In boxing, one of the biggest perks for champions or journeymen alike is the opportunity to travel. To see new lands, meet new people, live new experiences while getting paid and doing what you love might be the best part of the sport, besides a hefty paycheck. It looks like Brooklyn, New York’s Melissa St. Vil (8-2-3) might soon need extra pages on her passport.
If all works out, St. Vil, or “Little Tyson” as she is known, will be going back home to the Caribbean country of Haiti to fight in front of her people on Thursday, November, 10th. Although not much info has been released, even to St. Vil and her manager Brian Cohen, the event should take place in the capital of Port-Au-Prince. The event will be to benefit those hurt by Hurricane Matthew which recently ravaged the small country which shares an island with the Dominican Republic.
“We don’t have an opponent yet so we are still waiting for that. I am happy to go back home because I used to live in Haiti and before I moved out there I used to go there every summer,” St. Vil said exclusively to Prizefighters.com “Most of my family is there. Haiti is a great place. It feels good to go back and help out especially with the hurricane that just happened. For me it is important to go help because those are my people, I have family there, I have friends there. It hurts my heart to see people suffer and see the people that lost everything. I want to go back and be able to give back. For them to know they have a champ among them and I want them to know that I am here helping. I am happy to go back and let them see me fight and they can forget about their troubles for a little bit. It’s big for me.”
The proposed bout will mark the third in a row for the 33-year-old St. Vil outside the states but originally, despite being Haitian-American, she wasn’t the first choice for the local promoters to have fight in Haiti. Instead it was a fellow female fighter out of Gleason’s Gym in New York City where they both train.
“Alicia Ashley (former multi-time WBC super-bantamweight champion) was going to go fight out there, either Haiti or Chile, she told them since I am part Haitian just let Melissa go and fight there and she (Ashley) will fight in Chile. That is how it came about.”
St. Vil is coming off two successful excursions overseas, winning the vacant WBC Silver super featherweight title last April in New Zealand via unanimous decision over Baby Nansen and then defending it in China against Katy Wilson Castillo in July. Those two trips weren’t her first to ply her wares in other countries.
“I actually did an exhibition in Peru against Olivia Gerula (before traveling to New Zealand). I think it is awesome because they show female fighters more love out of the states anyway. They have more respect for us and I don’t mind the travel. You get to see new things and meet new people. I am on the side of to go travel for a fight,” St. Vil stated. “Both are beautiful places. In New Zealand everybody spoke English. It was really nice. In China we fought in a busy city, a lot of people. The food was different. New Zealand has many beaches. China has interesting food, you know, different. They both are different cultures but I enjoyed both places. I liked them both equally the same”
Even though she is technically traveling to these new places for work, St. Vil understands all work and no play makes “Little Ms. Tyson” a dull girl so on the long plane ride to these exotic locales, Melissa has a little more than the fight on her mind such as all the tourists traps she would like to visit while there.
“I have both of them on my mind. I am going to a new place so I am seeing new things so it’s a little bit of both but more so I am thinking about the fight.”
A darling of the east coast boxing scene, St. Vil was present during the historic fight between Heather Hardy and Shelly Vincent back in August. The 10-round fight which Hardy won was televised by the NBC Sports Network marking the first time in years a female boxing match was broadcast on American TV.
“I just hope for 2017 that people start to recognize women’s boxing in the states. Give us the respect and just recognize us more,” St. Vil explained. “We work hard, we put in the same work as the men and I just hope it changes. We already had Claressa Shields win the Olympics for boxing twice so I just hope they put us on a higher platform. I thought it was cool that they finally had a female fight on TV. They are both good fighters. It was entertaining. I thought they had the most entertaining fight on that card. I am just happy they are finally putting female fights on TV.”
When asked about possibly throwing her hat into the raging hot featherweight division, four pounds under her weight division, where you find the likes of WBA and WBC champion Jelena Mrdjenovich, WBO champion Amanda Serrano and IBF champion Jennifer Han, the always eloquent St. Vil is succinct and to the point. “126 pounds would be a little bit too light for me but ’28, ’30, ’35 or ’40, we can rock and roll.”