Heavyweight Tony Yoka trained in public, and in family Wednesday in Nantes, three days before the 7th fight of his career scheduled Saturday at the H Arena against the German Michael Wallisch.
Olympic heavyweight champion in Rio in 2016, Yoka, calm and sharp, was watched attentively and respectfully by a few dozen young fired boxers in the Nantes region, and even some migrants also invited by the organizers.
"We sold the 6,000 seats," said Yoka's promoter Jérôme Abiteboul (Ring Star). In Antibes in July, before the previous fight, the training in public had taken place in the open air, in a ring specially erected near the ramparts of the city.
After a little session of "shadow boxing", to warm up with the super-welter weight Souleymane Cissoko, another member of the Ring Star team, Yoka put on the gloves and dropped the tee-shirt, revealing her tattoos, to get his bearings in the ring of the H Arena, more used to hosting handball, against his coach Edward Jackson.
"We are very happy to box in Nantes and I hope that you will have a great show on Saturday," said Cissokho, bronze medalist in Rio, in the center of the ring, microphone in hand. He will face in curtain the Russian Dmitry Mikhaylenko.
"It's hot to see the reception of the public when we return to France," added Yoka. He had already boxed in Nantes in 2014: a semi-final of the French amateur championship, won "by KO, it's a good sign," he recalled after a session of selfies in the audience.
"The bulk of the preparation is done, but we still need to come to the ring a few days before, to get into the bath.I am in the continuity and the goal is to land at the end of the year in the Top 15 worldwide, "added Yoka at a press point on the ring.
"I do not take this fight lightly because it must also allow me to prepare the fight of the end of the year against the world N.16": another German, Christian Hammer (30 fights, 24 victories including 14 before the limit). It will be in Paris.
© 2019 AFP