The H Arena in Nantes, France hosts a heavyweight twelve-rounder at the top of its bill this Friday, as a high National and International hope steps up in class once again.
Parisian, Tony Yoka (8-0, KO7) was the 2016 Olympic Super Heavyweight Champion, and a lot rests on his shoulders with many Gold Medallists going on to achieve great things in the professional ranks.
He takes on perennial gatekeeper, Christian Hammer (25-6, KO15) this weekend, and the 28-year-old will want to catapult himself into title contention relatively quickly, much in the mould of Rio Silver Medallist, Joe Joyce, and Bronze winner, Filip Hrgovic.
Tony Yoka v Christian Hammer can be seen in the UK on Premier Sports and Boxnation.
‘La Conquete’ Yoka has enjoyed a relatively stress free start to his paid career so far, with only Jonathan Rice taking him a full scheduled distance, and the American was competitive in a six round loss.
The recently retired Dave Allen very nearly lasted the distance in June 2018, but was badly beaten before mercifully a halt was called to the fight in the tenth and final frame.
The Allen contest would prove to be Yoka’s last contest for a year, as he was banned by the French Anti-Doping Agency, who served him with a twelve month suspension for missing three drug tests between July 2016 and 2017.
An appeal was subsequently rejected. 2019 saw two back to back third round stoppages of Aleander Dimitrenko and Michael Wallisch.
2020 has only seen one fight for the Frenchman so far, impressing in dropping former world title challenger Johann Duhaupas twice, and then stopping his fellow countryman inside a round.
Christian Hammer is an unpredictable type, and the German based Romanian has had some decent wins in a 30 plus fight career.
A record of 7-3 after his first ten outings, Hammer then went on a ten fight winning streak against the likes of faded versions of Danny Williams (TKO4) and Kevin Johnson (UD10), but he was defeated for a fourth time in February 2015, retiring after eight one sided rounds against Tyson Fury.
Again, Hammer rebuilt, and he hasn’t been stopped since. An impressive split decision win against Erkan Teper in October 2016 was followed by a seventh round stoppage victory over David Price. Hammer was down in the fifth, but rallied to stop a tiring Price two rounds later.
It’s been a case of every step up in class has been a loss for Hammer since, with Alexander Povetkin thrashing him on the cards over twelve in December 2017, and Luis Ortiz doing the same over ten in September 2019.
Hammer was last seen in December of the same year, stopping Bolivian veteran, Saul Farah inside the first round in Germany.
Prediction: Yoka will want to continue to make statements in his wins, and an early finish against a man who has lasted the distance with the very best in the division certainly would be one.
Hammer doesn’t have that much ambition left after a hard career, and may elect to try and survive to hear the final bell here. Yoka can solve the Hammer puzzle, and force a stoppage or retirement win around the halfway mark.