Boxing: Tony Yoka hopes to bounce back against Carlos Takam

Communicators and promoters hastened to present this fight as the last chance

Boxing: Tony Yoka hopes to bounce back against Carlos Takam

Communicators and promoters hastened to present this fight as the last chance. They're not really wrong. Saturday, March 11, around 11 p.m., boxers Tony Yoka and Carlos Takam compete in the heavyweight category at the Zénith de Paris. A 100% French duel which could seal their respective careers, at least, give it a slightly favorable inflection.

It's been ten months since Tony Yoka, 30, fell from his pedestal after kneeling in the first round against Congolese Martin Bakole on May 14, 2022. A first loss in his professional career for the gold medalist at the Rio Olympics, who has not fought in the ring since. A resounding setback for the one who has so far slipped into the shoes of an impatient young first – sometimes described as haughty.

In the media light since he put on his gloves as a professional, Tony Yoka took the time to rebuild himself in Las Vegas, in the United States: "Four months of eating boxing morning, noon and night. It's very hard for the body and for the mind, but we have to go through it. The motivation and determination that we can have in a fight, we draw it from these moments, ”explained the boxer to Agence France-Presse (AFP).

With 11 victories in 12 fights, Tony Yoka must confirm his dispositions, if he still wants to hope to conquer the title of heavyweight world champion one day. The 2.01 meter forecastle is expected at the turn by his audience, but also by his broadcaster Canal. Chance of the calendar, he only has three clashes left in his contract. An extra-sporty Damocles Sword that could transcend it as well as inhibit it. "I am expected, I have no room for error. But I don't want to talk about last chance or redemption. My defeat against Bakole closed a chapter of my life, I have to open a new one, "reacted Yoka to L'Equipe in early March.

Carlos Takam, a springboard to the best in the world

For his return, Tony Yoka did not choose an opponent with a modest pedigree in the person of Carlos Takam. "I didn't want to come back with a little fight. I wanted to come back with a strong fight and I think that's the case, ”acknowledged the boxer at a press conference. At 42, his opponent of the day has nothing more to prove, except that the hour of retirement has not yet come.

With his compact and aggressive style, the Franco-Cameroonian of 1.87 meters for 117.6 kg is a physical challenge. The latter has faced the best boxers in the world over his 47 fights (39 wins, 7 losses, 1 draw), without benefiting from a promoter powerful enough to open the top of the table to him. For Tony Yoka, it could above all be a springboard to the biggest names in world boxing.

The two men know each other well. They were training partners in Joseph Germain's room in Noisy-le-Grand (Seine-Saint-Denis). That was about ten years ago. Carlos Takam, in his early thirties, was in his prime, and young Tony Yoka still a 96kg "weak". Not really a point of comparison then.

But Carlos Takam is now closer to the exit than his good years and remains on two defeats, one on points against the Russian Arslanbek Makhmudov in September 2022, and a loss against the Englishman Joe Joyce by stoppage of the referee at the 6th round, in July 2021. For the WBF heavyweight world champion, a defeat against Tony Yoka could put a "fist" stop to his career.

In their diametrically opposed styles – compact and powerful for Takam, agile and with good reach for Yoka – the two men will be keen to mark the evening, in the ring as well as in their personal ambitions. "I really want people to remember this fight, for people to say 'We still want more'", added the Franco-Cameroonian, who prepared for the meeting at base, to AFP. of "boxing, physical preparation and meditation". A bit of serenity before a fierce fight.