This defeat, he did not really see it coming. French heavyweight Tony Yoka lost on points to Franco-Cameroonian Carlos Takam on Saturday March 11 in Paris, ten months after the first setback of his professional career. But as much as the defeat, certainly unexpected, against the powerful Congolese Martin Bakole on May 14, 2022 at Bercy, after a shaky preparation, stemmed from a certain logic, as much as that of the day raises serious and deep questions about the continuation of his career and his dream of a world title.
Saturday evening at the Zenith, the 2016 Olympic champion, who himself had warned that he had no room for error, could not find the fault for ten very tight rounds against the 42-year-old veteran, and finally bowed on a split decision of the judges (96-94, 96-94, 94-96).
"I'm very disappointed this time because compared to last year when I didn't have a good training camp, this time it went well. But Carlos also worked a lot and he was the strongest tonight,” admitted the French heavyweight after his fight.
A very strong opponent
To start again, Tony Yoka could have gone for an opponent with a modest pedigree, but it was against the experienced Carlos Takam, (now 40 wins for seven defeats and a draw) that he had chosen to make his feedback. Even if he was not the Carlos Takam of the great years, the one who put Anthony Joshua or Alexander Povetkin in difficulty, the Franco-Cameroonian was a very solid opponent in the category.
This fight between the two best French heavyweights, former training partners, was also long awaited by the world of boxing in France. "I didn't feel like coming back with a little fight. I said he was the strongest opponent I've faced so far, he's a heavyweight benchmark," Yoka said.
Under the eyes of several other Olympic champions - the hanballeur Nikola Karabatic, the ex-biathlete Martin Fourcade or the ex-boxer Brahim Asloum - the boxer with the most media coverage in France arrived in the ring shortly before 11:30 p.m. young and much taller than his opponent, Yoka, who had never been heavier (113.9 kg), was active and mobile from the start of hostilities, but Takam had control of the center of the ring.
" This is not the end "
Encouraged by the "Tony, Tony" descending from the bleachers, he was sometimes precise against Takam's massive carcass, but he especially suffered the compact boxing and the hooks of his opponent, who waltzed his gumshield during the seventh round. "He was the sharpest tactically tonight, he found the breach several times," he said, his face cut above his swollen left eye.
At 30, Tony Yoka now has eleven wins for two defeats and will have to lower his ambitions and fight even harder to find opponents likely to bring him closer to the top 10.
"I was counting on this fight to reconnect with victory", he confided to the microphone of Canal. "It's hard, more than last year" but "it's not the end", he added, assuring that he would "work technically, tactically" to return to the ring in the month. of June.