Tony Yoka knew this was the toughest fight of his career. On Saturday 14 May, at the Palais omnisports in Paris-Bercy, renamed Accor Arena, the French boxer suffered his first professional defeat against Congolese Martin Bakole.
Unlike his previous appearances in the ring, the 15-year-old Parisiani world, was not the big favorite of the evening as he was for the first time against a better ranked rival than him (13i). And he couldn’t do anything. “Martin was stronger today, I think everyone could see him”he thus recognized the heavy weight in the ring, under the whistles of Bercy’s spectators.
The 2016 Olympic champion now has eleven victories due to a defeat since his move to the pros in 2017.
Widely low in points at half-fight
From the first exchanges, Martin Bakole – who has 18 victories in 19 fights – made his power known: at the end of the first round, Tony Yoka even knelt down. The Frenchman was counted, shook his head, and then stood up.
The debates were a bit balanced afterwards, but the Parisian always seemed in trouble. He was largely losing points in the middle.
Was the Congolese, more massive but less mobile than the French, going to cover the distance? If it seemed to show some signs of fatigue, especially in the 8thi recovery, it was Tony Yoka who seemed completely exhausted in the last round.
Under the eyes of the 9,000 spectators at the Accor Arena, he was unable to rest on his technical palette against the more aggressive Congolese, and lost on points, by split decision of the judges (96-92, 95-93, 94-94 ).
“It’s time to go back to work”
With this first defeat, the Frenchman suffered a serious setback to his “conquest” world boxing tops and now he will have to fight to find opponents that will allow him to get closer to a world belt, his obsession from the beginning of his career. “It’s time to get back to work, maybe change some things”analyzed the interested, amateur world champion in 2015.
At the age of 28, Martin Bakole, the privileged sparring partner of the big names in the queen category, from the British Anthony Joshua and Tyson Fury to the Ukrainian Oleksandr Usyk, can knock on the door of the world au gratin and quickly aim for the top 10 of the global rankings.