The rising super welterweight has found stability with Ronnie Shields and training with Jermall Charlo, as evidenced by his banner 2023. This year forecasts to be even bigger.
The solemn whispers come to him in easy torrents. Vito Mielnicki Jr. hears the missives in his head, “You have to do more,” “One more rep,” “You have something to prove to yourself,” and “You’re not doing enough.”
They have been omnipresent companions ever since the 21-year-old super welterweight from Roseland, New Jersey, first put on boxing gloves.
The voices are what drive him to do what he did in 2023, winning four times in four fights, including Mielnicki’s most impressive victory to date, his first-round knockout of Alexis Salazar on the David Benavidez-Demetrius Andrade undercard last November. Veteran Salazar, who has fought Carlos Adames and Xander Zayas among others, was stopped for only the second time in his career.
Mielnicki (17-1, 12 KOs) has bigger plans for 2024.
Training out of Houston with renowned coach Ronnie Shields, “White Magic” is discovering new facets of his game. Mielnicki has found even more stability under Shields. His defense is tighter and his punches are more accurate and explosive.
The only issue Mielnicki has is a snag every trainer wishes their fighters would have: He works too hard.
“Vito is a joy, a real joy to work with. He does everything I ask of him, and he does everything I want, but sometimes I have to stop him, because he does too much,” the esteemed Shields said with a laugh. “I tell him to back off some things a little bit because I don’t want him to overtrain. I could tell when he ran to the gym before he trains. I don’t want him tired when we are going through something. The kid is a workaholic, he really is.
“It’s a problem I wish most fighters had. Plus, he loves boxing. It’s good to be in a sport you love because he will put everything into it. Roy Jones Jr. was born to box. He might not have loved boxing, but he did it. Vito is right where we need him to be. This kid comes in and I told him we would be sparring with Jermall Charlo the whole camp. No complaints—we went right in and did the work.”
Mielnicki openly admits he still has things to prove to the fans and to the boxing community. He feels the pieces are coming together. But Mielnicki, being Mielnicki, is not satisfied.
His eight-round majority loss to James Martin in April 2021 still haunts him. Though, he counters, it has been a great help to him, too. It opened his eyes to how he was preparing for fights and what needed to be corrected. He says that he is still getting there and battling the internal voices that breathe into his head that he is not working hard enough.
“I have to be smarter,” Mielnicki said. “My work ethic will take me so far. No one will ever question how hard I work. Ronnie always tells me I have to slow down and taper off a little bit. I’m working on that (laughs). I have a chip on my shoulder. I’ll admit it. I’m in competition with myself. I always feel I have something to prove.
“ I always feel that I’m overlooked. ” Rising Super Welterweight - Vito Mielnicki Jr.
“I always feel that I’m overlooked. That goes back to the loss I had and how old I was when I had it. I know I have to keep working hard, and I do hear that ‘You have something to prove to yourself, to others and to the boxing world.’”
A big bonus has been Mielnicki’s growing relationship with Jermall Charlo, who also trains with Shields. Mielnicki worked with the undefeated WBC Middleweight World Champion for three months leading up to his first-round victory over Salazar.
They did 100 educational rounds together. They sparred in Charlo’s home.
“First, ’Mall is nothing like what people in boxing think he is,” Mielnicki said. “He’s a great guy. In real life, he’s a real genuine guy who took me in. He loves his family. I can’t say enough good things about how he treated me. I was always a Jermall Charlo fan. I’ve become a bigger fan. He helped me prepare for (the Salazar) fight.
“Jermall has become like a big brother to me. It was cool to be around him and see how he carries himself and see what champions go through at that level. The best advice he gave me was stay true to myself through the ups and downs.”
As an amateur, Mielnicki was originally trained by Walli Moses, then Muhammad Salaam early as a pro. He has had Hall of Famer Joe Goossen in his corner, then Chino Rivas most recently, and now future Hall of Famer Shields.
Mielnicki is looking forward to going back to camp with Shields. He wants to fight four times in 2024.
“I want to keep leveling up and keep growing,” Mielnicki said. “I’m learning so much with Ronnie and being in camp with Jermall. Being around great fighters like Jermall, David Morell Jr., Yoenis Tellez, you can’t help but get better.”
Shields sees a big future ahead for Mielnicki. He likes how the younger fighter pays attention to the tiny details. Mielnicki now has some consistency in Shields and the Houston stable of stars.
In the short time they have been together, it has been a fruitful partnership. Pads on Mondays. Spar on Tuesdays, pads on Wednesdays, back to sparring on Thursdays before an off day on Fridays followed by, you guessed it, more sparring on Saturdays.
“He is at a stage in his life when he can be patient," Shields said. "Vito will continue to fight good fighters. I was really impressed with how he looked against Salazar. He was unbelievable. He is only going to get better. I’m proud of the kid because he did everything I asked him to do. The sky is really the limit for him.”
For a closer look at Vito Mielnicki Jr., check out his fighter page.
- Vito Mielnicki Jr.