Is Tony Yoka the future of the heavyweight division?
By Juan Rodriguez: Tony Yoka has turned pro under Richard Schaffer’s Ringstar Sports in France. He is set to make his debut on May 20th Paris, where he is expected to be a big draw. The question is, now that 2015 World and 2016 Olympic champion has turned pro, does he have what it takes to transfer his amateur success to the pros?
If his previous success and accomplishments are any indicators, then smart money says yes. Yoka has already signed an exclusive, four year contract with French broadcaster, Canal +, before even stepping into the ring for his professional debut. It is evident that there is a lot of interest in Yoka’s career, and a lucrative contract with a big network is a sign of things to come.
His accolades, youth, charisma and star power in France will make him a very marketable fighter. At only 24, he has a long professional career ahead of him. This will give Ringstar the time they need to slowly work him into an elite heavyweight champion, much like Eddie Hearn did with Anthony Joshua.
While Schaffer brings him through the heavyweight ranks, fans will be able to see him grow every fight and will begin to take more and more interest in his career.
Yoka is charming and handles himself quite well in front of the media, something that is very important for a fighter that wants to me well known and wants to have an army of fans. The fact that he also speaks English and that Schaffer plans to take him to the United Sates will help Yoka become an internationally known fighter, rather than just a big name in France.
It’s pretty easy to see that standing at 6 ft 5 1⁄2 in and weighing in at a solid 230 pounds, Tony Yoka has the size to compete with any of the current champions in the future. His size and skill, combined with his speed will make him a dangerous opponent for any heavyweight.
The only problem I see with him is his chin, who to me is still a bit suspect. In the 2011 AIBA World Championship round of 16, Yoka was brutally knocked out by 2016 cruiserweight bronze medalist from Cuba, Erislandy Savon.
The upside is that Yoka’s training camps will be based in the United States under the tutelage of world class boxing coach, Virgil Hunter. Hunter, who also coaches former Olympians Andre Ward (Gold), Amir Khan (Silver), and Andre Berto is a defensive minded coach that will be able to help Yoka work on his flaws. Yoka is set for a three month training camp with Virgil before his pro debut in May.
Under the guidance of Hunter and with a combination of world class skill, size and experience, Tony Yoka has what it takes to become a unified world champion. Throw in his charisma and popularity and you have the future of the heavyweight division for the next 12 years.
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