2016 Olympic heavyweight champion Frenchman Tony Yoka (11-1, 9 KOs) returns after his first career loss. The new opponent will be veteran Carlos Takam (39-7-1, 28 KOs).
Compatriot Yoki is similar in size to the previous counterpart, who for the first time defeated one of the main heavyweight prospects. Is there any chance of intrigue and what is Tony preparing for?
Yoka confidently smashed one opponent after another, and then settled on a sparring partner for Usyk and Joshua
Tony Yoka was considered one of the top heavyweight prospects until recently. The Olympic champion, a good boxer, looks very beautiful in the media, despite the fact that he is French, and France is definitely not a boxing country. He defeated Joe Joyce at the same Olympics, although quite close and debatable. In the same place, he defeated Philip Hrgovic. That is, the resume is quite powerful.
In addition, as a professional, Tony gave out quality boxing, good results and victories over opponents with worthy names. Of course, no stars, but still good. In the fifth fight, Yoka defeated David Allen by TKO in the tenth round. Sparring partner Usyk and dozens of top heavyweights. In the sixth – Alexandra Dimitrenko – by technical knockout in the third round. The next fight is a technical knockout in the same third round of Michael Wallisch. The next one is a knockout in the first round of Joan Duapa, with whom Deontay Wilder fiddled for eleven rounds. After that there was another good fight against Christian Hammer.
The summary, as for eleven fights, is impressive. If you are not, then at least you heard the names for sure, and this is a rarity for many athletes. Even entering a long fight in the fifth fight against a fighter of the level of David Allen is a good sign. This means that the fighter will not be marinated for a long time, but they see opportunities and potential in him.
And so it happened. In the spring of 2022, Tony Yoka met with Martin Bakole. At that time, the 28-year-old Frenchman had one defeat – from Michael Hunter by technical knockout in the tenth round, also a strong record (Mariusz Wach, Kamil Sokolovsky, Kevin Johnson – a victory over everyone), although not as powerful as Yoki’s, and the desire to show that Yoka is not the only boxer important for France.
Of course, Martin was not the favorite. Yoka had to defeat him, if not ahead of schedule, at least by a confident decision of the judges. Bookmakers did not pay attention to the preparation factor with the best – Bakole sparred with Usyk more than once, and with Joshua. And he was just motivated. But Yoki did not work out anything.
Martin started quickly and confidently. Despite the difference in size, the smaller Bakole reduced the distance and constantly hit. Yoka was knocked down in the first round. He got up, but could not oppose anything to his opponent. Bakole regularly went to a comfortable medium distance for himself, poured punches, and Tony still could not figure out how to stop it. Fifth round – another knockdown. These are generally the first knockdowns in Tony’s career.
Twitter. Tony Yoka knocked down by Martin Bakole
Yoka still gathered. It was not possible to reverse the course of the fight, but to correct the situation – yes. Nevertheless, the level of the Frenchman allows you to get out of many situations in a better way than the circumstances indicate.
However, the battle was lost. Two knockdowns, most rounds lost and overall lost fight. Surprisingly, not all judges agreed with this. Bakole won by majority decision. That is, two gave him the victory – 96-92 and 95-93, and one gave him a draw – 94-94. Yes, the difference between a 96-92 win and a 94-94 draw is huge. Where the third judge was looking is a mystery of no lesser magnitude.
Martin has not entered the ring since then, although he attended top training camps. Yoka also didn’t box, and a comeback bout was scheduled against veteran Carlos Takama, who is shorter than Bacole but has long arms.
Who is the favorite here?
Of course, Tony Yoka. By a wide margin, but not as much as it could be. You can bet on it for 1.14. On an opponent who is much smaller, has long been beaten by different tops and is twelve years older, they give 5.0. If not for that defeat a year ago, they could have given all 12. But then this fight would hardly have happened.
Can Takam do anything against Yoke? Only if Tony allows it. Carlos is 42 years old. His best years are far behind, and during them the Frenchman has never been in the top. So, between 2018 and 2020, Carlos held up surprisingly well again: after an early loss to Derek Chisora, Takam did not lose for four fights, beating Senad Gashi, Jerry Foster, Craig Lewis and Fabio Maldonado. But are they better than the French? Absolutely not. Victories that should have happened anyway.
Then the same thing happened as it should have happened – a defeat from Joe Joyce by technical knockout in the sixth round and a decision loss from Arslanbek Makhmudov, a pseudo-Canadian of Russian production, who had previously walked with one hundred percent of knockouts. Nothing surprising.
Yes, Takam is still holding on and taking the hit. Conditionally, of course. Thanks to the style and stance, when the head is strongly hidden in the shoulders. For when the blows reach, Carlos is just as hard as everyone else – four of his seven defeats were early. Long arms and a short opponent is a clear attempt to work out the mistakes Yoki’s team made in the ring with Bakole.
Will the young Frenchman be comfortable? If he does everything correctly and correctly, as was the case in most (except for one) fights – yes. There is no problem for the 201 cm Yoki to beat the 187 cm Takama. Tony is quite disciplined, technical and smart. He has a heavy shot and clear work from a distance. And most importantly, Takam is not Bakole. He’s a good competitor for a comeback, but nothing more.
Will Martin’s question be closed if he wins? Absolutely not. Only in revenge, but it can take place later in the same year. And now Yoka must return and be sure to do it brightly. Fans and experts will not accept another victory for a boxer of his level and hopes.
And then you can go to close the issue in the French derby against Bacole. But it will be possible to talk about the prospects for a successful rematch only after the victory, if any, against Takam.
Tony Yoka vs Carlos Takam will take place on Saturday, March 11, in Paris. Estimated start of the battle – 23:00 Kyiv time.
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