Boxing: third defeat in a row for Tony Yoka, beaten by Belgium's Ryad Mehry

Tony Yoka lost, again. On the centre court of Roland Garros, this Saturday, December 9, the French boxer disappointed and disappointed himself by losing for the third time in a row. Overtaken in impact by a conquering Ryad Mehry, the gold medallist in Rio in 2016 saw his career plunge into very troubled waters.

Tony Yoka lost by unanimous decision to Ryad Mehry at Roland Garros on December 9, 2023. AFP - MIGUEL MEDINA

By: Yohann Le Coz Follow


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More than 800 days, that's the gulf that separated Tony Yoka from his last success in the noble art. The counter will go up again. Against Ryad Mehry, a heavyweight-light boxer who had moved up a category for the occasion, the Frenchman lost for the third time in a row by unanimous decision (96-94 for the three judges) and sees the rest of his career definitively compromised.

While Tony Yoka respected the expression "observation rounds" for the first two rounds, the same was not true for Ryad Mehry. So yes, the Belgian observed, but above all he showed the intentions with which he moved up the weight class and into the ring at Porte d'Auteuil. A saving in the volume of his strikes, but not in the violence with which he delivered them.

Read alsoBoxing: "A fight in Côte d'Ivoire would be great," says Ryad Merhy, Tony Yoka's opponent

Jabs, not much more

If Yoka distributed the jabs, not enough to the liking of his coach who constantly asked for more flow, he struggled for a long time to offer anything else. By dint of being boxed on a single shot, Merhy ended up setting his traps. First in fits and starts in the first three rounds, with most of his attacks blocked by the Habs' defenses, before the fourth looked like a demonstration.

The Abidjan native countered several times and shook the former Olympic champion. To the point of pricking his pride and forcing him to go and reduce the distance to start a fight. A game in which Yoka was the weakest and at the end of which he went back to sit on his stool with a scarred face.

Calmed by Don Charles' words, Yoka came back with the intentions that made up his original plan: direct front arm, distance and volume in the shots, waiting for the gap to place his back arm. A strategy that paid off temporarily and allowed the former Olympic boxer to win a few rounds. It wasn't enough to trouble Mehry, who came back strong late in the eighth round and then in the ninth to keep scoring.

« We thought we'd done enough »

When the bell rang for the last time, Don Charles' protégé was certain that he had won thanks to his front arm, which often hit, but without doing much damage, and feeling that he had generally defended the Belgian offensives effectively. "We thought we'd done enough to win," he told Canal+. Much more angry than disappointed, his coach added another layer: "I want to know what the judges looked at. [...] Do the judges count the blows that are blocked by the arms? »

Asked about the rest of his career, the Rio 2016 medallist remained doubtful. Will it continue, will it not? One thing is for sure, tonight, Tony Yoka said goodbye to his dreams of world glory.

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