Loic VENANCE / AFP
Friday, in Nantes, Tony Yoka has the opportunity to offer himself a first belt among professionals against the Belgian Joel Tambwe Djeko for the vacant title of the European Union.
Often mocked given the weakness of his opponents, Yoka should not underestimate Djeko, who has won his last eight duels and whose last setback dates back to May 2016.
There he is again at the H Arena.
It's not yet the one he's dreaming of, but French heavyweight Tony Yoka still has the opportunity to afford his first professional belt against Belgian Joel Tambwe Djeko for the vacant European Union title. , Friday in Nantes.
While waiting to be invited to the table of the very big and to have a world chance, the 2016 Olympic champion (28 years old) is already trying to continue his rise in the international rankings.
Third fight since September
After a long break imposed by the health crisis, the Parisian has worked hard and makes appearances in the ring: the fight against Djeko (31 years old, 17 wins including 8 before the limit, 2 defeats, 1 draw) will be his third since September.
Tony Yoka should have had a continental opportunity earlier, but his success in points against the German Christian Hammer, on November 27 in Nantes, having left traces (fractured right hand), he had been forced to push back the deadline from December to February.
It was then his opponent, the Croatian Petar Milas, who forfeited, forcing the European Federation (EBU) to find him a new opponent at another date.
A stronger opponent this time around?
Unbeaten in nine outings, the Frenchman hopes to give a new dimension to his career in 2021 and continue his quest for respectability and legitimacy after having been greatly mocked for the poor quality of his first opponents.
A victory against Djeko, even for a minor belt, should help him.
If successful, he could join the world top 10 and compete against much more prestigious boxers.
The formidable Englishman Joe Joyce, European champion Yoka dominated in the Olympic final in Rio, could be the first of them.
But before thinking of Joyce and a possible stepping stone to a world title, the Frenchman should not underestimate Djeko, who has won his last eight duels and whose ultimate setback dates back to May 2016.
A badass who spent time in prison facing Yoka
Nicknamed "Big Joe" for his large size (1.98 m) and never beaten before the limit, the Belgian, originally from Molenbeek, is a tough guy who frequented the gangs of this red light district on the outskirts of Brussels from a young age.
He even served three weeks in prison in the United States for a scuffle just before a fight.
A dented course, unlike that of Yoka, whose destiny was taken in hand by Canal + from his coronation at the Olympics.
As usual, the Frenchman has prepared for a long time in San Francisco under the leadership of his American coach Virgil Hunter.
For six weeks, he notably worked on the physique before rubbing shoulders with Djeko, who came from the light heavyweights and known for his speed.
In the United States, Yoka was accompanied by his wife Estelle Mossely, who will also be on the program of the Nantes meeting.
The 2016 Olympic champion (28 years old, 8 wins in 8 fights) will defend her IBO lightweight belt against the German Verena Kaiser (28 years old, 14 wins, including 6 before the limit, 1 loss).
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