Less than a year after graduating high school, Vito Mielnicki Jr. was taught his most valuable lesson in the ring.
The rising prospect from Roseland, New Jersey suffered a bump in the road, as he was outboxed by Philadelphia’s James Martin via majority decision over eight rounds. Judge Max DeLuca saw the contest 76-76, overruled by judges Dr. Lou Moret (77-75) and Alejandro Rochin (79-73) in favor of Martin in their junior middleweight bout Saturday evening at Shrine Auditorium & Expo Hall in Los Angeles.
Martin held his own in the opening round, winning the battle of the jabs. Mielnicki fought from the outside, shooting his own jab though largely resigned to play the role of counterpuncher.
Mielnicki looked to force the action in round two, though Martin was game for the cause. A steady stream of jabs continued to flow from the Philadelphia native, who also managed to draw blood from Mielnicki’s nose. Martin connected with a left hook in the closing seconds of the frame, the most significant punch of the fight to that point.
A fast-paced round three saw Mielnicki begin to target the body of Martin. The 18-year-old was still being outworked, with Martin doubling up on his jab and following up with right hands.
Mielnicki continued to fight through the blood, becoming more aggressive in round four. Martin stood in the pocket, relying on infighting skills to slip most of the incoming. Mielnicki certainly had his say in the round, connecting with right hands to the body along with a crisp left uppercut which snapped back the head of Martin.
The second half of the fight saw a more aggressive Mielnicki, significantly altering the tempo of the fight. Martin fought almost exclusively behind the jab as his overall offense slowed down. Mielnicki threw his right hand with confidence, going a long way in slowing down his more seasoned opponent.
Mielnicki picked up his attack in round six, a round which saw Martin significantly slow down. It served its purpose for the perceived underdog, however, as Martin came out blazing in round seven. Mielnicki was chastised in his corner in between rounds, with head trainer Muhammad Abdul Salaam insisting that his young charge was not carrying out his instructions.
Whatever was said in the corner of Martin seemed to greater resonate as the second-generation boxer dialed up the pressure in round seven. Mielnicki was outworked throughout the frame, with Martin enjoying his highest punch output of any round.
Mielnicki did his best to close the fight in strong fashion, though never coming close to landing the type of home run shot he needed in order to avoid the upset. Martin remained directly In front of his young charge, not wanting to put himself in a position to where the judges could steal it from him.
Martin picks up by far his most significant win to date, improving to 7-2 (0KOs). The feat comes two months after offering a credible account of himself in a six-round defeat to another teenaged welterweight in Xander Zayas,
Mielnicki suffers his first career blemish, falling to 8-1 (5KOs).
The bout served as the opener of a Premier Boxing Champions (PBC) on Fox tripleheader, topped by a junior middleweight bout between former WBC titlist Tony Harrison (28-3, 21KOs) and Bryant Perrella (17-3, 14KOs).
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox