Delfine Persoon Faces Melissa St Vil in Belgium
By Phil Woolever
Highly regarded Delfine Persoon, 42-1 (17 KO) makes the 9th defense of her WBC lightweight belt this Saturday night in her native Belgium, against the solid US challenger Melissa St. Vil, 11-3-4 (1 KO).
Both fighters looked relaxed and cordial during Tuesday’s laid-back press conference, but a definite, intense vibe emanated from any calm before the upcoming storm.
“I’ve already had a lot of fights and seen a lot of styles, but I’m not the one who has to adjust,” Persoon told the media. “I’m going to use my boxing style, like always.”
“It’s up to her to find solutions.”
Persoon has to be considered a solid favorite based on everything from her more extensive track record and knockout ratio to the homeland edge in the bout’s location.
Still, the challenger is a very live underdog who always comes to fight and back up her nicknames, “Killer Mel” and “Little Miss Tyson”.
“I’ve already been in important fights,” mused St. Vil. “Saturday is just a fight like the others, but of course I want to win. In any case, I’m very enthusiastic because the reception here has been great.”
As they stood side by side in similar footwear Persoon appeared to be a few inches taller, but the difference in reach and the length of their arms was negligible.
While St. Vil has fought above and below the lightweight limit, if the unlikely issue of weight does become a factor it would probably favor Persoon, who has performed at 135 many times.
More than likely, St. Vil will charge quickly and try muscling the champion into some sort of brawl. She probably understands how hard it could be to simply outbox Persoon, who’s long been recognized as one of the game’s foremost practitioners. The visitor is also undoubtably aware of hometown advantages.
Cumulative experience is in Persoon’s corner, but St. Vil may likely have competed at a higher level recently, losing a close, disputed decision last year against Eva Wahlstrom for the WBC Super-featherweight title in Finland, where St. Vil scored a controversial knockdown that was not counted by the referee.
Persoon fought three times in 2018, but only her most recent opponent, Judy Waguthii, 16-8-4 (4), had a winning record.
It’s also not too likely Persoon, who’s held her title since 2014, will meet Mother Time and “grow old” overnight. Despite having well over twice as many bouts as St. Vil, at 34, Persoon is a year younger than her challenger and since debuting in May 2009 has actually been a pro for almost two years less.
Adding to the fight’s significance is widespread speculation that Persoon is the next opponent on Katie Taylor’s lucrative radar.
It seems quite likely that St. Vil was flown in to provide both a measuring stick and a suitable warm-up for Persoon’s anticipated meeting with Taylor, which could happen by the summer, perhaps on the undercard of Anthony Joshua versus Jarrell Miller.
Should St. Vil manage to pull off the upset, she could get the gig herself and find a whole new pay scale. There’s obviously plenty of motivation for each participant, which translates to something special for the fans.
“I’m really looking forward to this fight,” concluded Persoon. For now, I’m not thinking about Katie Taylor, but it is true that this fight is very important. Otherwise, if I don’t win, all the fights that came before this were a measure of nothing.”
“This isn’t a game like football (soccer) where a loss can be corrected the following week. Everything depends on that single result, that one moment.”
Local observers say it’s been more than 30 years since a boxing event near this stature has occurred in Kortrijk, an area near the French border that’s usually more concerned with elite bike racing.
Since Persoon and St. Vil have each demonstrated plenty of willingness to trade punches whenever necessary, it’s doubtful either competitor will employ a strategy that involves getting on their bicycle and giving ground.
So here’s to another weekend on the fistic calendar where some of the very biggest fights involve the ladies. What happens when they collide should make for another entertaining night in women’s boxing and the international scene overall.
If Persoon or St. Vil has their way, that trend will continue, and one of them will still be at the front of it.
(Photo by hbvl.be)