In a surprising upset, heavyweight fringe contender Martin Bakole (18-1, 13 KOs) defeated previously unbeaten 2016 Olympic gold medalist Tony Yoka (11-1, 9 KOs) by a 10-round majority decision in a one-sided contest at the Accor Arena in Paris, France.
Yoka, 30, was in trouble from the outset, being overwhelmed by the size, power, and blistering attack right out of the gate by the 277-lb Bakole.
After hurting fragile-looking 6’6″ Yoka with a series of heavy shots, Bakole dropped him. The batting continued after that, and it was a surprise that Yoka made it out of the round without getting stopped.
Fighting at home in Paris may have helped Yoka survive in a fight that arguably should have been stopped due to the nonstop punishment that Bakole was administering to him.
Tony Yoka va devoir relever le défi Martin Bakole#YokaBakole – La Conquête 💥💪🥊
— CANAL+ Sport (@CanalplusSport) May 14, 2022
In the fifth, Bakole dropped Yoka for the second time in the fight. That knockdown by Bakole took the fight out of Yoka, causing him to go into survival mode in rounds six through ten.
The judges scored it 96-92, 95-93, for Bakole and 94-94.
Yoka’s fencing style of fight, which enabled him to win an Olympic gold medal in 2016, was entirely ineffective against Bakole.
He walked through the weak point-scoring amateurish style of punches and punished him with the heavier, pro-style shos. Yoka looked like he wasn’t well-adjusted to fighting a real professional fighter after taking it easy in his first 11 fights of his career against exclusively ham & egger-type heavyweights.
Without any power to speak of, Yoka couldn’t keep Bakole off of him, and he was getting beaten to the pulp. It had to have been difficult for Yoka’s fans in the audience to have to sit there and helplessly watch their hero get thrashed by Bakole because their cheering wasn’t enough to raise his game.
What was surprising was how Yoka gave up after the fifth round. He was clearly trying to stay away from Bakole by running around the ring and not landing shots the way he needed for him to have a shot at getting the victory.
For an Olympic gold medalist to fight the way, Yoka did it’s troubling.
After this performance, Yoka needs to consider retiring because he’s not going to be given a world title shot, and it’s unlikely that he’ll ever be able to work his way into a mandatory spot looking like this.
The victory for Bakole was his seventh consecutive win since losing to Michael Hunter by a 10th-round knockout in 2018. Since that loss, Bakole has beaten these heavyweights:
- Tony Yoka
- Mariusz Wach
- Sergey Kuzmin
- Ytalo Perea
- Rodney Hernandez
- Kevin Johnson
- Haruna Osumanu
The victory for Bakole should help him get some better fights, and possibly a title eliminator. It would be interesting to see Bakole and Filip Hrgovic mix it up. That would be an excellent fight with the winner getting in line for a title shot.