It’s been frustrating baby steps so far for 2016 Olympic Gold Medallist, Tony Yoka, but the Frenchman goes for his first title this Friday night at the H Arena in Nantes.
ESPN+ have picked up the rights for TV in America, which suggests that a move into the big time is expected in 2021 for Yoka.
First, he must impress in a vacant EU Heavyweight title tilt over 12 rounds against Belgium born but Essex-based Joel Tambwe Djeko.
The belt is a secondary title to the European strap, and the belt has lay dormant for some nearly three years, and the last occupant was Otto Wallin back in April 2018.
Yoka (9-0, KO7) needs to have the stabilisers taken off going forward, but he has dealt with what has been put in front of him soundly enough so far.
Dave Allen took the Frenchman ten rounds in June 2018, but couldn’t see the contest out as he was hammered to defeat in a one sided affair, and Yoka backed that win up with a pair of three round wins against Alexander Dimitrenko and Michael Wallisch.
A step up in class in September last year saw him stop former world title challenger, Johann Duhaupas inside a round, and that was expected to be a launchpad, but his last outing was a pretty flat one, winning every round of ten against Christian Hammer in November 2020.
There have been questions regarding PED use, with Yoka penalised for missing three drug tests in 2017, and there are also questions on just how good he is and can be.
A statement win is needed, and Djeko could represent an opponent that Yoka can look good against.
Djeko (17-2-1, KO8) hasn’t fought in anywhere near the class of Yoka, but is unbeaten in his last eight contests since a 2016 thriller against Craig Kennedy in Wales that he lost on a split decision.
To say that Djeko was recently scheduled to fight Danny Williams, who is merely a shell of his 2003/4 self, tells you much that you need to know about his calibre.
Djeko was last out in January 2020, knocking out John Cortez inside a round in Brussels.
Prediction: Yoka needs to make a real impact here to impress the global audience and secure meaningful fights this year. I think he can hit Djeko hard early on, and score a stoppage win inside three rounds.
Yoka’s wife, Estelle Yoka Mossely (8-0, KO1) makes a second defence of her IBO Lightweight title on the bill, and she squares off with Germany’s Verena Kaiser (14-1, KO6).
Kaiser’s sole career defeat came in an IBO challenge at Super Welterweight in April 2018, where she lost on the cards to Mikaela Lauren, while Yoka last defended her gold back in 2019, winning every round against Ana Romina Guichapani.
She has fought twice since, both eight round wins against novice opposition, but she should have enough to take a points win here.
French Middleweight, Farrhad Saad (7-0-1, KO0) faces Bulgaria’s Borislav Ivanov (9-1, KO5) over six rounds, and he should be able to come through on the cards.