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