Tuesday, December 05, 2023  |



Tony Yoka is ready to leave his recent losses behind as he faces Ryad Merhy

Photo from Yoka's Twitter
Fighters Network

2016 Olympic super heavyweight champion Tony Yoka will return to action since he was upset in March by Carlos Takam when he faces Ryad Merhy at the famous tennis venue Roland Garros, Paris on December 9.

The bout will be televised in France on Canal+.

Yoka, who will be looking to arrest a two-fight losing streak, knows the importance of this fight if he is to continue his career as a noted heavyweight.

“I’m definitely making a comeback after two loses, after two tough years for me,” Yoka told The Ring. “Of course it’s important to get a win because it’s two loses now. I have to comeback with a big win, making a good impression to show my [weight class] I am still here and it was just mistakes because I had many problems and now I’m back on top.

“I changed everything, I changed the country, I’m changed the coach – I’m with Don Charles in England. I changed the style but also the mentality and mindset on the training.

“I know it’s an important fight for me. I’m really excited about coming back because I know a lot of people doubt me and think I’m done.”

Yoka feels facing the experienced Belgium-based fighter is a good place to jump start his once promising career.

“I think Merhy is a good opponent but also a perfect one for me because the way I started working with Don will style will fit perfectly with an opponent like him,” he said. “If everything goes well, I would like to have another fight in March/ April with a better opponent with a higher ranking. I need consistency, I need to fight a lot in 2024.”

Yoka (11-2, 9 knockouts) was a standout amateur, claiming gold at the 2015 World Championships and then at the 2016 Rio Olympics. He turned professional the following year.

In the pro ranks the 31-year-old has wins over former European champion Alexander Dimitrenko (TKO 3), faded one-time world title challenger Johann Duhaupas (TKO 1) and perennial contender Christian Hammer (UD 10). However, he lost against Martin Bakole (MD 10) and Takam (SD 10).

Merhy (31-2, 26 KOs) turned professional in 2013. The Ivory Coast born-fighter won his first 24 contests while fighting almost exclusively in his adopted homeland of Belgium. He lost for the only time in his career when he was stopped by Arsen Goulamirian (TKO 11) in March 2018.

The 30-year-old returned with seven wins, notably beating Samuel Clarkson (KO 4), Imre Szello (KO 7) and Zhaoxin Zhang (TKO 8) before coming up short against Kevin Lerena (UD 12).


Questions and/or comments can be sent to Anson at [email protected].