Ringside Coverage of Fox Sports from Prudential Center Newark, New Jersey

By: Lou McLaughlin and Darren Marino from ringside: On July 31, 2021 boxing has made its comeback after the pandemic shutdown indoor sports gatherings in March 2020. Three of the bouts were televised by Fox Sports. In attendance was former heavyweight champ Lennox Lewis and Joe Goosen as broadcasters.

Of the pre television bouts, the evening’s show began with a 4 round super featherweight bout featuring southpaw Lightweight Malik “The Natural” Nelson-with 19 amateur bouts weighing in at 129.8 lbs. making his pro debut in a 4 rounder against 134.5 lbs.  Alejandro Ramirez 0-2-0 of Denver CO. Within the first minute of round one Ramirez was down from a flash knockdown from a counter punch right cross. Ramirez was in retreat and suffered a second knockdown. With a third knockdown at the end of the round. These bouts did not have a 3-knockdown rule as Las Vegas, so the fight continued into the second. Nelson showed good boxing skills in his pro debut. But has one flaw to work on that being dropping his hands after throwing combinations. The second round had Ramirez fighting out of a crouch hands held high. A straight left staggered Ramirez and he seemed gassed offering little offensive. The third round opened with Ramirez opening aggressively with a body attack but returning to his crouch and cover stance absorbing punishment. He simply could not figure out Nelson’s southpaw stance absorbing left hooks to the body and head. At the end of the round the ringside physician went to Ramirez’s corner to see if he could continue. In the fourth Nelson sensing the end was near bombarded Ramirez and the referee stopped the fight at the 34 second mark for a TKO. Malik Nelson now is in the pro ranks 1-0 (1 KO).  

In a 4 round super welterweight tiff of local jersey guys previously undefeated Nick “The Bull” Vitone 4-1-1 (4 KO’s) of Pine Brook, N.J. took on Jersey City’s Jordan Rosario 4-10-0 (0 KO’s). The first round opened at a fast pace with Vitone forcing Rosario to back up. Vitone demonstrated good defensive skills covering well in exchanges. Rosario was endeavoring to press the action. First round was a very close round. Rosario’s movement seemed to surprise Vitone. The second round had Rosario stagger Vitone. Vitone came back throwing wild overhand rights hoping to continue his knockout streak. He was catching Rosario with rights as the bell rang ending round two. Rosario opened the third aggressively showing good foot movement and using his jab to keep Vitone at bay. This round was for Rosario. The fourth and final round had both fighters come out aggressively knowing this fight was close. Vitone showboated winding up a bolo punch playing to the fans and judges. Rosario still showed excellent ring generalship with fast foot work and tying up Vitone as he tried to finish the show. The fight ended Vitone’s knockout streak and unblemished record. One judge scoring for Vitone 39-37 and the other two judges 37-39 Rosario giving him the win by majority decision.

six-rounds Welterweight Michael “Slick” Anderson 21-3-1 (15 KO’s) fighting out of: Newark, New Jersey vs. Tennessee’s DeMarcus Rogers 14-4-1 (5 KOs). Anderson weighed in at 146.5 lbs. and Rogers came in at 147.9 lbs. The first round opened with the taller and longer reached Anderson jabbing Rogers in a feeling out start to the fight. Rogers tried to stay out of range. Anderson could have employed his jab more effectively to keep Rogers off balance. The round ends with Rogers vigorously trying to get inside and offer some offense. The fight ended unexpectedly when Rogers was unable to come out for the second round due to a hand injury with the fight going to Anderson via TKO and the end of the first. 

The televised portion of the card began with a  8 round middleweight contest  Joey Spencer 13-0-0 (9 KO’s) of Linden, Michigan at 156.5 lbs. vs .James Martin at 151.5 lbs. 6-3-0 out of Philadelphia, PA. Martin was originally slated to fight Vito Mielnicki in the televised semi-main event but failed to make the contracted 147 lbs. weight.

The first round was a feeling out round in which neither man established dominance nor threw many punches. Martin opened the second stanza showing quicker hands with Spencer waiting to counter punch. Both men clinched a bit in this round. There was better activity from Spencer who was content to counter effectively. The third round did not have much activity. Spencer content to counter punch backing Martin up. Martin seemed more tentative as Spencer held hands low hoping to draw him in. An uneventful fourth round began with Spencer holding left low by his waist and right-hand cocked waiting to counter but nothing coming forward from Martin. Spencer was talking to Martin hoping to stir up more activity. The fifth had Spencer again with his left low and very nimble footed. Spencer really needed to open up and force the action. The sixth round was more of the same with the action non-conclusive. The seventh was more up tempo with Spencer driving Martin back with combinations. But mid round returned to the waiting game. In the final round Martin showed more aggressive activity. However, Spencer showed better technique. The fight ended in a unanimous decision for Spencer with scores of 79-73 on two judges’ scorecards and one 80-72.

For the welterweight semi main event 19-year-old Vito Mielnicki 147 lbs. now 9-1-0 took on late substitute Noah Kidd of Kansas Mo. 144.6 lbs. 6-4-2 in front of a very partisan pro Mielnicki audience. Young Vito opened jabbing fast throwing nice left right combinations. He demonstrated good defensive skills ducking under Kidd’s overhand rights. Both guys came out willing to throw punches. Midway in the round Mielnicki caught his foe with a right knocking him down for a standing 8 count. causing his multitude of fans to erupt with cheers for the hometown favorite. The round finished with Mielnicki pounding Kidd at will. There was a second knockdown with Kidd claiming a low blow. After a minute he returned to action.

In the second round Mielnicki forced Kidd into a corner continuing his onslaught. At the 2:20 mark the referee had seen enough and stopped the fight awarding Mielnicki a TKO victory. In interviewing Vito, he indicated his extreme disappointment with James Martin not making weight. Mielnicki had so wanted to avenge his only loss as a pro. He indicated that by being with Al Haymon he will move on and up and has no desire to give Martin another chance. As at this stage Mielnicki is the “A” side of any fight. And a re-match only rewards Martin with a good paycheck. His failure to make weight was a grand lost opportunity. Kudos to Noah Kidd for stepping in on short notice and saving the semi-main event.

The main event saw an unexpected upset. Previously undefeated   35-year-old Heavyweight Michael “Polite” Coffie 12-1 (9 KO’s) vs. substitute Jonathan Rice 14-6-1, (10 KOs).  Coffie was originally to fight Gerald “El Gallo Negro” Washington. However, a positive test for Covid forced his withdrawal. Coffie weighed in at 271.3 lbs. and Rice at 268.6 lbs. The first round was a feeling out round with Coffie seeming to want to see what Rice had to offer. Not much action in this round. The second showed more activity as the taller longer reached Rice moved forward stalking Coffie catching him with some nice shots. The third again had Rice pushing the action and Coffie not letting his hands go. I noticed that between rounds Rice got off his stool early, so stamina was not an issue for him. In the fourth Coffie tried to pick up the pace but gets staggered by combos from Rice. At the end of the round Rice was catching Coffie with hard shots to the head. The fifth began with Coffie trying to be more forceful but a right upper cut from Rice put him to the ropes where he was absorbing punishment and the referee choose to stop the contest at the 2:19 mark awarding the fight by TKO to Jonathon Rice. Rice also deserves commendation for taking the fight on short notice and upsetting the favored Coffie.

The crowd enjoyed the fights. It was nice to see things returning to normal after the long shut down from the pandemic.