EXCLUSIVE: Meet Antonio Mireles, Who Opens ESPN Card Tonight

Be ready to meet one of the new faces of the heavyweight division as 25-year-old Antonio Mireles will open up Saturday’s ESPN telecast in a fight against Patrick Mailata, in a bout scheduled for six rounds taking place in Fresno, California. Mireles, who is best known for winning the 2020 U.S. Olympic Trials is managed by David McWater’s Split-T Management, and promoted by Top Rank Inc., and is looking to stand out given such a big opportunity.

Originally it was set for heavyweight Richard Torrez Jr., the Tulare, California-based 2020 U.S. Olympic silver medalist to open the televised card, but an injury forced Torrez to withdraw. With an open spot, Mireles now gets to make an impression on the ESPN audience as the man nicknamed ‘El Gigante’, will look to have a performance as big as his physical stature. 

Mireles, who trains at the legendary Robert Garcia Boxing Academy, which is known for a plethora of great lower-weight fighters, is staying as active as he can in the gym as life as a heavyweight is simply summed up as looking to find the best sparring possible. Mireles explained his sparring situation for this camp.

“This camp I am glad to say I got more sparring than the last couple [camps have] been a little tough to find some [sparring],” said Mireles. “We’ve got a couple of guys at the gym that are big enough for me to go with. I actually like it, because they’re tall enough for me, but they’re also a little lighter, so they’re quicker, which makes me adjust and adapt to their speed. When I come across real heavyweights they don’t seem as quick….last summer I was sparring [with] Andy Ruiz [Jr.] mainly. I was one of his main sparring partners, when [Ruiz] was getting ready for “King Kong” [Luis Ortiz]. So I would drive to his gym, like an hour away.”

The most interesting sparring partner is quite obvious though. The man who won the 2020 Olympic silver medal Richard Torrez Jr., who beat out Mireles for the Olympic bid, yet Mireles maintains a great relationship with him, and the two continue to spar despite sharing the same promoter in a weight class that isn’t the deepest in the sport of boxing. It speaks to the pursuit of excellence that Mireles conveyed to me. Mireles comes off as someone who wants to be great, first and foremost, and his ego is not involved with decisions when it comes to getting the best work possible. We don't hear about many fighters coming from Iowa, and for Mireles to make it this far shows that his work ethic is different than the average person.

“We [Richard Torrez Jr. and I] were training partners and sparring partners for all of 2019, I think it was when I was at the Olympic Training Center [as part of the USA Boxing program],” said Mireles. “Even before coming into the pro ranks, we had a good understanding of each other, we are both early in our careers if that time ever comes it won't be here for a while. You get the [sparring] where you can, and you can’t get much better work than with Richard [Torrez Jr.]

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