NEWARK, N.J. (CBSNewYork) – A New Jersey boxer is about to make history.
Vito Mielnicki Jr. is the first 17-year-old in the state to turn pro, reports CBSN New York’s Christina Fan.
He may be soft-spoken at the podium, nut the teenager is a knockout in the ring. He’s about to become the youngest fighter to make his professional debut in New Jersey history.
“It’s hard work, dedication in the gym all the time, every day,” said Mielnicki.
Mielnicki will be on the undercard of world-renown boxer Shakur Stevenson’s homecoming match.
Stevenson is an Olympic silver medalist.
The two fighters used to be amateur teammates in Newark.
“When I was down, he would help me get up,” Mielnicki. “When he was down I would help him get up.”
In New Jersey, the rules are fairly strict when it comes to turning pro, setting a minimum age of 18 years old.
Mielnicki’s coaches say it shows just how good he is to be granted an exception from the New Jersey Boxing Commission at 17-years-old.
“If you think about it, it’s like a big chess match in there,” said boxing manager David McWater. “This kid is very cerebral, he’s the whole package, he’s going to be great.”
Mielnicki says he doesn’t feel any extra pressure.
“It doesn’t really make me nervous at all, I’ve been doing it so long,” he said.
To him age is but a number.