With the New Jersey Devils season put on hold boxing headlined the The Rock in Newark, New Jersey Christmas night. Roseland, New Jersey’s own Vito Mielnicki fought his first main event and reached the tenth round for the first time in his career in his tenth career victory. At age nineteen and standing six feet tall the young welterweight continues to develop in a pro career that began at age seventeen in 2019. He suffered a setback in April when he lost a decision to James Martin and in an attempt to avenge the loss Martin missed weight and the fight did not go ahead as planned. Premier Boxing Champions on Fox gave Mielnicki a shot to get serious exposure on the back of their All Madden Documentary and NFL match up between the Green Bay Packers and Cleveland Browns. Mielnicki was in total control of the fight from the opening bell until the moment referee Eric Dali waved off the fight at a minute and forty nine seconds of the tenth round.
Jason DeLomba is a veteran fighter based out of Rhode Island and entered at 16-3 with five knockouts and all of his losses were to undefeated fighters. He entered off the back of a wide decision loss to Richardson Hitchens whom Mielnicki prepared with in the lead up to this fight. DeLomba showed up soft around the midsection and was out gunned from the onset in this contest. Mielnicki immediately took control of the action with skillful footwork, a sharp and persistent jab, and his reach and height advantage. The fight looked like it was going to end early when a short counter right hand had DeLomba in trouble in the third round and Mielnicki jumped on him. He fired off hooks and uppercuts in an attempt to put a close to the bout but DeLomba survived and Mielnicki intelligently backed off.
The fight fell into a pattern with DeLomba aimlessly following Mielnicki around the ring and Vito popping off the jab. DeLomba’s right side of his face began to mark up with some swelling and redness from the continued jabbing. Mielnicki gave a lot of ground and the center of the ring but never was trapped along the ropes or stuck in the corners. DeLomba was only really trying to wrestle inside to tire Mielnicki out or trying to land a chopping right hand and Mielnicki looked like he was just maintaining the distance that he had every advantage with and looking for the counter opportunity to end the fight. DeLomba was not opening up enough to provide that opportunity. In the ninth round DeLomba began to try and get his offense going and the fight finally had a more spirited pace with Mielnicki scoring two hard body blows near the bell. As the tenth round approached the midway point Mielnicki stunned DeLomba with a short counter right hand and his corner stopped the fight with the veteran fighter upright and trying to fight back.
I think this was a good performance for Mielnicki who got to go the furthest he had in a fight up until this point in his career and got the stoppage. Many online are heaping criticism saying he is going to bust and that he is flawed but I think people need to pump the brakes a little. He is not even twenty years old and he is going ten rounds as a professional. I think people need to temper their expectations and not assume that he will be where some of the other young fighters are just yet. Everyone peaks at different times and it is clear that Vito is a work in progress. If he is managed properly and continues to improve with each step up who knows what he may be by the time he is twenty three or twenty four. I saw a boxer light on his feet who moved very well and had a good snappy jab that was good throughout the fight. I think he is a little one dimensional as far as not showing much inside or on the front foot but he also was so dominant from the outside it made no sense to take the fight to the trenches. He will only get stronger and possibly develop more power and he will develop more strength to push guys around. Mielnicki is not a top contender and would not be a threat to the top ten or even top fifteen at welterweight currently but in the long run he can be a force.
On the undercard Joey Spencer of Linden, Michigan scored a knockout victory over Limberth Ponce to advance to 14-0 with 10 KO’s. Spencer is another young gun being heavily touted by Premier Boxing Champions. Spencer is a much bigger puncher in comparison to Mielnicki and fights more out of a shoulder roll whereas Vito fights more upright. I was a doubter earlier in Spencer’s career with his tough fight with Akeem Black that was closer than the scorecards suggest. I felt he was a little more flash than substance and fought a style where he tried to be slicker than he really is. He has improved since then and I think he has promise but he still has some areas of improvement. His work rate is a little low and he was caught a few times with his low left hand as he would do a hard step with his lead foot to feint. Occasionally Ponce would connect on the right hand timing Spencer coming in and if Ponce was a more dangerous puncher it could have been a much scarier night for Spencer. Ponce has 11 KO’s in his 18 wins but he doesn’t have a big frame at the weight and has only stopped two fighters with a winning record. Spencer has had right hand problems and did end the fight with a right hand which he threw with confidence.
-Featherweight Rajon Chance of East Orange, NJ won a split decision over Elon de Jesus in a rematch of their controversial draw. This was a close fight that I scored 57-57 and Chance won with scores of 58-56 which is fair and 59-55 which is too wide. The 58-56 de Jesus score is fair in my opinion but I feel the right man won. Chance fought behind a nice jab and had a crisp right cross. de Jesus made it a fight in the second half with solid left hooks inside. Both men strayed low down the stretch including a bad low blow in the final round where referee Harvey Dock could have been justified in taking a point. Both men were very impressive.
-Middleweight Yoelvis Gomez advanced to 5-0 all by KO with 4 in the first round when he stopped Clay Collard. Gomez could not miss with the right hook and stunned Collard early in the opening round. Collard stood his ground and tried to fight back but was too wide open and found himself on the canvas. Collard bravely tried to fight back in the corner but was getting hit cleanly too often and the fight was stopped in the first round. Collard falls to 9-6 after having a 5-1 stretch in 2020 with several upsets, his 2021 campaign ends at 0-3 with two losses in December. Collard is a tough customer who I have enjoyed covering over the last two years but this may be it for boxing. He had a huge win in MMA by upsetting former UFC champion Anthony Pettis in the Professional Fighter’s League this past season.