Tony Yoka: “Bakole Will Be My Toughest Fight But I’ll Beat Him”

Tony Yoka Heading into the Biggest Test of his Career

Martin Bakole (L) poses, Tony Yoka in training
Martin Bakole (L), Tony Yoka | Credit: Victoria Stewart/Daily Record, Anne-Christine Poujoulat/AFP

Tony Yoka Expecting Tough Test Against Martin Bakole


Throughout 2021, French heavyweight Tony Yoka (11-0, 9 KOs) expressed a desire to take his career to the next level. The 30-year-old from Paris, France wants to test himself and face a top 15 ranked heavyweight. That moment will arrive on May 14 as he will step into the ring to face Martin Bakole (17-1, 13 KOs) at the Accor Arena in Paris-Bercy, France.

Bakole is ranked #9 by the WBO, #14 by the WBC, and #15 by the IBF. He represents someone Yoka believes is the right opponent at the right time in his career. During an interview with the French outlet RMC Sports, the 2016 Olympic super heavyweight gold medalist gave an assessment of his upcoming opponent.

SHOWING ULTIMATE RESPECT

(Translated from French) “I think it’s going to be my toughest fight. Frankly, he is strong, tall, and slender. He is very powerful and tough. He is an opponent who will give me a hard time, and he will have to be wary of it until the end of the fight. We are somewhat at the same level in our career.”

This fight didn’t come about without its share of backroom drama. They were supposed to fight on January 15. However, it was postponed because of COVID-19 protocols in France.

Team Yoka moved on and were in negotiations to fight Filip Hrgovic in an IBF eliminator. But Bakole’s manager, Billy Nelson, claimed that Yoka was contractually obligated to face Bakole and petitioned the IBF. The sanctioning body sided with Team Bakole.

When asked about the off-and-on drama behind the scenes, Yoka said it’s water under the bridge. Ranked #5 by IBF, #10 by the WBO, and #13 by the WBA, his concentration is on taking care of business. He views this as a turning point in his career and the beginning of his march towards a world title. In the end, the Frenchman is on a mission to show he’s legit and fully believes he will pass this pugilistic exam with flying colors.

“I’m in good shape. I did a very big training camp and I will be keen to show it to you on Saturday […] What I know is that I will beat him.”

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By: Michael Wilson Jr.

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Michael is the host of boxing podcast "Pound 4 Pound Boxing Report" and is a writer/contributor for 3kingsboxing.com.