Why Should I Care: Harper v. Wahlstrom Preview

As women’s boxing continues to gain momentum, a true rising star is ready to up the ante. Inside the FlyDSA Arena, Sheffield, England on February 8, Terri Harper will look to cement superstar status against Eva Wahlstrom.

While eyes will be on the Matchroom Boxing-produced main event that features Kell Brook facing off against Mark DeLuca, it is a title fight on the card that has a chance to steal the show. On the latest “Why Should I Care“, FIGHT SPORTS looks into the bout for the WBC Women’s Super-Featherweight Championship.

One of the most exciting young boxers out there today, Terri Harper (9-0) has climbed up the ranks since fighting professionally in 2017. The 23-year-old from Yorkshire, England won the WBC International Female Lightweight Title in her sixth fight, and two fights later won the IBO Super-Featherweight Title off of Nozipho Bell via TKO in 2019. The competition increased back in November, as she fought and beat Viviane Obenauf (14-6) via unanimous decision.

Now, Harper faces the toughest challenge of her career, as Wahlstrom (23-1-2) is considered boxing royalty. She has held onto the WBC Super-Featherweight Championship since 2015, defending it five times. Her last fight out in November, Wahlstrom beat Consolata Musanga via unanimous decision. Although she is 1-1-1 in her last three fights, Wahlstrom is hoping to regain some momentum against the younger Harper.

At 39, Wahlstrom still has a lot left in the tank. There were reports of her fighting NABF Super Featherweight Champion Mikaela Mayer before Harper stepped into the role. With a win over Harper, Wahlstrom may get the opportunity at Mayer, and, if possible, rematch against a busy Katie Talyor.

Harper recognizes Eva’s greatness, but sees this fight as a true coming-out party for her.

“Eva is a solid opponent who has shared the ring with some great female boxers over a long career,” Harper stated during camp to Matchoom. “She has more experience than me but she is nearly 40 and I feel it is my time now, to take the baton and get the win. I feel like I have long range and won’t get dragged into a brawl. We have seen that she is open to that back hand so that is what we have been working with in the gym, I want to get back on my knockout streak!

“It’s a 50:50 fight but I feel like I have got youth on my side. I am so hungry to win this and have prepared for the best version of Eva Wahlstrom possible. I have put 110% into this camp because I know that if I prepare correctly that I can change my life on February 8. I have dreams of boxing in America and I see that as the next goal for me after winning this WBC title.”

Taking time off to continue her studies, you could never tell with Harper’s overall skillset. She is being compared to Taylor, the Irish sensation who is currently one of the top performers in Matchroom. Taylor (15-0) beat Wahlstrom back in 2018 inside Madison Square Garden, retaining her WBA and IBF Lightweight Titles. That is someone who Harper considers an idol. The two met in 2019 , with a starstruck Harper dreaming for the chance to fight her one day.

It is not far off to say that a win against Wahlstrom could propel her to a bout against her idol. While all eyes are on a potential Taylor-Serrano bout, Harper is OK waiting as long as she’s the next woman up. Her confidence has grown through the years and it is her belief she can get the job done against Wahlstrom and Taylor.

In regards to the latter, she’s not the only one. Heavyweight Dave Allen, who is fighting on the same card against Dorian Darch, is one of many fighters who believes the hype around Harper and women’s boxing in general. Speaking to talkSPORT.com, Allen, a neighbor of Harper, sees something within the young fighter.

“I honestly think she will be the woman to beat Katie Taylor, she’s that good,” Allen stated. “And I’m not just saying that because she’s from down the road, I’ve never seen a stronger person in my life. She’s so strong, athletically she’s so gifted. I back her to beat every super-featherweight in the world, I think she’ll beat every lightweight in the world as well. I genuinely think she’s that good. She’s 23 years old, I think in three or four years’ time she’ll be the pound-for-pound greatest woman boxer in the world.”

There is a distinct class of great female fighters competing today you can name off of the top of your head. Amanda Serrano, Cecilia Braekhus, Claressa Shields, Jelena Mrdjenovich, Yesica Bopp and Katie Taylor come to mind. While Eva Wahlstrom is also on the list, her name could very well be secured with a win over Harper. As for the aforementioned Harper, her name and overall stock can skyrocket with a win on Saturday in her backyard.

Over the past few years, female bouts have become the “must-see” fights on cards. Think Alicia Napoleon v. Hannah Rankin, Heather Hardy v. Shelly Vincent and Katie Taylor v. Delfine Persoon. Can history repeat itself? Harper v. Wahlstrom and Brook v. DeLuca will be shown on DAZN and Sky Sports. The action all begins at 2 p.m. ET.

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