By Thomas Gerbasi
With the 2010 census reporting the population of Quincy, Massachusetts to be 33.5% Irish, you would figure that a kid going by the name of “The Polish Prince” might have gotten into his share of scraps growing up. Not so, says Ryan Kielczewski.
“I never got into a street fight,” he chuckles. “Some people try to get me going, but that stuff doesn’t work on me.”
That may have something to do with the fact that Kielczewski has been boxing since the age of six, winning two New England Golden Gloves titles and 118 of 144 amateur fights before turning pro in 2008. Currently 16-0 in the punch for pay ranks, the 23-year-old has landed in the ESPN Friday Night Fights co-main event slot this Friday at Rockingham Park in Salem, New Hampshire against fellow unbeaten Miguel Soto, and just as he was unmoved by anyone trying to test him in the neighborhood, he’s similarly cool about his big nationally televised showcase.
“It’s definitely a huge opportunity for me, but at the end of the day, it’s just another fight,” he said. “I trained real hard for this fight and I had an unbelievable camp this time around. I know I’m ready to do my thing, so it feels like another day at the office.”
It’s not though. A big win for the Lou DiBella-promoted junior lightweight can start to put him on the fast track to the top of the division, but the way he sees it, this isn’t just a lark he stumbled upon; this is a life mission just starting to get good.
“This (boxing) was always it for me,” said Kielczewski. “I remember all those little school projects in elementary school, asking you what you wanted to be when you grew up, and I’d say a professional boxer. This is a path that I chose as a little boy and stuck with it.”
That’s not to say the teachers in Quincy didn’t try their best to sway their student’s intentions to more conventional pursuits.
“All the time,” he laughs. Yet all kidding aside, it takes a special athlete to not only dedicate themselves to their sport as a youngster, but to avoid all the temptations and pitfalls along the way. Kielczewski, like any other 23-year-old, is human, and when asked what he missed out on along the way as he spent days, weeks, months, and years in the gym, he doesn’t try to cushion the answer.
“You miss out on everything, but I have no regrets whatsoever,” he said. “It sucks sometimes when I want to go out and go to the beach or something and I gotta be in the gym, and when it comes to hanging out with my friends, going to cookouts and all that stuff, I can’t do any of that, but it’s gonna pay off in the end.”
He may just be right. An increasingly popular fighter on the New England scene, Kielczewski won’t wow anyone with his power (he only has three KOs in his 16 wins), but he throws a lot of punches, making it an entertaining death by a thousand cuts method of fighting that is sure to attract more fans on Friday night. At the very least, he won’t have to look far to find Puerto Rico’s Soto, who has 11 knockouts in 11 pro victories without a loss.
“I found a couple clips of him on youtube, just cell phone videos, nothing real professional, but we’ve seen what we had to see,” said Kielczewski of his foe. “He seems like a regular standup southpaw that has a little power.”
If you heard the relaxed tone in Kielczewski’s voice as he described Soto as a “regular standup southpaw,” you wouldn’t believe he was just a 23-year-old with 16 pro fights. But as he explains, what would usually panic some of his peers doesn’t bother him too much.
“I was like every other fight I had in the amateurs was against a lefty,” he laughs. “I’ve only had one fight in the pros against a lefty, but I’ve probably at least had 50 fights against lefties in the amateurs, so I’ve seen it all, and it’s not gonna bother me.”
It seems like nothing does bother “The Polish Prince,” and that may end up being the secret to his eventual success. But for now, the focus is on Friday night and making a big first impression.
“Friday night’s gonna be the night that puts my face out there and puts me up there with the next prospects,” he said. “I hope the fans enjoy watching me fight; usually people do. I’m not really a knockout puncher, but I throw over a hundred punches a round, so it’s exciting for the fans, so hopefully they’ll get excited about seeing me and they’ll tune in from here on out to see me go to the top.”