Teenage prodigy Vito ‘White Magic’ Mielnicki Jr. was forced to work hard by tough veteran Nicholas ‘Nice Nick’ DeLomba but produced a late stoppage after displaying good footwork and an effective jab all night.
The win was the highest-profile scalp of Mielnicki’s young career to date and exposed the impressive New Jersey youngster to a wide audience in the growing stages of his career.
IN THE BLUE CORNER – VITO MIELNICKI JR.
Mielnicki was under the brightest lights of his career to date, with this being his first nationally televised main event and also his first scheduled 10 round fight in a primetime Christmas Day viewing window.
The 19-year old prodigy carried a record of 9-1 (6KO) into this bout that would take place only 15 minutes away from his hometown of Roseland, New Jersey. It was Mielnicki’s third fight at the Prudential Center in Newark, having knocked out Tamarcus Smith on his debut in 2019 and stopped Noah Kidd in the second round last time out.
The career of Mielnicki flew out to an 8-0 start before hitting a speed bump back in April when the teenage sensation was upset in a majority decision loss to James Martin. Looking to right that wrong, Mielnicki scheduled an immediate rematch with Smith who came in significantly overweight and was replaced by Kidd at late notice.
In preparation for this primetime clash against DeLomba, Mielnicki got in some high-level sparring that included rounds against former world champion Danny Garcia.
IN THE RED CORNER – NICHOLAS DELOMBA
While an underdog with the bookmakers, veteran DeLomba’s record suggested he would be a very tough opponent for Mielnicki at this early stage in his career. The 31-year old carried a 16-3 (5KO) record into this bout and had suffered only one stoppage loss, that coming at the hands of Gledwin Ortiz back in 2015. DeLomba entered this fight after a 22-month layoff looking to get back to winning ways after having a five-fight victory streak snapped by a unanimous decision loss to unbeaten Richardson Hitchins last time out.
The durable DeLomba had gone the distance in 13 of his 19 career fights and expected his extra experience to pay off in this contest. “I will lean on my experience this entire contest,” DeLomba said at the pre-fight press conference. “He’s never fought 10 rounds, he hasn’t fought the level of competition I’ve fought. I’m a grown man, he’s still young.”
The confidence expressed in the press conference showed through in the ring walk as a smiling DeLomba sauntered to the ring bedecked in the colors of the USA, Puerto Rico, Italy, and Portugal national flags.
The hometown crowd erupted as Mielnicki made his entrance in all green to the sounds of the famous Phil Collins anthem ‘In the Air Tonight.’
Mielnicki started the fight on the front foot, bouncing on his toes and fizzing out the jab while interspersing left hooks and powerful straight rights. Mielnicki connected with a right hook that drew a warning from referee Eric Dali for being to the back of the head. The offense did not stop and the face of DeLomba was starting to redden early due to the relentless jab of Mielnicki.
The high, earmuff style guard of DeLomba was penetrated early in round two by the sharp jab of Mielnicki before the young star doubled up with a left hook to the body and head. Delomba responded by stepping forward with one of his first offensive bursts of the night and the pair ended up in a clinch before wrestling each other onto the ropes and being separated by referee Dali.
Mielnicki backed DeLomba onto the ropes as a percussive jab and razor-sharp hooks were consistently scoring during what was a dominant opening two rounds for the hometown fighter.
It was the teenage prodigy on the front foot again in round three, with Mielnicki backing DeLomba onto the ropes and unleashing a barrage of whipping hooks as his friends and family roared him on from the front row seats just behind a shelled up DeLomba.
DeLomba kept his guard high as Mielnicki unloaded with another attack only for referee Dali to interrupt the beating and give Mielnicki a second verbal warning, this time for use of the elbow.
The right hook of Mielnicki was consistently catching DeLomba flush and an uppercut found its way through the veteran’s guard as the one-sided start to the contest continued. At the end of the round, FOX television statistics showed that Mielnicki had built a 63-12 advantage in punches landed so far in the fight.
The pace of the fight dipped in the opening stages of round four, with DeLomba tying up Mielnicki in the clinch before closing the distance and missing with a looping right hand. DeLomba raised his guard high and stepped forward consistently, throwing punches in close before several separations from referee Dali during what was a much better round for the veteran.
To open round five, DeLomba bent his knees, raised his hands, and stalked forward to go on the offensive. DeLomba was beginning to occupy the center ring more consistently as Mielnicki circled the ropes and fired out a jab to keep the veteran at bay.
The jab of Mielnicki scored repeatedly but it appeared that DeLomba had weathered the worst of the storm and was dragging the youngster into unfamiliar waters. Mielnicki had gone past round five only twice in his career so far, including the defeat to Martin.
DeLomba opened round six with a left-handed punch that landed and continued to walk forward while the hometown favorite circled the ring left and right while connecting with the jab. On the occasions that DeLomba lowered his head and lunged forward, Mielnicki grabbed the head of the veteran in a clinch to stall momentum.
The veteran DeLomba was not going to go down easily and stalked Mielnicki in the opening stages of round seven before roughing up the youngster with several body punches in the clinch. DeLomba was applying never-ending pressure in terms of closing the distance but was not managing to cut the ring off, allowing the younger fighter to land percussive jabs before skipping out of harm’s way.
DeLomba continued to advance in round eight but was failing to inflict significant damage on Mielnicki, with the teenager peppering the veteran with a jab and using slick footwork to circle the ring and change the angle of attack. Mielnicki scored with a heavy body shot late in the round before whizzing a left hook just past the face of DeLomba.
With the final two rounds ahead, DeLomba would likely be in need of a knockout as Mielnicki had built up a 118-42 advantage in punches landed through the first eight rounds according to FOX statistics.
Trainer Nelson Rodriguez emphasized this fact to his fighter in the corner, stating “you need to let it out, let go of your hands” as he encouraged his man to look for a decisive, fight-altering punch.
Following the advice of his trainer, DeLomba advanced with intent once more but was simply unable to pin down the younger, faster fighter and Mielnicki fired out jabs while gliding side to side. When the pair ended up in a clinch, Mielnicki displayed superior strength and walked DeLomba back onto the ropes.
When DeLomba did get in close, he scored with a flurry of body punches but Mielnicki was always able to find joy with the jab and prevent himself from being in any true danger.
The fighters touched gloves ahead of the final round before Mielnicki continued his winning formula of fencing out with the jab and circling the ropes. Just as it seemed the fight was heading to the scorecards, Mielnicki rocked DeLomba with a right hook to the jaw, closing into rain down punches and being interrupted twice by separations from referee Dali.
As DeLomba advanced once more, beckoning Mielnicki onto him as the youngster smiled in response, referee Dali stepped in to surprisingly stop the fight at the request of DeLomba’s corner.
A visibly upset DeLomba protested what was only the second stoppage defeat of his career, but the ending did not put a dampener on what was a skilled performance from the victorious Mielnicki who had passed his primetime Christmas Day test.
WHAT THEY SAID
Mielnicki praised his opponent post-fight and acknowledged how hard he had to work, telling FOX “it was a beautiful right hand that hurt him. He was a tough guy and he made me work all night. I think in this fight I displayed my boxing ability, I was using my feet. Everyone knows me as a puncher and a pressure guy. I was in there with a tough guy and I want to thank him for sharing the ring with me tonight.”
WHAT NEXT FOR THE WINNER
The primary goal of Mielnicki will be activity as he continues to put the disappointing loss to Martin in the rearview mirror. This fight was a step in the right direction and a good exercise in being taken into the latter stages of a fight, but it is likely the young star will want to register some knockouts as he grows his home state fan base in 2022.
It has been proven he can main event cards in his home state, but some high-profile Las Vegas undercards could be another good way to gain exposure for the rising star.
WHAT NEXT FOR THE LOSER
DeLomba is a tough veteran and has been a tough man to stop for the entirety of his career, he serves as a good test for top-end prospects and at 16-4, could make a run for the upper echelon of the division with an upset win.
Author’s Scorecard (round by round)