After his new setback, five questions about Tony Yoka’s future

Tony Yoka suffered a second defeat in a row on Saturday at the Zenith. Baptiste Autissier / PANORAMIC

DECRYPTION – To hope one day to be world champion, Tony Yoka will absolutely have to change things in the management of his career.

Should he change coach?

Tony Yoka has been building his project since 2017 with the same staff and around coach Virgil Hunter, a real reference in the United States, with whom there have already been some differences, especially during the preparation for the fight against Bakole. The defeat against Carlos Takam on Saturday showed that the 2016 Olympic champion was no longer progressing under his thumb and that he even tended to have regressed on certain points. Yoka has gained mass (113.9 kg) but lost in explosiveness, his dogmatic boxing seems stereotyped, static and cruelly lacking in imagination. And he still shows a lack of power in the shots that will have to be filled to become world champion. Does the Parisian also still take as much pleasure in boxing? Nothing is less sure. The time to change coaches may have come when he has to relaunch himself in a new challenge from the bottom. Why not by reuniting with Luis Mariano Gonzalez, the Cuban coach who enabled him to be Olympic champion?

Can Yoka still be world champion?

Has Tony Yoka touched his limits by losing in his last two fights? We can fear him, especially if he does not change anything in his boxing. He still has the potential to get, at least, a world chance. He remains one of the best technicians in his category and his arm speed is an essential asset for climbing the steps to the summits. The two rank defeats are problematic but not insurmountable to get a planetary belt. Remember that in 2017, just a few months after his coronation in Rio, Yoka had given himself between four and five years to become world champion. We are far from it today. His progress was weighed down by a one-year suspension in July 2018 (for an anti-doping rule violation) and the Covid. But 30 years old in heavyweight (he will be 31 on April 28) remains relatively young and he can still progress, at least until he is 34-35 years old. The objective of those around him remains the same: to be crowned world champion. On this level, nothing has changed despite the disappointment of Saturday evening.

Which opponents will Yoka be fighting in the coming months?

Winning against Carlos Takam would undoubtedly have allowed Yoka to challenge a boxer revolving around the 10e place in the heavyweight category where he thinks he belongs. His backhand will force him to go down a notch and aim instead for an opponent around the 20e-25eplace, where Yoka is most likely to be in the hierarchy currently. Until he has revived with several convincing victories in clashes where he has been able to work on his weak points, he will not be able to claim much better. But he must now chain the opponents quickly. He will return to the ring on June 24 against an opponent to be determined. He will then return to combat before the end of the year. Two victories, clear and flawless, are essential.

Will Canal+ continue to follow it?

Entering the Vivendi galaxy in 2017, Yoka signed an exclusive contract with the encrypted channel for fifteen fights with a contract estimated at 8 million euros in total. He therefore has two fights left to fight in front of the cameras of the French channel, which brings him strong media coverage but also considerable pressure on his shoulders. “We had gone on 15 fights to become world champion. It has not changed, we remain on the same perspective. They showed solidarity with us despite the loss to Bakole. We don’t ask ourselves all these questions (on the renewal of the contract, editor’s note)“, affirmed its promoter Jérôme Abiteboul before the clash against Takam. If Canal+ decides not to renew his contract, Yoka will then have to learn to scrap, perhaps abroad in fights less exposed to the media but above all less well paid. A new situation much less comfortable which will impose new sacrifices on him.

Should he change his image?

Tony Yoka will have to reinvent himself in the ring but also change his image, which has deteriorated sharply with the public. “La Conquête”, this marketing machine set up around him and programmed to bring him to the top is for the moment a failure even if it had the merit of putting a little light on boxing in France. Tony Yoka, whistled by part of the room at the time of the judges’ verdict but also during the fight, also perhaps stretched the stick to get beaten in the media or on social networks by seeing himself a little too quickly on the roof of the world. “I have a big mouth, I know that. But when I have to close it, I close it”, he conceded in an interview with Parisian a few days ago. The time for humility has come more than ever for the French champion.



Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *