Watch: 17-year-old prodigy Vito Mielnicki ready to party after winning pro debut
NEWARK, N.J. — Vito Mielnicki Jr. had no intention of hanging around long during his pro debut on Saturday night. Facing Tamarcus Smith in front of a crowd of over 5,000 – a fifth of whom bought tickets from him – the 17-year-old wanted to give them what they wanted as fast as possible.
“I wanted to get him out of there early and not keep the people who came here to support me long,” said Mielnicki after he knocked Smith cold 76 seconds into Round 1 at the Prudential Center. “We have an after party to go to tonight.”
Mielnicki had been granted special permission by New Jersey to turn pro so young due to his extensive amateur background, which consisted of over 160 fights and multiple national titles at the Junior Olympics level. Mielnicki walked out to the ring to Rage Against The Machine’s “Killing in the Name”, a song that came out ten years before he was even born, and fought with a level of intensity that matched his entrance music.
Still, fighting with the smaller gloves and without headgear was a new experience.
“It felt way different. I’m strong, I’m a boxer-puncher and I feel that’s why the pros are really good for me,” said Mielnicki, a resident of Roseland, N.J.
Mielnicki weighed in at 146 pounds, but given that he’s already 6’2″ and still growing, and had to come down from 176 pounds for this fight, he expects to be a middleweight soon enough.
He wants to be back in the ring in October or November, and says he sees himself fighting for a world title by the time he’s 21 years old.
His knockout earned him a spot on ESPN SportsCenter’s Top Ten Plays list. Having that level of exposure can be a lot for the incoming senior student at West Essex High School, but he says it won’t change him.
“I’m always gonna be humble and I’ll always stick by that but it’ll definitely be different after that,” said Mielnicki.