned pro in 2017 and won his first four fights to begin his career. Fighting out of Philadelphia, Martin has won three of his last four showdowns dating back to late 2019, including dropping a decision to unbeaten prospect Xander Zayas in February.

“I am going for the knockout this time,” said Martin. “You will see me fight better. I feel I have the advantage, because I gave him his first loss, and he will always have that in the back of his head. I don’t think that he can bring anything different in the rematch.”

The 21-year-old Spencer (12-0, 9 KOs) turned pro in February 2017 and immediately caught the eye of fans and pundits with his combination of speed, power and athleticism. Following an impressive 2020 campaign which included a KO victory over Shawn West in August, the Linden, Michigan native kicked off 2021 with a first-round TKO over Isiah Seldon in January on FOX. Spencer will continue his march toward world title contention against Adah, Pennsylvania’s Karpency (9-3-1, 4 KOs).

“I can’t wait to get in the ring on July 31,” said Spencer. “I’m training hard to become the first person to knock out Karpency. I’m going to bring the fight for the fans like I always do and give everyone watching a great show.”

“I’m excited to fight one of boxing’s top prospects in Joey Spencer and I’m having a great training camp leading up to fight night,” said Karpency. “He’s an excellent fighter, but make no mistake, I’m coming to win on July 31. I’m a boxer-puncher and I can rely on either style. We’re going to adjust to what we see in the ring and take it from there. I’m grateful for this opportunity and I’m planning to make the most of it.”

Plant: ‘I feel like I’m the best super middleweight champion in the world’

 Undefeated IBF Super Middleweight World Champion Caleb “Sweethands” Plant successfully defended his title with a masterful unanimous decision victory over former champion Caleb “Golden” Truax in the main event of FOX PBC Fight Night on Saturday night from the Shrine Auditorium and Expo Hall in Los Angeles.

Using blazing hand speed, a stiff jab and punches from multiple angles, Plant battered Truax and kept him off balance over the course of the 12 rounds. It was a game effort from Truax, but Plant proved to be too much to handle. All three judges scored the bout in favor of Plant 120-108, a 12-round shutout.

Plant sought the knockout but hurt his left hand early in the fight, forcing him to be less aggressive and more hesitant on offense.

“I felt great. I dominated every round. I hardly got touched. He wasn’t giving me much either,’’ Plant said. “I felt like, early on, he was just looking to survive and move away. Then a third of the way into the fight, I hurt my hand. It’s kind of swollen. I felt something similar before. I’ve got to sit down and get it checked out but we’ll see. I don’t think it will hinder any upcoming fights.

“A champion can adjust to anything. It’s about staying focused, staying disciplined and sticking to the game plan. Maybe the injury hindered me here and there but I felt I used it well – I got a dominant victory, a shutout on all three cards.”

The 28-year-old Plant (21-0, 12 KOs) had scored back-to-back stoppage victories on FOX in his two title defenses, beating then undefeated Mike Lee in July 2019 before most recently turning away Germany’s Vincent Feigenbutz in a homecoming event last February in Nashville, Tennessee.

The victory over Truax (31-5-2, 19 KOs) was the third successful title defense for Plant, who captured the title in 2019 with a victory over Jose Uzcategui. Plant, who is from Nashville, Tennessee but now lives and trains in Las Vegas, was the underdog coming into the Uzcategui fight, before turning the tables with two early knockdowns on his way to a unanimous decision. There wasn’t nearly as much drama in the fight against Truax as Plant took control from start to finish, never allowing Truax to get into the fight in any measureable way.

“I wanted the stoppage. I’m a little disappointed that my hand got hurt early in the fight. But I feel like I put on a good performance,’’ Plant said. “I feel like I’m the best super middleweight champion in the world. I want to become the first undisputed super middleweight champion. I’m ready for whoever, whenever. You line ‘em up and I’ll knock ‘em down.”

For the 37-year-old Truax, the fight against Plant represented his last real chance to rejoin the world championship ranks. Truax had his championship-winning victory in December 2017 as he traveled to James DeGale’s native U.K. to wrest the title away from DeGale in one of the year’s biggest upsets. Truax, who fights out of Saint Michael, Minnesota, dropped a narrow decision to DeGale in their 2018 rematch. Plant never allowed him to get close to his championship belt.

“I’m a little disappointed. I wanted to put pressure on him and make it a dogfight, but he was elusive. He was able to escape out the back door. I wasn’t able to put a glove on him,” Truax said. “I knew he was going to be quick, but he was a little more elusive than I expected. It wasn’t a fast paced fight and credit to him for that. I wanted it to be a fast paced fight and put pressure on him, but he controlled the pace and he was very elusive.

“I was never buzzed or hurt. I felt like my conditioning was very good the whole fight. He just jabbed the heck out of me. I’m going to go home and talk to my family and see what the next step is. I still feel like I have something to offer the game.”

In a battle between young, undefeated heavyweights. Michael Coffie (12-0, 9 KOs) kept his record unblemished with a powerful third-round knockout victory over Darmani Rock (17-1, 12 KOs).

Coffie, a 34-year-old Marine Corps veteran from The Bronx, N.Y., took a couple of rounds to figure out Rock of Philadelphia. When he did, it was lights out for Rock. Coffie went to work in the third round, dropping Rock with a left uppercut. Rock was able to make it to his feet to beat the count of referee Jack Reiss. A few seconds later, Coffie clipped Rock again with a short left hook that sent him to the canvas a second time. Reiss waved off the action at 0:59 seconds of the round, giving Coffie the victory and handing the 24-year-old Rock the first loss of his professional career.

“He had quick hands we knew that, but timing beats speed,” Coffie said. “They said he shuffles his feet and drops his hands. They told me to wait for him to shuffle his feet and then drop that left hand on him.”

“I don’t want to sound like I’m jumping the gun or anything like that or downplaying the need for experience. But I don’t think I’m that far off. I think I have power, movement, and I think just my style of fighting that can really contend with anybody.”

Unbeaten super welterweight prospect Joey Spencer continued his fast rise up the ranks with an impressive first-round KO victory over Isiah Seldon (14-4-1, 5 KOs). In a bizarre sequence of events, the 20-year-old Spencer (12-0, 9 KOs) dropped Seldon with a hard right hand. Seldon rose at the count of eight. When action resumed, Seldon unleashed several punches to the back of Spencer’s head, prompting referee Jerry Cantu to deduct two points for the fouls. It didn’t take long for Spencer to bring a conclusion to matters. He landed another right hand that sent Seldon to the canvas again. This time Cantu didn’t bother counting, waving off the fight at 2:15 of the first round.

“I just knew that I was going to put hands on him, and that’s how I was going to retaliate. I definitely put in the back of my mind that maybe I’d punish him a little further if I would have gotten a chance. But I didn’t. The ref stopped him, and that’s the way it ended,’’ Spencer said. “My man strength is coming. I’m only 20. I turn 21 in March. I’m getting stronger and stronger. I’m getting a lot more confident because people aren’t able to take my punches in the same way.”

In other undercard action, Rances Barthelemy (28-1-1, 14 KOs) scored a unanimous 10-round decision over All Rivera (21-5, 18 KOs) in a super lightweight bout. Barthelemy, a two-division world champion from Cuba, put together a workmanlike performance against Rivera, who hails from Bobon, Philippines. The 34-year-old Barthelemy has won world titles at 130 and 135 pounds.

“After almost two years of being out of the ring, it was hard making sure we stuck to the game plan to make sure we didn’t get anxious or desperate,” Barthelemy said. “I felt we controlled the fight from start to finish and that’s exactly what we wanted to do. I’m looking at Alberto Puello next, going after that 140 WBA belt and hoping that sets us up for bigger opportunities before the end of the year.” 

Middleweights Brandyn Lynch (10-1-1, 8 KOs) and Mark Hernandez (14-4-2, 3 KOs) fought to an eight-round draw. In a light heavyweight bout, Atif Oberlton (1-0, 1 KO) pounded out a victory in his pro debut, stopping Nathan Sharp (4-3, 4 KOs) via TKO at 0:48 seconds of the third round.

Photo: Sean Michael Ham/TGB Promotions

Plant: ‘I’m on a mission to be the first undisputed super middleweight champion in boxing history’

Unbeaten IBF Super Middleweight World Champion Caleb “Sweethands” Plant will defend his title against former champion Caleb “Golden” Truax in the FOX PBC Fight Night main event and on FOX Deportes Saturday, January 30 from Shrine Auditorium and Expo Hall in Los Angeles.

A rising superstar who first captured his 168-pound world title in January 2019, Plant makes his third world title defense live in primetime once again as he is opposed by the crafty veteran Truax, whose own super middleweight glory came in 2017 when he traveled overseas to dethrone James DeGale for the IBF belt. In the co-feature Michael Coffie and Darmani Rock clash in a 10-round battle of unbeaten heavyweights. Super welterweight sensation Joey Spencer takes on Isiah Seldon in an eight rounder to open the telecast at 8 p.m. ET/5 p.m. PT.

The event will be promoted by TGB Promotions and Sweethands Promotions, in association with Warriors Boxing, and will take place without fans in attendance at the Shrine Auditorium and Expo Hall, an AEG venue, in downtown Los Angeles.

The 28-year-old Plant (20-0, 12 KOs) has scored back-to-back stoppage victories on FOX in his two title defenses, beating then undefeated Mike Lee in July 2019 before most recently turning away Germany’s Vincent Feigenbutz in a homecoming event last February in Nashville, Tennessee. The Ashland City native now lives and trains in Las Vegas and captured the title in a 2019 victory over Jose Uzcategui. Plant was the underdog coming into the Uzcategui fight, before turning the tables with two early knockdowns on his way to a unanimous decision. It was an emotional night for Plant, who had dedicated his championship victory to the memory of his late daughter Alia, who suffered from a rare disorder that caused seizures.

Truax, the highest-ranked IBF super middleweight contender, will be Plant’s second consecutive mandatory challenger as Feigenbutz was also the IBF mandatory challenger.

“I want to say I’m grateful to be making my 2021 debut on FOX.  On January 30th I’m facing Caleb Truax who is going to be coming with everything he’s got, so I’ll be prepared to go to battle with everything that I got,’’ Plant said. “Everyone knows I’m on a mission to be the first undisputed super middleweight champion in boxing history. With that being said, fans can expect to see me at my absolute best.  This fight ends in a knockout.”

Truax (31-4-2, 19 KOs) became a real-life Cinderella Man with his world championship-winning victory in December 2017. Truax was a 50-1 underdog when he traveled to DeGale’s native U.K. and overcame the odds by wresting the title away in one of the year’s biggest upsets. Truax dropped a narrow decision to DeGale in their 2018 rematch. A former college football player fighting out of Saint Michael, Minnesota, Truax has faced an impressive lineup of super middleweights and middleweights throughout his career, including DeGale, Anthony Dirrell, Peter Quillin and Daniel Jacobs.

“I’m hungry and I’m treating this like my last opportunity to win my title back,” Truax said. “I’m going in as the underdog, but I’ve been in that position before and I’ve beaten the odds.”

A Marine Corps veteran who picked up boxing after returning from overseas, Coffie (11-0, 8 KOs) quickly impressed in amateur tournaments enough to earn sparring assignments with Deontay Wilder and Adam Kownacki. The 34-year-old was born in the Bronx, but now fights out of Brooklyn. Coffie most recently improved his unbeaten record with a TKO victory over hardnosed veteran Joey Abell on FOX on Nov. 11.

“I think this is going to be a really good fight.  We match up with our physical stature both height and weight. It should be a tough and gritty fight for the fans,” Coffie said. “My thought is that Rock is a good fighter. He has never been put in a position where he has had to dig deep. I feel like that I always have had to dig deep because I never had a huge amateur background.  Every fight I have had to will myself. A win will be another step closer to fighting the fights that people want to see.’’

The unbeaten Rock (17-0, 12 KOs) is a hard-hitting 24-year-old from Philadelphia who is establishing himself as a force in the heavyweight division as he climbs the ladder into contention. Rock will have to scrape off some ring rust when he steps in against Coffie. He didn’t fight at all last year. His last fight was a stoppage victory over Maurenzo Smith on Oct. 19, 2019.

“The layoff might have a little impact on me, but I don’t think it will be a big problem. I just got to do what I got to do,’’ Rock said. “I don’t really know much about him. I know he looks strong. The main thing I have to do is get the feel back and listen to my corner and my Pop and follow instruction and have fun. I’m glad this is on Jan. 30, because I want to be as busy as possible this year and make up for that year layoff that I had and stay in shape.’’

The 20-year-old Spencer (11-0, 8 KOs) has made fast strides since turning pro in February 2017. The Linden, Michigan native kicked off 2020 in January with a six-round decision victory over Erik Spring and returned with a KO victory over Shawn West in August on FOX. Those two wins built on an impressive four-win 2019.

“I’m super excited to get back in the ring and kickoff 2021 with an explosive performance for my fans,’’ Spencer said. “I’m having an incredible training camp and I’m in the best shape of my life.’’

Seldon (14-3-1, 5 KOs), the son of former heavyweight champion contender Bruce Seldon, got a late start to boxing, turning pro when he was 22 years old in Atlantic City, N.J. under the tutelage of Bill Johnson, the same man who trained his father. The 32-year-old Seldon of Somers Point, N.J. is coming off an impressive second round KO victory over Darryl Bunting last March.

“I am excited for the opportunity.  I have seen a lot of film on Spencer.  He is a very good fighter with an excellent amateur background,’’ Seldon said.  “I can’t wait until January 30th.  I have a lot of time to prepare and have had a great training camp with Danny Davis.  When this opportunity presented itself, I jumped on it, and I will put on a great performance on January 30th.”

Jamal James: ‘I would like to get a shot at Manny Pacquiao’

Top welterweight Jamal “Shango” James won an exciting unanimous decision over Thomas Dulorme to capture the Interim WBA Welterweight Title Saturday night in the main event of of FOX PBC Fight Night and on FOX Deportes, from the Microsoft Theater in Los Angeles.

“I’ve been working so long for a title shot,” said James. “So being able to get this opportunity and then actually following through and winning, it just meant the world to me. It’s been a crazy journey, with this with COVID-19, and then the George Floyd incident and starting camps and then stopping and so forth.

“My grandmother ended up passing away when I was in camp for this fight. So it was a lot of mixed emotions for me. It just feels good to be able to bring this back home for my city. Now we’ll see how much farther I can go.”

James (27-1, 12 KOs) and Dulorme (25-4-1, 16 KOs) began the fight showing different styles, with James circling and fighting off his jab, while Dulorme looked to navigate the space and hit James with short power hooks. In round three, the action stepped up a level, with James landing a series of big combinations while bleeding from the nose after taking a big right hand from Dulorme at the end of round two.

“I landed a good shot on him in the second round, but I couldn’t land it again,” said Dulorme. “I couldn’t get inside on him the way that I wanted to after that round, and that made it a tough fight.”

Both men had good moments when the fight went to round six, with each landing dangerous combinations. First Dulorme who appeared to hurt James with body punches early in the round before James returned with a series of sweeping hooks that connected unanswered on Dulorme. The power punches from James would prove to be a weapon throughout, as he connected on 156 compared to Dulorme’s 99, according to CompuBox.

“Dulorme brought the heat tonight,” said James. “I thought I was going to be able to move around a little bit more but he caught me with a couple of nice shots. He caught me with a good shot on the nose and it started leaking pretty bad. He’s a strong fighter, so I just had to be careful not to get hit too flush with anything. Luckily, I’m able to take a hard shot.

“I knew that he kind of gets tired in the later rounds from the fights that we watched. So, I was really just trying to let him throw, stop the shots, then maybe catch him with something in between his shots. I kind of wanted to rope a dope him a little bit. But he was in shape. He was pushing in those later rounds.”

When the fight neared the championship rounds, James’ sharpshooting kept him in control as he moved away from Dulorme’s inside attack and landed his own power punches from distance. Dulorme’s best offensive weapon was his bruising body attack, which saw him out land James 57 to 45 on body punches.

Dulorme’s left eye began to swell from the onslaught of straight right hands as round 11 neared a close. James remained effective through round 12, clinching the victory and winning the fight by scores of 117-111, 116-112 and 115-113. Both men were very active, each throwing over 770 punches, but it was James holding the advantage in both punches landed (204 to 115) and accuracy (26% to 15%).

“Obviously, I would like to get a shot at Manny Pacquiao, he’s got the WBA super title,” said James. “But I know he’s such a big name, so it really doesn’t matter. I want any of the big name welterweights, we can really put on a good show.”

In the co-main event, Cuban sensation David Morrell, Jr. (3-0, 2 KOs) captured the Interim WBA Super Middleweight Title with a unanimous decision win over previously unbeaten Lennox Allen (22-1-1, 14 KOs).

In just his third pro fight, Morrell went the distance for the first time and outworked his opponent through the middle and late rounds, on his way to a 207 to 90 advantage in punches landed. The early action saw Morrell establish his body attack, while Allen looked to setup big counter right hands that he threw often.

As the fight wore on, Morrell’s relentless attack wore down Allen, who seemed to lose some of the power on his punches that he needed to change the tide of the fight. Allen continued to push and tried to rough Morrell up on the inside to find a place for a counter and his own body attack.

Morell continued to put the pressure on in the closing frames, hurting Allen with power punches in both hands during round 10, although he was unable to score a knockdown. After the 12 rounds of action the judges all saw the bout in favor of the 22-year-old Morrell, by scores of 120-108, 119-109 and 118-110.

In a super lightweight special attraction on the FOX broadcast, rising prospect Omar Juarez (8-0, 4 KOs) remained undefeated with a unanimous decision against Willie Shaw (12-2, 8 KOs) after six rounds of action.

Juarez looked to stalk the evasive Shaw early, who moved around the ring seeking a counter opportunity against his aggressive opponent. Shaw had some success using his boxing skills, but as his movement decreased, Juarez was able to cut off the ring and land effectively.

After six rounds, Juarez was able to outland Shaw by a mark of 61 to 38, and his higher output and superior accuracy earned him the decision from the judges by the scores of 60-54, 59-55 and 58-56.

In the FS1 telecast that followed FOX PBC Fight Night, welterweight Luke Santamaria (11-1-1, 7 KOs) won a unanimous decision over Mykal Fox (22-2, 5 KOs) by scores of 99-90, 97-92 and 96-93 after 10 rounds. Plus, sensational 18-year-old prospect Vito Mielnicki Jr. (6-0, 4 KOs) scored a TKO victory over Chris Rollins (3-2, 2 KOs) 2:19 into the second round of their welterweight bout. The opening bout on FS1 saw Michael Coffie (10-0, 7 KOs) stop previously unbeaten Luis Pena (6-1, 6 KOs) 1:35 into the fifth round of their heavyweight tilt.

Photo: Sean Michael Ham/TGB Promotions