There were no extra miles to be run for Vito Mielnicki Jr., no sparring with heavyweights for the welterweight prospect after he returned home to New Jersey following a brief stint training with Joe Goossen in California.
In other words, trainer Muhammad Abdul Salaam is no fun, as he welcomed the 18-year-old back into the fold with open arms and no extra rounds.
That’s just fine with Mielnicki as he prepares for his Saturday bout against James Martin.
“Training's going well, my weight's good, and I'm in the best shape of my life, I would say, so everything's going good,” he said. “Me and my old coach, we've been together so long that it just went right back to normal.”
Last year, Mielnicki made news with his move out west to work with Goossen, but just as suddenly, the two split before the Roseland product beat Noe Lopez in February. Sorry, gossipers, there was no drama; the kid just wanted to be back in the Garden State.
“Really, it was just me needing to be home around my family,” said Mielnicki. “Nothing happened between me and Joe. It was me missing home and wanting to be with my family.”
It’s at times like these when it’s easy to forget that he’s only 18 years old. Luckily, the 8-0 Mielnicki hasn’t, so when it comes to the fight game, he’s not in a rush, even though the tendency is to put the foot on the gas with prospects who have the “it” factor to go with their talent.
“What other people have to say really doesn't mean much to me because I know who's been there with me and I know who knows the process of what it's gonna be the next five years,” he said.
“The people who were with me since I was seven years old when I first started, when I was just learning how to throw a jab, those are the people who are still with me now, and obviously my added team of Al Haymon, Anthony Catanzaro and the rest of the Premier Boxing team. I know it's a process, I know how many years this is gonna take. This isn't gonna happen overnight, so I'm gonna keep taking my time, keep getting the experience, keep being a sponge and just absorbing all the different experiences we get in and out of the ring.”
The fight against Lopez was an experience that Mielnicki may look back on one day as a turning point in his career. Not only was he facing a more experienced foe, but he was in there with someone who was looking to make his name off the rising star.
“We knew we were fighting a kid that was 10-3-1, a kid that was coming to win, and even after the fight, the kid, Noe, told me, ‘I thought I was gonna get you out of there late.’ He thought he was gonna take me into deep waters and get me out, but it was an eye opener to a lot of people and a fight to let everyone know that there's not just buzz around me for no reason; I'm the real deal.”
Many who were skeptics saw the Lopez fight and started to change their tune when it came to Mielnicki and his prospects at 147 (and later 154) pounds. And the teenager isn’t gonna lie, he does take a glance at the rankings now and again, but he is a teenager, and he’s willing to do the work and wait for his time to shine.
“I look at the rankings and see how I would fare against these guys, but I'm still 18 and I'm not in a rush,” he said. “I know this is a long journey and I still know we're gonna take our time as a team. We're in eight-rounders, will eventually move to ten, but I'm young, so my mindset is to keep working all the time.”
Saturday night, he clocks in again.