Brooklyn’s Melissa St. Vil grabbed the vacant IWBF welterweight world title by unanimous decision against Sarah Kuhn in upstate New York.
It’s St. Vil’s first world title and more surprisingly at an unexpected heavier weight division.
Unafraid to fight in Kuhn’s area, St. Vil accepted the fight at Whitehall, N.Y. and after 10 rugged rounds was able to defeat the heavier and taller fighter. The sacrifice in height and weight did not deter the smaller St. Vil.
“She was taller, bigger and definitely the bigger person,” said St. Vil, 29, who normally fights at junior lightweight or lightweight, but could not pass up the opportunity to fight for a world title. “I did everything I as supposed to do. I ran and trained hard. I had to take it.”
Kuhn, who fights out of Albany, had beaten the talented Nicole Woods earlier this year in her hometown. In the fight on Saturday, the match was held in Whitehall which is not too far from her hometown.
St. Vil knew ahead of time that Kuhn (6-4-1) was going to grind straight forward like a steamroller. “My real weight is 130 and 135. So I went up to welterweight and had to just box her and doing angles and stuff like that. That’s was the key,” St. Vil (5-1-2) said, adding that she sparred with her gym mates including Ronica Jeffrey for this fight. “She was coming straight forward.”
Despite her boxing tactics it was inevitable that St. Vil would get hit by Kuhn. “She did hit me clean. She’s not too much of a big puncher. Amanda Serrano and Melinda Cooper are bigger punchers so her punches didn’t affect me too much,” said St. Vil who sparred with hard-hitters like Cooper and Serrano on various occasions. “She is a tough girl; I don’t take nothing away from her. I had to fight my fight and being that’s she stepped forward, I had to bob and weave and use overhand rights. I could not let her put her weight on me.”
After 10 turbulent rounds all three judges scored in favor of “Little Miss Tyson” St. Vil 97-93, and 96-94 twice to hand the IWBF title to the elated Brooklyn boxer. “Oh my goodness. I’m still like: ‘Is this real?’ I’m still. I trained hard for it. I knew I had to do what I had to do coming into her hometown,” said St. Vil by telephone. “I’m going to go to the gym tomorrow and show them my belt.”
Will there be celebrations? “I’m going to relax. I’m a laid back person,” she said. “I’m just happy that I won.”
Who will win #HOPKINSKOVALEV