Kielczweski prepared for challenge after sparring with champions

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After working out with some of boxing’s best, Ryan Kielczweski is sure he is a better fighter because of it.

Ryan Kielczweski and Rafael Vazquez

Ryan Kielczweski expects his ring work with world champions Gary Russell Jr., Jonathan Guzman and Javier Fortuna to benefit him during Friday's 126-pound bout against unbeaten Miguel Flores. (Joey Sylvester/Premier Boxing Champions)

“The Polish Prince” gained invaluable experience sparring with southpaw Gary Russell Jr. before sharing a fight card with the 126-pound world champion on April 16.

On that night in Mashantucket, Connecticut, Russell floored Irish challenger Patrick Hyland three times to earn a second-round TKO and retain his title, while Kielczweski shut out Mexican veteran Mario Macias Rorozco over eight rounds to win a unanimous decision.

“I thought Gary just had quick hands,” Kielczweski said, “but what I didn’t realize was how much pop Gary has. He has some real pop in his punches, and that helped me on fight night.”

Kielczweski, a 27-year-old native of Quincy, Massachusetts, said Russell provided both physical and mental lessons during their time working together.

“Gary really picked on a lot of my mistakes [during sparring]. Like when I backed up with my hands down, he’d counter me,” Kielczweski said. "He also passed on wisdom in words that made it easy for me to understand.

“So I have in mind things I can’t get away with against higher-level fighters. That was a great experience getting in there with a world champion, and he also benefitted from the similarities between my style and Patrick Hyland’s.”

Ryan Kielczweski (25-1, 7 KOs) intends to use that experience to his benefit Friday night when he takes on Miguel Flores (20-0, 9 KOs) in a headlining 10-round bout between rising 126-pound contenders at Turning Stone Resort Casino in Verona, New York (ESPN, 9 p.m. ET/6 p.m. PT).

Kielczweski will be seeking his third straight victory since his lone loss to Danny Aquino by eight-round split decision in April 2015.

Known primarily for his boxing prowess, the 5-foot-8 Kielczweski said he anticipates being more deliberate against Flores, even if it means standing toe-to-toe with the unbeaten 24-year-old Houston resident.

“The kid’s tough, but I think I have better skills,” Kielczweski said. “He’ll come forward and come to fight, but so will I. It’s gonna be a war.”

Kielczweski trains out of the Bayshore Athletic Club in Braintree, Massachusetts, as well as TKO BoxFit, which he opened in June in Weymouth, Massachusetts, along with 200-pound prospect Chris Traietti.

In addition to training with Russell, Kielczweski also has benefitted from working out with stablemates Jonathan Guzman, an undefeated 122-pound world champion, and recently dethroned 130-pound titleholder Javier Fortuna.

“I’m in there sparring with Guzman and Fortuna, and I’m right there with them,” Kielczweski said. “There’s really nothing I haven’t experienced, so there’s no pressure going into this next fight. I’m just doing me right now.”

Kielczweski knows that a victory over the talented Flores will elevate his standing significantly in the deep 126-pound division.

“The weight class is definitely stacked with some of the best pound-for-pound fighters in the world,” he said. “Seeing all these world champions that I've sparred with stay on top makes me confident that I belong up there.

“This Friday, I’m really focused on looking good. I want everyone watching to start talking and saying I belong up there. I want them to start sizing me up with the best in the division. I know that I’m on the right track and my time is coming.”

For complete coverage of Flores vs Kielczweski, visit our fight page.

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