IT had taken Vito Mielnicki Jr just 40 seconds to tell Boxing News that he had been away from his family for eight weeks for his latest training camp with Ronnie Shields in Houston.

The original question centred around who he was fighting next, and the super-welterweight contender confirmed it was Ronald Cruz on Saturday (May 4). Their 10-round bout is part of an undercard featuring 10 bouts before Canelo Alvarez and Jaime Munguia take centre stage at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas for the undisputed super-middleweight championship.

Mentioning family isn’t unusual for a fighter but Mielnicki’s clan in New Jersey have played a significant part in their son’s career as a professional boxer.

“My family is a huge part of who I am,” he told BN over Zoom.

“My mother, my father… they bred me into the person I am. My dad’s always been hard-working since I was a kid. Always seen him getting up [at] 4.30-5am, going to break his ass, going to pay our bills. That’s where I get my work ethic from.

“My mum always taught me to stay humble, be kind and stay true to yourself. [I’m] just blessed to have the support from them and my family because a lot of people don’t even have that. It’s truly a blessing.”

The Mielnicki family played a starring role in ‘Day in Camp’, a Showtime documentary providing a behind the scenes look at their son’s life. Devin Haney, Jaron Ennis and Claressa Shields are three of the more recognised names who also had cameras follow them around for the series which, just like Showtime’s involvement in boxing, came to an end.

Beginning at the Mielnicki family home in Roseland, New Jersey, viewers are welcomed into their lives for 12 minutes which is enough time to show how much of a tight unit they are. Vito Mielnicki Sr travels with his son to training camps while Mrs Mielnicki’s role is described as a “rock” by Vito Jr.

There is a revealing moment, however, in the fighter’s car near the beginning of the short documentary when he chats about boxing being his whole life since the age of seven and why he is destined to go all the way.

“I can’t express how much I want [it],” he says. His vehicle stationary, the driver stares into the distance not at anything specific but perhaps visualising that moment when he reaches the destination he dreams about.

“I sacrificed a lot through the years,” he tells BN.

“I sacrificed time away from my family, sacrificed my father’s time away from my family, money that could have went to my family that my dad has spent on me to go to tournaments. Not only am I doing this for me, but I’m doing this for my family as well because I know how much they’ve been through with me on this journey.

“And I know the countless hours I’ve put in the gym. I know the times I’ve been alone in the gym, early mornings, late nights and I know how much I’ve put into this, and I know where I wanna go. I’ve set my mind on it, I’ve manifested it, I’ve journaled it, I’ve done it all. I envision it in my head almost every day.

“Like I said in that video I can’t express how much I want this, how bad I want this and that’ll stay that way because I can’t express how bad I want this. It’s always been a dream of mine since I was seven years old. I played (American) football and I boxed. Once I realised boxing was what I wanted to do fully, which was in seventh grade when I stopped playing football, I dedicated everything into this, and I’ll continue to do that until I get to my goal and my dream.”

The 21-year-old says all the right things and looks the part. He carries himself well and possesses a maturity beyond his years. Mielnicki, 17-1 (12 KOs) has an X-Factor about him which, if he doesn’t achieve in boxing what he believes, will help him do well wherever life takes him.

Mielnicki Jr has already fought on a number of high-profile cards (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)

During ‘Day in Camp, ’ Mrs Mielnicki revealed she used to get upset that other kids were out playing or at birthday parties and feared her son was missing out. But her little boy would simply say, “I’m good”.

Surely, though, he has been tempted to have a weekend where he forgets about boxing and has some fun.

“There’s always a time for a little bit of enjoying yourself but you gotta be different,” he responds.

“Kobe Bryant would be the one going out at 4.30 in the morning to the gym and the guys would be coming in from the club at that time and going to sleep.

“In order to get to a different level, I believe you gotta be different. You gotta be one of a kind. Like I said I’ve seen my dad work his whole life to put food on the table, to pay bills, to give us a good life. A lack of commitment from me would be an insult to the people who believe in me. So, I’m going to continue putting one foot in front of the other. Continue to stay consistent. I’m extremely blessed to be in the position I am, and I won’t take that for granted.”

He won’t take Ronald Cruz for granted, either. Fighting the 32-year-old Californian is another rung on the ladder that Mielnicki will treat with the utmost respect. Cruz went the eight-round distance with the highly-regarded Puerto Rican Xander Zayas last year, but that isn’t at the forefront of Mielnicki’s mind.

Losing an eight-round contest of his own to James Martin (6-2 at the time) in April 2021 was the wake-up call that Mielnicki needed. You can’t take anything for granted in boxing. Fail to prepare, prepare to fail and it was a lack of preparation – Mielnicki said at the time – which cost him and put a first and only loss on his record. Since the Martin defeat, there hasn’t been a problem ensuring that preparation goes well.

“I drive them [my coaches] crazy because something I’m always doing too much,” he says.

“It’s all a mental thing. I always say proper preparation prevents poor performance. Living by that since that night is a quote that I live by. And I don’t mean overly preparing and leaving the fight in the gym. I have a great team around me. They tell me when to settle down, when to pull back a little.”

Mielnicki is a promoter’s dream. He speaks well, he’s mature, confident, good-looking and has won 12 of his 17 fights inside the distance. As a kid Mielnicki knew he could whack and while he wouldn’t knock older opponents out, they wouldn’t be standing in the same position after being caught by one of his punches.

“I feel like in the last year, year and a half, I’ve felt a different kind of crack when I’m in there,” Mielnicki said of his punch power.

He’s something of a complete package but the box isn’t full yet. There will come another fight where questions are asked that only a fighter can answer. The inquest into the loss against Martin has created another version of Mielnicki and with the backing of the decision-makers involved, with Premier Boxing Champions, he is being pushed and receiving high-profile opportunities, including this Saturday on the Canelo-Munguia undercard.

“You obviously want to put on a great performance for you, for the fans, for everyone around the world. I think that’s important,” he says, spoken like someone who gets it.

“These are the people who are buying the tickets, who are buying the pay-per-views, who watch me do what I love. Putting on a good show for the fans is important, but obviously, being on a show of this calibre, of this magnitude, is a dream of mine. Showing out and putting on a dominant performance will be important for me for sure.”

A win will likely consolidate his top-five ranking with the WBA, which sees Erickson Lubin, European champion Abass Baraou, and Vergil Ortiz Jr. sit above him in the top 10. Champion Israil Madrimov defends the title against Terence Crawford on August 3. It’s the perfect time to be a part of a deeply talented super-welterweight division, and sometime in 2024, we will find out if Vito Mielnicki Jr.’s ambitions are realistic or not.