Tony Yoka’s Heavyweight Triumph: Shattering Illusions and Records


Tony Yoka lost on Saturday for the third time in a row, this time against Ryad Merhy who seemed well within his reach. Perhaps one setback too many. Its future and credibility are up in the air. With only one fight left in his contract with Canal Plus, will the world champion have the strength to return to the ring?

“I don’t understand.” Stunned in his chair, staring into space, Tony Yoka has a hard time taking the defeat against Ryad Merhy. At the microphone of Canal Plus, his distress is painful to see. After setbacks against Martin Bakolé and Carlos Takam, this new disillusionment, suffered under the whistles of the Philippe Chatrier court, is perhaps too much for the man who now has 11 victories and three defeats. In March, after having undergone Takam’s law, he was already wondering: “I lost two fights, there’s no point in me going into the wall again for nothing. I’m going to take my time.” Yoka took his time, nine months, he came back and he lost. Again. The media plan was however clear after the gold in Rio. In 2017, it was expected that the heavyweight could have a chance to compete for a world title by 2022. No doubt too exposed, he exploded in flight.
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And now ? This new setback marks a halt, perhaps definitively, in the professional career of the French boxer, who fails to raise his level in difficulty. Since the defeat against Takam, the 31-year-old boxer had changed everything: he left the United States to be closer to his family and is now training in the United Kingdom, in north London. He plays under the orders of Don Charles, the coach of Daniel Dubois, who recently put world champion Oleksandr Usyk in difficulty. Changes supposed to relaunch the “conquest”. In vain. Today, trust has been achieved. Yoka can no longer let go in the ring, he holds back his blows, suffers from events and the decisions of the judges.


While he only has one fight left in the contract that binds him to Canal Plus and it seems difficult to renew given the course of events, his future is in limbo and his credibility damaged. He quickly dismissed the subject as he left the ring: “We’re going to discuss it with my team, I don’t think this is the time to ask the question.” However, it has never been more relevant: will we one day see Tony Yoka, 31 years old and 25th in the world rankings, in a ring again? His opponent of the day believes it. “Tony is a young heavyweight, reacted Ryad Merhy. If he wants to come back, he will come back. In my opinion, he will do it in the shadows. He will create a surprise on his return if he continues boxing. ”

A fight abroad to revive himself and get away from the heavy pressure that has weighed on him since he decided to turn professional? The solution exists. This defeat undoubtedly does not signal the end of his career but perhaps that of his dreams of a world belt in a category very dense in talent. “He hurts me and I don’t think he can get over it, lamented Fabrice Tiozzo in the columns of Le Parisien. Already before, it was complicated, now… OK, he changed teams around about him but, in my opinion, he should have done it well before. Only, there was no one to tell him. It’s a real waste.”

“Will he be able to raise his head? We can ask ourselves questions about the rest of his career, but Tony has already experienced defeat in Olympic boxing and the greatest champions have also experienced defeat, defended him his friend Souleymane CIssokho, bronze medalist in Rio in welterweight, on RMC. It all depends on the way. (…) He remains a champion. We are not going to erase his past. He must move forward. “He has the athletic qualities to be among the best. Afterwards, getting back up after a third defeat is going to be very, very, very hard.”

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