Three Strikes And Out? Tony Yoka’s Career In Tatters After Loss to Ryad Merhy – Boxing results

By James Slater - 12/10/2023 - Comments

The career of French heavyweight Tony Yoka is in dire trouble this after the 2016 Olympic gold medal winner suffered his third straight loss last night. During a busy boxing schedule, Yoka’s fight with Belgium’s Ryad Merhy flew under the radar some, but the result has generated quite a few headlines, all of them focusing on the bad place Yoka is in right now.

Fighting former WBA “regular” cruiserweight champ Merhy in Paris, France (scene of most of Yoka’s pro fights, all of them taking place in his home country), Yoka dropped a ten-round unanimous decision, the scores being 96-94 across the board. Merhy, who was coming off a decision loss of his own to Kevin Lerena in South Africa, is now 32-2(26), and it will be interesting to see where the 31-year-old goes from here.

Yoka, now 11-3(9) faces a long road back if he is to ever achieve any of the big things some people felt he would achieve after his Olympic triumph in Rio de Janeiro. Yoka, tall and athletic, defeated Joe Joyce in the super-heavyweight final, and he went pro in June of 2017. But after getting to 11-0, the wheels came off for the 31-year-old. Yoka was upset by Martin Bakole, who defeated him via a majority decision that absolutely should have been unanimous (the judges doing their utmost to try and serve Yoka some serious home cooking). That loss came in May of last year, and Yoka was then decisioned by Carlos Takam in March of this year.

Now, having three strikes against him, back-to-back, Yoka may well have gone as far as he can go at anything like world level. Yoka’s woe is a reminder that not all great amateur careers equate to glittering pro careers. Yoka may well fight again, and he might even pick up a few wins, but it really does look like Yoka will never threaten to win another professional belt of any kind. Yoka’s best win came in March of 2021 when he stopped Joel Djeko to win the vacant European Union heavyweight title.

In light of his recent bad spell, that win may go down as Yoka’s finest achievement at the pro level. One fight that could perhaps be quite interesting would be a Yoka-Joyce rematch at the pro level. Both men are coming off defeats, and maybe a “revenge” fight in the pro ranks would be a good comeback fight for Joyce. That said, Yoka may well decide to retire after losing for the third time in a row.

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