By Sam Geraci
Photos: Emily Harney
This Friday, for the second time in as many weeks, the co-main event of the ESPN2 Friday Night Fight series features two undefeated, unproven and relatively unknown fighters trying to make names for themselves as Ryan “The Polish Prince” Kielczweski (16-0, 3 KOs) of Quincy, MA, takes on Miguel “Mikito” Soto (11-0, 11 KOs) of Arecibo, Puerto Rico, in an eight-round featherweight bout in Salem, NH.
Although both fighters are seeking to gain exposure and to establish themselves as legitimate prospects, it is important to note that Kielczweski has already earned a reputation among insiders as one of the more promising young talents in the US.
At the age of 18, Kielczweski was a highly touted amateur with more than 150 fights who was recruited by famed adviser Sampson Lewkowicz upon turning pro and then signed by promoter Lou DiBella.
“Knowing that someone [Lewkowicz] who has discovered Pacquiao and Sergio Martinez finds something special in you is a great feeling, and Lou DiBella is one of the biggest in the world. This is my time,” said Kielczweski.
In the following interview with Fightnews, Kielczweski speaks freely about his matchup with Soto, his transition to the pros, his lack of knockouts and much more.
Ryan, this week is a big one for you. You’ll be turning 24 and fighting in your first televised bout this Friday. How does it all feel?
It feels great and I’m really excited for it. Finally, I’m getting my first opportunity fighting on live TV. It’s going to be great exposure.
Are you nervous at all?
I was actually going over this yesterday with my father, and I’m really not at all. I’ve had such an unbelievable training camp this time around. I took time off of work, which I’ve never done before, and this is one of the first times I feel 100 percent ready physically and mentally.
What do you do for a living outside of boxing?
I work all the time. My main job is working as a beverage merchandiser, and on the side I do a little construction. This is the first time before a fight that I haven’t worked seven days a week. It’s been a great camp.
How long was your camp?
Well, I actually started in the strength and conditioning back in March. You know, the fight kept getting pushed back. I was supposed to fight Jose Pedraza but stuff fell through, so I started camp around then but I really kicked it up about six weeks ago.
Did you do anything differently in this camp, especially considering that Soto is a southpaw?
We did switch it up a lot for this camp. We really focused on getting our strength and conditioning up for this fight. We did get some southpaw work in, but I’m not really concerned about fighting southpaws because I’ve fought all types of styles as an amateur. I had over 150 amateur fights. I’m never concerned about styles.
How has your amateur experience helped you as a pro?
I’m a lot more relaxed than most guys. I don’t really get too worked up before a fight. Some people who’ve only had a few amateur fights lose all of their energy in the locker room. It’s also helped me in the gym because I know when to take a day off and when to go hard.
Can you describe the transition from amateur to pro and then your development as a pro?
Actually, when I was a junior, I was actually the type of fighter that would punch and throw bombs for three rounds and go crazy. I started to relax as an amateur. When I went pro, it was nerve racking because I went from being number two in the country to fighting guys with terrible records. You are always asking yourself, “What if this guy beats me? What if this guy beats me?” Because of that, I started my career as kind of a reckless fighter always looking to land bombs but then transitioned to the boxer I am today.
What do you mean by “the boxer I am today?”
Someone described me a few weeks ago and said it that I’m a counter-puncher that comes forward. You know, that’s pretty accurate.
What do you do best as a fighter?
The left hook to the body is my money shot. In the gym I kill everyone to the body. You know, even though I tend to throw a hundred punches per round, I don’t always throw enough body shots.
You are an undefeated but you have only three knockouts in sixteen wins. How do you explain your power and KO record?
I don’t have the one punch to KO somebody, but I do have the power to hurt someone and people in the gym say they haven’t been hit by a fighter like me. You know, I think my work situation has really impacted my KO record because I work all day and then go to the gym. Because of that, I don’t always feel as prepared for fights as I should. In every fight, I’ve hurt my opponents but I haven’t jumped on them because I was worried about my conditioning. This fight is going to be different.
Do you think you’ll stop Soto? Are you going for the KO?
Hopefully. You know, he’s never been in there with anyone like me. I’m sure he has pretty good punching power, but the guys he has fought were there to get knocked out; I’m not.
Are you familiar with Soto and his style?
Like I said, styles don’t really bother me. I’ve been doing this so long that I’ll adjust to whatever he brings.
Speaking of that, I read somewhere that you’ve been fighting since six. What brought you to the ring?
My brother used to box and they had these shows once a year called St. Paddy’s Day shows in Boston and I used to go watch my brother. I always wanted to do it and after years of tugging at people’s shorts they finally gave me a shot. I’ve been doing it ever since.
On Friday, how do you expect to use your experience and style to combat Soto?
I’m gonna establish the jab early and then take him into deep waters and drown him; he’s never been past four rounds.
With an impressive showing on Friday, what are you looking for next?
I’ll leave that to the promoters. I’m just trying to stay focused on this one.
How long until you’re ready to challenge someone in the top ten or top twenty?
It’s tough to say. I’m still learning everyday in the gym. You know, pick up something from anybody. When the time is right, the time is right. Hopefully, it comes sooner than later. I want to be like that kid [Evgeny Gradovich] who beat Billy Dib on Friday Night Fights. Maybe I’ll get an opportunity in March.
You are with one of the more influential promoters in all of boxing in DiBella Entertainment. How did it start?
It was actually through my adviser Sampson Lewkowicz. He got word of me and then we met with DiBella at the Mohegan Sun after one of Sergio’s fights. He’s one of the biggest promoters in the world and to have Sampson scout me out is huge. Everything is coming together.
I have to ask you about you’re nickname and something that publicist Kevin Rooney, Jr. of DiBella Entertainment said about you. He said you were colorful. What does that mean?
(Laughs) I don’t know what he means by that, but I always try to put on a good show. You know, I come into the ring with the sunglasses, throw a hundred punches and slip my opponent’s shots. Even though I don’t always get the knockout, I try to entertain the fans.
What about the nickname?
I am Polish and proud of it, but I’ve gotta get the Rosetta Stone and start working on my Polish (laughs). The nickname came from my coach a few years ago and it has just stuck with me.