Walhström [22(3)-1(0)-1] won rave reviews for the courage, guts and application she showed in Madison Square Garden on the undercard the massive Canelo Alvarez v Rocky Fielding clash, but it didn’t win the her fight against Katie Taylor.
It was the first time the Finnish fighter had lost as a pro and the WBC super featherweight champion missed out on the chance to become a two-weight and unified champion.
However, even after the scorecards revealed Taylor [12(5)-0] had claimed victory in landslide fashion, the 38-year-old couldn’t keep a bright smile from decorating her face.
Whilst her record proves the Nordic puncher isn’t accustomed to defeat, Wahlström admits she took solace in the fact she was bested by a world leader in the sport and only after she had given the IBF and WBA lightweight world champion one of her toughest tests.
“It was a great fight, and the better fighter won,” the honest Wahlström told Irish-Boxing.com.
“That is how sport is, one wins and the other loses. It was fair in every way. I think I performed well, but Katie is a better boxer than me, probably the best in the world. I knew it when going in to the fight. Still, I thought I had a chance to win.“
“That’s was why it was easy to smile when the fight ended – my first thought was that Katie absolutely should be the champion, no question about it.”
“I think Katie is the best in the world. She can and will achieve anything she wants, as long as she is healthy and has the right people around her. I wish her all the best in the future.”
The humble fighter, who retains her WBC 130lbs belt, took the ‘that’s my job’ stance when asked about the praise her performance received, but did state she felt brought the best out of the Bray favourite.
“I’m a fighter so that’s what I do,” she continued.
“It was a great fight and I think Katie gave her best performance so far, as a pro.”
One of the more notable aspects of Wahlström’s performance was her quick and aggressive start to both the fifth and eighth rounds where she bull-rushed Taylor.
The change in approach was something new in term of Taylor’s foes to date and played a huge part in the entertaining nature of the fight.
There were some pundits who suggested the Helsinki fighter was letting her hands go to entertain, but Wahlström revealed it was a deliberate switch to try and gain an upper hand in a fight she knew she was losing.
“No, it was not for entertaining,” she adds with a laugh
“My brain is too precious for that!”
“I tried a few different ways to box, but I was I little late no matter what I did. I heard her breathing heavily, so I tried to get her tired and was hoping she would make mistakes.”
Matching Taylor for fight or skill has proved impossible for all the Irishwoman’s pro opponents to date.
The formula to beat the London 2012 Olympian has yet to be written, but Wahlstrom did explain her tactics going into the fight.
“My main tactic was to trust my intuition and the knowledge I have. I knew Katie would be most dangerous the first half of the fight, but still, in the first round it did not seem too dangerous to go toe to toe with her, so that was what I did.”
“I knew I had to because I was the challenger. I knew she would be faster than me, but I tried to stop her attacks with good timing.”
While a win at such a venue and on such a card proved another big breakout night for undisputed hopeful Taylor, it was also special for her former amateur pro and most recent pro opponent.
Wahlström dreamed of just watching a fight at The Garden so, after a career in which she was twice told she would never box again, to compete in the ring in such a high-profile fight was special for the Finnish sporting hero.
“Sometimes it crossed my mind that it would be awesome to travel to New York to watch fights at Madison Square Garden, so of course I enjoyed fighting there myself,” refleced Wahlström.
“After all the health issues I have had over the years and all the doctors telling me I would not be able to box anymore, finding myself walking in to Madison Square Garden, I felt gratitude.”
“On the other hand, I was so concentrated on the fight that it did no matter where we met. I saw only the ring and Katie herself.”
“I would come back anytime, even with Katie in the other corner!”