Eva Wahlstrom Wins Close Against Determined Challenger St Vil
by Phil Woolever
HELSINKI, FINLAND-Eva Wahlstrom built up an early lead, then held off a determined charge by Melissa St. Vil to earn a majority decision in a close, hard fought contest at the Helsinki Cultural Center.
Wahlstrom fights out of Finland and St.Vil resides in Brooklyn, New York, USA.
Both fighters showed excellent skills and conditioning, in a bloody battle that merits early consideration for the “Fight of the Year” list and the type of give and take affair that fuels the argument for 12 round championship bouts in the ladies’ divisions.
Scores were 96-94, 97-93 and 95-95. It was the fourth title defense of Wahlstrom’s WBC super featherweight belt.
Neither boxer is really known for their knockout power, but each one landed plenty of solid shots. Wahlstrom weighed in at 128 ¾, St Vil 129 ½ . Though different body types, they appeared to be much the same size in the ring.
“It was a good fight, I think 97-93 or even 96-94 was about right,” said Wahlstrom. “I think I was better in the first half of the fight. Melissa was better in some of the second half, but I think I won the last two rounds. As long as I was boxing with good movement and using mostly straight punches as I planned, I did well, but when I started brawling with her I lost rounds.”
Wahlstrom came out fast and surged ahead on the scorecards, pursuing “Little Miss Tyson” from an aggressive straight up stance behind strong, lead left jabs and short hooks. The challenger showed equally good footwork as she stayed on her toes and danced backward in a defensive crouch, before trying to jump back in with counters.
St. Vil began to rally in the middle rounds, and made it very close by the end. She opened a cut on Wahlstrom’s right cheek in round 7, and eventually Wahlstrom had a trifecta of such nicks.
“I got three cuts, and all from head butts,” explained Wahlstrom, who improved to 22-0-1 (3). “They were nothing to worry about. I only got concerned because I knew my mom was sitting in the audience and she wouldn’t like seeing me bleeding.”
By the end of the bout, some ringside media had the fight up for grabs. An appreciatively cheering sellout crowd of around 1,300 would definitely like to see another chapter in the rivalry.
St. Vil, now 10-3-4 (1), was unavailable for comments at press time. She was a gracious sport and applauded the decision when it was announced, but she had to be disappointed.
“I wasn’t worried about the result,” said Wahlstrom. “My corner told me I won by three or four rounds. I was calm throughout the fight, and even though it was a tough one I felt like I had control. That said, I was relieved when I won because you never know for sure.”
“I’d definitely give Melissa a rematch. I once slipped the same time as she was throwing shots, and now she’s saying it was a knockdown. It was not, the video shows she stepped on my foot and that’s why I fell. That makes me mad. She made a good fight, but there is no way she won it. Still, absolutely we could fight again.”
For now, Wahlstrom told ThePrizefighters.com she would be taking a well deserved rest before any decisions on the immediate future, which could include a fight, her first outside Finland, in Kazakhstan.
“I was actually cutting weight since October, First for another fight that got cancelled, then three times for this fight. So I was too small, underweight and quite empty in every way. But I am still very strong mentally and did good, but I can be much better,” she reflected.
It was a busy night for the champion. Besides having to brawl with St. Vil, Wahlstrom was a promotional partner in the successful F4L company show, while her husband light heavyweight Niklas Rasanen lost his fight on the same card.
“Of course is was a lot of stress also being involved in the promotion, with big decisions to make. But I like being able to decide about my own career and also what to offer the audience. That’s the only way to show a Finnish audience what boxing is about, a style of art and science, not violence.
“I’m also studying architecture and furniture design and will graduate next month as a Bachelor of Art. I have two kids with Niklas, so there’s a lot going on. Boxing and life is a journey we share. My sorrow is his and his is mine, but also the joy is double!”
That indeed sounds like a lot to juggle for anyone, including a “small foot operation” coming up.
Friday night, in a blazing Helsinki ring, just facing Melissa St. Vil was more than enough.
(Photo courtesy of: www.Photolies.com )