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Little Miss Tyson—that’s what she’s called. Melissa St. Vil has been nicknamed after one of the best knockout artists ever to step in the ring: Mike Tyson, the former undisputed heavyweight champion of the world.
Late on Friday evening, the Haitian-American St. Vil stepped into the ring at the sold out boxing event at Kulttuuritalo in Helsinki, with the wish and will to snatch the WBC female super-featherweight title from the Finnish Eva Wahlström, who has successfully worn the turquoise and gold world championship trophy around her waist since 2015.
With tattooed back and leg, muscular hands and thighs, her eyes squinted like a sniper’s, St. Vil started swinging wild hooks to the body and head of Wahlström, who was about the same height, but appeared smaller, and after colliding with such strong force Wahlström resorted to evasive tactics already in the first round.
When the first was over (the round lasts 2 minutes), both fighters had landed decent shots to their respective bodies. In the second, St. Vil kept pushing with hard blows to the body. Wahlström countered with some clean straight lefts and rights.
In the third round, St. Vil appeared stronger and landed more punches. “Cut her down, daughter of north,” someone from the audience started shouting. It was the famous battle cry from the great Finnish novel The Unknown Soldier. (Hakkaa päälle, pohjan poika! In this case, the word “son” was replaced with “daughter”.)
The fourth and fifth were close for both fighters, however, the fifth leaning more to Wahlström’s side.
“Take it to the streets!” a mean-looking black guy shouted from St. Vil’s corner with that accent and intonation I’d heard in Brooklyn, New York—where St. Vil lives—during my travels there.
It was the beginning of the eight round.
St. Vil started swinging wildly, chasing Wahlström across the ring. Wahlström slipped and slid away from the fury of Little Miss Tyson.
This fight would stay in the ring.
When the bell rang for the tenth, the women showed no signs of slowing down the pace. Again, an even round for both fighters.
In the end, Wahlström won with the majority decision, the judges scoring 96-94, 97-93, 95-95 for Wahlström.
After the fight, Wahlström greeted me with a gentle smile. She had a nasty cut below her right eye.
How did her punches feel? I asked.
“They weren’t really hard blows. More like a push but she was a very strong fighter,” Wahlström said.
St. Vil has been compared with Mike Tyson. Do you think that is a fair judgment?
“St. Vil has won only one fight by a knockout.”
She appeared to bring the animal out of you.
“I don’t know about that . . . ,” Wahlström laughed wildly.
“An animal, ha-ha-ha-ha-ha.”