At the top of a four-fight bill at The H Arena in Nantes, France, Tony Yoka claimed the vacant EBU European Union Heavyweight title with a final round stoppage win against Joel Tambwe Djeko on Friday night.
Yoka’s fight was being broadcast in the USA on ESPN+ for the first time, and the 2016 Olympic Gold medallist was keen to make a statement to impress a wider audience, but this performance against Djeko isn’t likely to set pulses racing across the pond as ‘La Conquete’ went through the motions over twelve rounds until the finish came.
After the national anthems and introductions, it was down to business, and it was a pretty passive start by both, but Djeko (17-3-1, 8 KOs) did land with a nice right hand in the opener.
The Belgian was throwing shots at long range, allowing Yoka (10-0, 8 KOs) to dominate off a snappy jab, combined with some solid, chopping right hands that clearly took the second for him.
The 28-year-old was measuring every shot, and working behind a tight guard that Djeko was struggling to pierce, and it was pretty much one way traffic without the Frenchman seriously hurting his man up to the fourth frame.
The home favourite upped the pace in the fifth and found the target with some flush shots, and the visitor’s defences were dwindling as he got caught with more frequency, but still Yoka remained patient as the fight went into its second half.
.@TonyYoka’s opponent wanted no more after this 😳
The Heavyweight contender gets the Round 12 stoppage 🇫🇷 pic.twitter.com/5twVRaDcea
— Top Rank Boxing (@trboxing) March 5, 2021
It wasn’t quite survival mode from the 31-year-old, but he was only attacking sporadically, and was tiring, with most of his punches only finding arms and gloves.
Yoka though, for his part, didn’t seem to have much of a plan B, and Djeko wasn’t really fazed by much that was coming his way as the contest reached the championship rounds.
👆👂 𝓣𝓱𝓮 𝓐𝓻𝓽𝓲𝓼𝓽
— H Arena (@HArenaNantes) March 5, 2021
The undefeated Frenchman, who is ranked at #7 by the IBF only truly stepped on the gas in the final round, and, after landing some heavy shots on the ropes, including an uppercut for one of the first times in the fight, Djeko turned his back on the action, and the fight was stopped.
Yoka will be eager to move on swiftly in 2021, especially seeing the progress the Silver Medallist from the same Olympics, Joe Joyce, has made thus far in his pro career, as a clash with Oleksandr Usyk looms for the Spring.
Yoka Mossely defends IBO belt
Yoka’s wife was also in action on the card, and Estelle Yoka Mossely defended her IBO Lightweight title for the second time with a dominant points win as expected against Germany’s Verena Kaiser (14-2, 6 KOs).
Yoka Mossely (9-0, 1 KO) last made a defence of her belt in October 2019, and had been involved in two low key eight round points wins since, but returned to championship action here.
The unbeaten 28-year-old showed good movement and speed throughout, and bossed the fight in general against a marauding opponent that struggled to nail the Frenchwoman cleanly, and spent most of the contest chasing the champion down to little effect.
On garde la ceinture 👊🏽 Merci à tous pour la force !! pic.twitter.com/w7YrPCmbz0
— Estelle Yoka Mossely (@EstelleMossely) March 5, 2021
The result was academic, and scores 98-92 twice, and one score of 97-93 ensured the title remained in France.
At Middleweight, Farrhad Saad (8-0-1) remained undefeated, as he took an eight round decision win against Borislav Ivanov (9-2, 5 KOs). Two verdicts at 80-72 and a third at 79-73 gave the home fighter a comfortable victory.
In a fun four rounder at Super Lightweight, two scores of 39-37 and a third at 39-38 ensured that Warren Esabe (3-0) won the battle of unbeatens against Mohamed Suleiman Kartoum (2-1).