By Mikko Salo at ringside: Finnish lightweight prospect ”Prince” Edis Tatli (22-0, 6 KO) scored a routine-like win in the biggest test of his career, when he outpointed former Ring Magazine super featherweight #1 contender and two-time trinketholder Mzonke Fana (32-7, 13 KO) of South Africa. The judges had the fight 117-111, 118-110, 118-110 in favour of the Finn, this writer had the score 118-111. The fight took place in Barona Areena, Espoo, Finland.
Although Fana is 40 years old and by all accounts in the twilight of his career, he is only three years removed from being rated as the #1 junior lightweight by The Ring Magazine. The South African proved that he still has something left in the tank, moved around the ring well and was hard to hit. The problem for Fana was that Tatli had the height and reach advantage and was able to use them well as the fight moved on. Tatli scored with left jabs, right crosses and an occasional left hook leaving Fana with little openings. Only the left jab was there for the South African and he couldn`t do much damage with it.
After the fight Tatli said that he was a bit tense and could have boxed better. ”I was too tight in the beginning, looking for a big shot. Fana was elusive and didn`t leave many openings. I was able to find the distance better as the fight progressed.”
The next step for Tatli and his trainer-manager Pekka Mäki is getting the 26-year-old into the boxing public`s eye in the US, where the biggest lightweight fights are. ”We have a plan where we would like Edis to perform in the US on a televised card. That way we could make him marketable there. There are a lot of options. In Britain there is a good market for lightweights, too. We have a lot going on”, Mäki told Finnish TV Channel MTV3. Fighting in the US would be a big step for Tatli who has fought all but one of his 22 pro fights in Finland, the one exception being a fight in Ufa, Russia in 2012.
If Pekka Mäki is able to follow through with the plan, Tatli gets a TV fight in the States and wins it, the ultimate goal would then be a fight for an alphabet trinket. The most likely trinketholder in their sights is Richar Abril, currently Transnational Boxing Rankings Board and The Ring Magazine #3 lightweight contender.
On the undercard popular super featherweight European titlist Eva Wahlström (9-0-1, 3 KO) made an emotional return to the ring after a 20-month layoff. After winning the European title in March 2012 the 33-year-old Wahlström has had severe health problems, suffering from a blood clot in the lungs and going through four elbow operations. The ring rust showed but the faster Wahlström had no trouble in scoring a 6-round UD win over Polish Anna Sikora (3-3, 1 KO).
The career of middleweight Niko Jokinen (21-2, 7 KO) is in severe jeopardy after he suffered a crushing 3rd round TKO defeat in the hands of Lithuaninan Virgilijus Stapulionis (22-2, 15 KO). Stapulionis had handed Jokinen the first loss of the Finn`s career with a points win in August and showed in the rematch that the previous result was no fluke. Stapulionis obliterated the slower Jokinen and knocked him down twice in the second round. Jokinen survived but in the beginning of the third round a third knockdown followed and the referee correctly stopped the fight.
In other contests welterweight Jussi Koivula (15-1, 4 KO) scored a 10-round unanimous decision over Hassan Ait Bassou (14-6, 8 KO) of the Netherlands. Light heavyweight Eemeli Katajisto (7-0, 3 KO) bested Frenchman Kevin Thomas Cojean (10-4-1, 3 KO) over 6 rounds and super middleweight Niklas Räsänen (2-0, 1 KO) TKOed debutant Norbert Olek (0-1) of Poland in the third round.