Jersey boys Julian Rodriguez, Vito Mielnicki Jr. thrill fans with first round KOs

NEWARK, N.J. – After nearly two years out of the ring, Julian Rodriguez looked like he couldn’t wait to get on with it. Pacing back and forth with a stern look on his face, he looked more like an adult than the fresh-faced upstart he was the last time he’d been in the ring.

When the bell finally rang, Rodriguez went right after Hevinson Herrera, boxing more aggressively than he had in recent fights, when an inadequately rehabilitated left shoulder forced him to alter his style.

Less than a minute after the first bell – 59 seconds – Herrera was on his back being counted out in their six-round scheduled junior welterweight fight at the Prudential Center on the Shakur Stevenson-Alberto Guevara undercard.

A left hook and a right hand, followed by a stiff straight left did the business for “Hammer Hands.”

“That’s what [the fans] like about me,” said Rodriguez (17-0, 11 knockouts), a resident of Hasbrouck Heights, N.J. who splits time training at gyms in Hackensack and Newark. “When they come here, they see a show.”

Rodriguez, 24, is now a father of two and told The Ring beforehand that his time away from the ring had allowed him to heal his shoulder, and grow as a person. He’s kept his training team the same – his father Alex Devia is chief second with Edgar “Butch” Sanchez and Angel “Ping Ping” DeJesus as assistants – but he’s now managed by hip hop mogul James Prince.

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Herrera (24-18-1, 18 KOs) of Barranquilla, Colombia falls to his twelfth knockout loss.

Rodriguez sold over $40,000 in tickets for this fight, a Top Rank source says.

Vito Mielnicki Jr., a 17-year-old making history as the youngest fighter to turn pro in state history, sold his share of tickets as well. Mielnicki, a resident of Roseland, N.J. who will start his senior year at West Essex High School in the fall, packed the building with fans wearing shirts adorned with his VM logo, and came directly at the 24-year-old.

A left uppercut followed by a left hook and a clean-up right hand anesthetized Tamarcus Smith (2-3, 2 KOs), leaving him unconscious for several minutes. The official time was 1:16, meaning Mielnicki will be able to get home in time for curfew.

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An exception was made for Mielnicki to turn pro because of his extensive amateur background, which consisted of over 160 amateur fight. His amateur laurels include four Jr. Golden Gloves National Championships, two Ringside world titles, plus first place finishes in the Silver Gloves and USA Jr. National championships.

John Bauza, a Puerto Rican prospect from nearby North Bergen, had a decent test on his hands against the hardworking Angel Sarinana. The scores – an 80-72 shutout on all three cards – does not represent how competitive the fight was.

Bauza (13-0, 5 KOs) began teeing off at the end of the first with his wide, sweeping shots, clipping Sarinana (10-9-2, 4 KOs) high on the head and disorienting his Mexican opponent. Sarinana came to earn his check and began finding his spots on the inside. Sarinana showed an iron chin as Bauza teed off with both hands, often dropping his hands to invite Bauza in.

The 21-year-old Bauza, who is trained by Robert Garcia, was most effective in the later rounds when he straightened out his punches and moved his feet to get at angles.

Kicking off the card was “Blessed Hands” Joseph Adorno, who baptized Adriano Ramirez with a second round knockout in their eight round scheduled lightweight bout. Adorno (13-0, 11 KOs) dropped Ramirez with a sneaky left hook set up by jabs. Ramirez rose up but could not escape the follow-up punches, and was downed again moments later by a pair of right hands. Referee Sparkle Lee waved the bout off at the 1:12 mark without a count.

The undercard was shown live on ESPN+ in the United States.

The post Jersey boys Julian Rodriguez, Vito Mielnicki Jr. thrill fans with first round KOs appeared first on The Ring.

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