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Kelli Cofer
© Copyrighted photo taken by Jesus Sanchez


5'9" featherweght Kelli Cofer was born on March 4, 1978. She is trained by her  father, Jim Cofer, at his Golden Lotus Kickboxing and Martial Arts School in Willard, Ohio and by Mickey Scodova of Mansfield, Ohio (former WKA Super Middleweight Champion of the United States).

Her original interest in boxing was honed by the late Henry Russel when Kelli and her father went to him in preparation for their early kickboxing matches. Although she originally focused on kickboxing while in high school, she switched to boxing as she was not able to get bouts as consistently as a kickboxer and wanted to supplement her college income.

Early in her career, Cofer was a full-time engineering student who maintained a 4.0 GPA into her senior year. Her boxing training was very sporadic to accommodate her classes and was mostly done solo as she was too far from her trainers to get regular coaching.  Between November  1998 and March 2000, Cofer won Toughman contests in Mansfield, Toledo, and Marion, Ohio.

On April 8, 2000 at the Palladium in Worcester, Massachusetts: Kellie Morse of Massachusetts defeated Kelli by unanimous decision for the USKBA Female Welterweight World Championship in a ten-round bout with non-stop action that thrilled the audience.

Kelli made her po boxing debut on October 1, 2000 in Detroit, Michigan winning a four-round unanimous decision over Brenda Rodriguez of Michigan, who fell to 1-4 with the loss and has not fought since.

On May 11, 2001 at Gray's Armory in Cleveland, Ohio, Kelli (124 lbs) improved to 2-0 as a pro boxer with a four-round unanimous decision over Katherine Drotos (130 lbs) of Ann Arbor, Michigan, who fell to 3-1.

On July 20, 2001 at the Memorial Civic Center in Canton, Ohio, Kelli won a four-round unanimous (40-36,39-37,39-37) decision over Vikki Clardy (5'1") of Cincinnati, Ohio, who fell to 3-2. A ringside correspondent told me "Cofer went down at the end of the first round. The ref ruled it a slip. If it was a slip, it was assisted by a right hand. In the first, Cofer used her jab and reach to her advantage. landed a few punches, mostly jabs, and kept Clarity out of range. Clardy managed to get inside several times and landed some good overhand rights that caught Cofer's attention. In the second it was more of the same but Cofer seemed much more cautious after the 'slip'; she threw a lot of jabs to keep Clardy away, most of them fell short by six to eight inches. When Clardy would get inside she landed the harder shots and Cofer would tie her up and wait for the ref to break them and get her distance back. In the third, Clardy showed good head movement and avoided many of the jabs but didn't capitalize on making her opponent miss. For her to land she had to get much close with such a height/reach disparity. In the fourth, Clardy got more aggressive and definitely landed more and better shots. Cofer still used her jab and tied Clardy up when possible. Cofer threw a lot more punches, most effective with the jab but still missed many and didn't land many power shots."

On October 26, 2001 at Grays Armory in Cleveland, Ohio, Kelli (125 lbs) improved to 4-0 (1 KO) as she TKO'd Willicia Moorehead (135 lbs) of Milwaukee, Wisconsin in the third round of a scheduled four-rounder. The bout was competitive in the early rounds, but Moorehead went to the canvas twice in the third, "mostly from exhaustion" according to a correspondent. Moorehead fell to 2-8.

On February 22, 2002 at Jerome Schottenstein Center in Columbus, Ohio, Kelli (128 lbs) won an easy four-round unanimous decision over debut fighter Terri Blair (126½ lbs) of Louisville, Kentucky. Cofer kept the shorter Blair on the end of her jab throughout a fight that she dominated, moving her own pro record to 5-0-0 (1 KO).

On March 22, 2002 at Gray's Armory in Cleveland, Ohio, Kelli (126 lbs) improved to 6-0-0 (2 KO) with a TKO at 1:04 in the first over an overmatched Vanessa Garcia (120 lbs) of Milwaukee, Wisconsin, who fell to 0-2.

On May 3, 2002 at the Makoy Center in Hilliard, Ohio, Kelli (124 lbs) won by a TKO at 1:57 in the second round over debut fighter Tameka Smith (120½ lbs) of Cincinnatti, Ohio, who has not fought since.

On July 16, 2002 at Civic Center in Canton, Ohio, Kelli (121 lbs), by then the #22 ranked featherweight in my computer rankings battled then #6 ranked Junior Featherweight Mary Elizabeth Ortega (123½ lbs) of Kansas City to a four-round draw. Ortega kept pressure on the taller Cofer for much of the fight while Cofer boxed well from the outside and landed her straight left solidly in the latter half of the bout. Judge Mike Ancona scored the fight 39-37 for Cofer, Gary Merrit had it 39-37 for Ortega while Gayle Van Horn had the fight even at 38-38. Given the close scoring, it was unfortunate that the fight was shortened from the originally scheduled six rounds to just four. Ortega was 20-1-1 (5 KO) after this result.

On December 6, 2002 at Gund Arena in Cleveland, Ohio, Kelli (125½ lbs), now the #16 ranked featherweight, won a four-round unanimous decision over Julia Day (126½ lbs) of Georgetown, Kentucky. My correspondent wrote: "Cofer easily outclassed Day and used her reach and footwork to stymie Day. Day landed some good punches and tried to be the aggressor. She found Cofer's jab and straight left waiting for her. She did land some some jabs and good straight rights of her own but not often enough or hard enough to slow Cofer for more than a moment as she moved, reset and launched a counter. In the second round Cofer showed a new dimension to her arsenal as she attempted to leave her defensive counter-punching style and be aggressive. It paid off in the number of punches landed but she also let some of Day's punches through that would not normally have reached her. In the 3rd and 4th round Cofer's new found aggressiveness established itself and she had Day backing up for most of the rounds. When Day did move forward Cofer was able to meet the onslaught with her own or sidestep and launch her own attack. Day showed great heart and decent skills but one-dimensional. She is still very green and needs to shorten up her punches and work on head movement and foot work. Cofer's punches were crisp, straight and mostly inside of Day's and when she did side-step and move Day just followed her and never attempted to cut off the ring."

On January 31, 2003 at Schottenstein Center in Columbus, Ohio, Kelli, now ranked #16 at featherweight moved to 9-0-1 (3 KO) with a four-round majority decision over Terri Blair of Louisville, Kentucky who was now 2-3 (0 KO) after her second loss to Cofer.

On March 14, 2003 at Avalon Event Center in North Royalton, Ohio, Kelli (125½ lbs) won a second-round TKO over Willicia Moorehead (129½ lbs) of Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Cofer was now 10-0-1 (4 KO) while Moorehead fell to 2-12.

Kelli vs. Lisa Brown in July 2003
© Copyrighted photo taken by Brian Ackley

On July 11, 2003 at the Memorial Civic Center in Canton, Ohio, Kelli and #5 ranked bantamweight and IWBF Bantamweight champion Lisa Brown of Scarborough, Ontario, Canada both remained undefeated as they fought to a six-round draw in a junior featherweight contest. Cofer was now 10-0-2 (4 KO) while Brown was 8-0-1 (3 KO).  Brown had begun to fight as a featherweight because of difficulty getting opponents at bantamweight.  For more photos of this fight by Brian Ackley see Photo Gallery #82 on the WBAN Records Member Site.

On September 6, 2003 at Greensboro Coliseum, Greensboro, North Carolina, Kelli (127 lbs), now #10 ranked featherweight in my computer rankings, fought to a six-round majority draw with then #15 ranked featherweight Trisha Hill (128 lbs) of Kennesaw, Georgia. Cofer's record was now 10-0-3 (4 KO) while Hill was 6-3-1 (3 KO) as a pro boxer.

On October 11, 2003 in at Greensboro Coliseum, Greensboro, North Carolina, #3 ranked junior lightweight Melissa Del Valle of Miami, Florida won a six-round majority decision over Kelli, then the #8 ranked featherweight. Del Valle improved to 28-3-1 (11 KO) while Cofer fell to 10-1-3 (4 KO) with her first pro loss. (For MPEG video clips of this fight, see MPEG/Photo Gallery #157 on the WBAN Records Member Site.)

Kelli vs. Kelsey Jeffries n November 2003
© Copyrighted photo taken by Jesus Sanchez

On November 6, 2003 at HP Pavilion in San Jose, California, #3 ranked featherweight Kelsey Jeffries (5'5", 123¾ lbs) of Hollister, California won a ten-round unanimous (98-92,98-92,97-93) decision over Kelli (125½ lbs). Jeffries retained her IFBA Featherweight title with the win and advanced her pro record to 23-8-0 (1 KO) while Cofer slipped to 10-2-3 (4 KO). Cofer had a reach advantage and she tried to take the fight to Jeffries at first but Jeffries' speed and ring experience were the dominant factor as she counterpunched,  worked Cofer's body. “She didn’t run,” Jeffries said. “She started moving and hitting me real good. I started walking into stuff and then I started getting a little smart, stepping around, and going to her body.” After that Jeffries' speed and ring experience were the dominant factors as she worked Cofer's body, and committed a surprising number of fouls by grabbing Cofer behind the neck and hitting on the break. Jeffries went upstairs to land shots to Cofer’s nose and chin in the fifth and Cofer began to look hurt and tired for the first time. Cofer responded by holding Jeffries, but Jeffries began going upstairs with power shots to the head and won the fight going away in the later rounds as Cofer tired. (see WBAN Photo Gallery #119 on the WBAN Records Member Site ).

On June 25, 2004 at Knights of Columbus Hall in Garfield Heights, Ohio, Kelli (128 lbs) fought Terri Blair (134 lbs) to a four-round draw. Blair was now 5-5-1.

On June 18th, 2005 at Shaw Convention Centre in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, Lisa Brown (124 lbs) won a six-round unanimous (59-51,60-53,59-54) decision over Kelli (124 lbs). The bout was the co-main-event on Canada's first all-female boxing card. It was a crowd-pleaser loaded with fireworks. The shorter but stronger Brown rattled Cofer in the fifth round and had her on the edge the rest of the way. Brown kept up the pummeling in the sixth and final round, landing a barrage of straight lefts and hard uppercuts. Cofer was clubbed to the deck as the bell rang to end the fight and Brown was handed a one-sided decision. "I was surprised that she could keep taking the punches, but there was no way she could sustain herself against that kind of pressure," said Brown.  Lisa Brown was now (11-1-2).

On September 10, 2005  at the Casino Aztar in Evansville, Indiana, Kelli (127½ lbs) won a six-round unanimous (59-55,59-55,58-56) decision over Angel McNamara (130½ lbs) of Cambridge, Maryland in an eliminator for the WBC Featherweight title. A ringside observer told WBAN: "Both are used to fighting defensively and counter punching. Probably the first time each has fought someone their own height. Angel an inch or two taller. They both appeared to wait on the other for a short time and then Kelli took the fight to Angel and easily outscored her with her quick punching and footwork.  Angel would wait and then throw a quick flurry but was outpunched overall around three or four to one. Kelli landed several strong right hooks to the body and head and straight lefts to the body and head. Angel landed a few looping rights. Angel appeared to be in trouble at the end of the fifth when she almost came through the ropes in Kelli's corner. Wobbled by hooks a couple of times in a couple of rounds but recovered easily. Kelli never appeared to be in any trouble. Angel appeared the more tired of the two in the last two rounds." McNamara fell to 5-2-1 (2 KO's).

On October 1, 2005 at Nationwide Arena in Columbus, Ohio
Kelli (129 lbs) won a six round majority decision in a rematch with Angel McNamara (
130½ lbs), who fell to 5-3-1 (2 KO's).

Kelli vs. Liz Drew (left) in February 2006
© Copyrighted photo taken by Allan Messick

On February 16, 2006 at Harrah’s in North Kansas City, Missouri, USA, Kelli (132½ lbs) won a six-round unanimous decision over Liz Drew (137½ lbs) of Troy, Missouri, who fell to 11-90 (4 KOs) with the loss. Kelli improved her record to 13-3-4 (4 KOs).  (For more of Allan Messick's photos of this fight card, see MPEG/Photo Gallery #335 on the WBAN Records Member Site).

Kelli suffered a broken hand in the bout with Liz Drew and required surgery that kept her out of action for several months.

On December 2, 2006 at the Moi International Sport Center in Nairobi, Kenya, Kelli (132¾ lbs) returned to the ring but lost an eight-round majority (79-78,77-75,77-77) decision to Esther Phiri (132½ lbs) of Zambia who improved to 4-3-1 (1 KO) while Kelli dropped to 13-4-4 (3 KO's).  

Jessica Rakoczy vs. Kelli Cofer
© Copyrighted photo by Alan Messick

On February 22, 2007 at the Tachi Palace Hotel and Casino in Lemoore, California, ex-pat Canadian Jessica Rakoczy (132 lbs) won by a technical decision at 1:12 in the fifth round over Kelli (133½ lbs) for the WBC Lightweight title.  Midway through the round, Rakoczy got in close on Cofer and landed a vicious left hook to the head. As the right-handed Rakoczy was weaving away from the southpaw Cofer, an accidental head butt caused a severe cut above Cofer's right eye and the bout was stopped. The decision went to the scorecards, where it was  50-45, 50-45 and 49-45 in favor of Rakoczy.  Rakoczy improved to 26-2-0 (10 KOs) with the win.   

On September 28, 2007 at Shaw Conference Centre in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, Jelena Mrdjenovich (133½ lbs) of Edmonton won a 10-round unanimous (99-91) decision over Kelli (131 lbs) for the WIBF Lightweight title. Mrdjenovich was too strong for the southpaw Cofer, who she outfought at close quarters. Cofer was bloodied in the fourth round and had to to convince her corner to allow her to continue in the fight. Mrdjenovich improved to 21-2-0 (11 KOs) while dropping Cofer to 13-6-4 (4 KOs).

Natalie Brown vs. Kelli Cofer in January 2008
© Copyrighted photo taken by Durell Wambolt

On January 19, 2008 at Casino Rama in Orillia, Ontario, Canada, Natalie Brown (139 lbs) of Mississauga, Ontario won a four-round unanimous decision over Kelli (136½ lbs) who fell to 13-7-4 (3 KO's) with the loss. Brown, a two-time world amateur silver medalist, improved her pro record to 5-0 with the win.  Cofer was knocked down in the first round and again in the second by Brown, a two-time world amateur silver medalist and former US National amateur champion who now lives in Canada.  (For more photos of this fight by Durell Wambolt, see Photo Gallery #465 on the WBAN Records Member Site).

Kelli has studied at the University of Cincinnati and Ohio State University, where she pursues a degree in biomedics and prosthetics. She has had intern positions at the aeronautical company Pratt and Whitney, where she was a material engineer for the RD-180 project, a joint venture between the Russian and United States (NASA) space programs. Currently, she is not enrolled full-time in order to balance school and boxing.

Other Kelli Cofer links

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Page last updated: Friday, 06 November 2015


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