Tony Yoka claims he’s being avoided, seeks big knockout over Petar Milas
Rising French heavyweight Tony Yoka will face the unbeaten Petar Milas in a scheduled 10-round contest at Roland Garros in Paris on Friday.
Yoka, who is a star in his homeland after winning gold at the 2016 Rio Olympics, knows that he has a target on his back.
“It’s a big chance for [Milas], a big step up,” Yoka (10-0, 8 knockouts) told The Ring. “He’s a very good boxer, he’s got pretty good skills for a heavyweight; he switches from southpaw to orthodox. He’s not a big puncher but he puts his punches together well. [Victory] will put me in a good place.”
This will be the popular 29-year-old’s first fight since a middling performance against Joel Djeko in March, though he feels that there were mitigating circumstances.
“It was a short camp for Djeko,” revealed Yoka, who scored a 12th-round stoppage. “I spent a year in France, away from the U.S., and I wasn’t able to train with my coach. The fight wasn’t that good but I controlled the fight and got the win.
“Since then, I went back to [Hayward, California, in] the U.S.A. with [Virgil] Hunter and have progressed and feel better now.”
“La Conquete” intends to make a statement by sending his fans home happy.
“A big knockout, this is what everyone wants at heavyweight,” said Yoka, who expects a 14,000 sell-out at the famous tennis arena. “I know I’ve got skill, I’m very fast and now I know how to put power into it – it’s a good combination.”
Yoka is in a hurry to face the best heavyweights around and isn’t shy about saying so, with one particular old rival topping his hit list.
“I can’t wait to step up, I’m a little bit sick of these fights, I really want to fight someone in the top 10,” he stated sternly. “I want to fight [Olympic final opponent Joe] Joyce. A few months ago I said I’d like to fight [Joyce] and we started discussions about it, then he chose [Carlos] Takam, who everybody knew he’d beat.
“He said he doesn’t want to fight me because he wants a title shot. He’s waiting on [Anthony] Joshua. Everybody knows if Joshua beats [Oleksandr] Usyk, Joshua will fight [Tyson] Fury, and they will fight at least twice. They don’t have time for him, so you have time for me, stop hiding – let’s do it.
“I’m sick of fighting guys behind me, I want to fight top level guys. I’m ready for anyone. The top 3, 4, will not fight me until I’m in a good position. The guys who are around me in the rankings don’t want to fight me: Joyce, [Dillian] Whyte – all of those guys. I want to fight everybody.”
Milas (15-0, 11 KOs) turned professional in 2015. The 26-year-old Croatian has campaigned mainly in the shadow of his more celebrated countryman Filip Hrgovic, however, he became only the second man – after Anthony Joshua – to stop teak-tough Kevin Johnson (TKO 8) and also owns a win over Francesco Pianeta (UD 10). He appears to be a good opponent, but 23 months of inactivity isn’t ideal preparation for the biggest fight of his life.