Team USA's Newest Boxing Star,
New Jersey Light Heavyweight Khalil Coe
A star was born last month at the 45th Chemistry Cup in
Halle, Germany, when American light heavyweight Khalil Coe
shocked the amateur boxing world, stopping Cuban's multiple
world champion Julio Cesar La Cruz in the opening round of
the championship final match.
Nearly 100 boxers represented 16 different countries at the
Chemistry Cup, including, Russia, Ukraine, Ireland, India
and host Germany, in addition to the United States and Cuba.
The 21-year-old Coe, who was boxing in only his 25th match,
his first on the International scene, stole the show and he
was named Most Outstanding Boxer of the tournament. In the
semifinals, Coe knocked out Matus Strnisko, of Slovakia, in
the first round.
Coe respected but he wasn't intimidated by his much more
experienced opponent, 2016 Olympic gold medalist and
four-time world champion La Cruz, who had one less fight in
the World Boxing Series than Cue did during his entire
"My first fight in the tournament was the hardest I'd had,"
Coe explained. "I studied him (La Cruz) a lot and watched
him fight in the semifinals (defeating three-time European
champion Joseph Ward (Ireland), which was right after my
semifinals fight. He (La Cruz) is very elusive and flashy,
but he doesn't like to get hit in the body. He moves his
body, but he forgets about his head. I pulled him, on him,
moving around with my footwork and shuffling. He threw a
lazy jab and I hit him right on the chin with a right."
Coe's short, compact right-hand punch landed right on the
button, dropping La Cruz a little less than two-minutes into
round one. The Cuban beat the count, but the referee ruled
that he was unable to continue. La Cruz was still "The Man"
in the light heavyweight division and by knocking him out,
Coe proved that he truly belongs with the elite, and that
the No. 1-rated American is the fighter to beat in terms of
qualifying for the 2020 U.S. Olympic Team.
"I let everybody know that I'm here," Coe added. "I still
need to work on a lot of different things. I need to throw
more combinations, keep by stamina up, and improve
everything to be better. I'm more of a pure boxer, but I
have strength and punching power. Coach (Billy) Walsh
doesn't change his fighters, he adds to what they have. The
coaches put together a fight plan and I executed it."
"Khalil's performances in Germany were world class," Team
USA head coach Walsh said, "To be truly world class, we now
have to repeat those performances regularly, and that's
where the challenge lies."
On this year's USA vs. Ireland Northeast Tour, Coe was 2-0
against his Irish counterparts in Boston and Springfield
Coe often got into fights in school, until his mother sent
him to a local gym, and his first amateur bout was when he
was 12. If he wasn't boxing right now, the 6' 1" Coe
believes he would probably be playing college football, as a
fullback or defensive end.
Close with his USA teammates, particularly Keyshawn Davis,
Coe lives and trains with them in Colorado Springs. "We're
more than a team," the Jersey City, New Jersey boxer
concluded, "we're like a family - guys, gals and coaches --
in Colorado Springs.
"I'm going to turn pro after the Olympics, one way or the
other, God-willing, after I win a gold medal."
Tokyo is legitimately in Khalil Coe's sights!