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Tony Yoka vs. Alexander Dimitrenko on July 13 in France

Image: Tony Yoka vs. Alexander Dimitrenko on July 13 in France

By Jeff Aranow: 2016 Olympic super heavyweight gold medalist Tony Yoka will be returning to the ring to face 36-year-old Alexander Dimitrenko next month in a fight at the Azur Arena, in Antibes, France. Yoka (5-0, 4 KOs) has been out of the ring for a year after being banned for missing three drug tests.

The last time the 6’7″ Yoka saw action was a year ago when he stopped British domestic level heavyweight Dave Allen in the 10th round in June 2018 in Paris, France. However, Allen looked like he hadn’t trained properly for the fight, as he weighed in at 260 pounds. That’s not the highest weight of Allen’s career, but it’s among the highest.

Tony Yoka weak in the power department

Yoka, 27, isn’t the biggest puncher, but he’s a got respectable power. He’s perhaps at the same level as the 6’7″ Dimitrenko in the power department. What sets Yoka apart from guys like Dimitrenko is his athleticism. Yoka moves well for a big guy, and throws nice combinations. He knows how to use his height and reach to his benefit to keep from getting hit. Yoka is good at evading pressure. However, he’s not perfect in that department though, as we saw in his controversial victory over Joe Joyce in the final the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Joyce wore Yoka with his pressure body shots, and he looked like the clear winner at the end of the contest.

Yoka facing Dimitrenko at the right time

The Ukrainian Dimitrenko is getting up there in age at 36, but he’s still useful for the top heavyweights as an opponent. Recently, Dimitrenko has suffered stoppage losses to Andy Ruiz Jr., Joseph Parker and Bryant Jennings.

Parker got Dimitrenko out of there quickly in stopping him in the third round in October 2016 after hurting him with a body shot. Dimitrenko might have lasted longer if not for the shot to the midsection from Parker, who’s not really a big knockout puncher despite having a high percentage of KOs on his record.

The timing of Yoka fighting Dimitrenko on July 13 comes on the same night as Joe Joyce’s match against Bryant Jennings at the O2 Arena in London, England. It’s quite possible that Yoka and Joyce will be meeting up in the near future in a rematch of their 2016 Olympic final. Yoka has two wins over Joyce from the amateurs, but most boxing fan felt that Joyce deserved last time they fought in 2016.

Yoka will need to keep his guard up against Dimetrenko

Dimitrenko has the height and reach to get to Yoka’s chin, but he lacks the power to cause him problems. Yoka will likely wear Dimitrenko down with his shots, and stop him at some point. Two years ago, Dimitrenko pulled off a minor upset in stopping Adrian Granat in the first round in 2017. Few boxing fans were expecting that to happen. Yoka cannot afford to take Dimitrenko lightly, because he’s capable of scoring a knockout if he lands the perfect shot.

Looking forward, Yoka will need to be matched carefully by his handlers in France if they want him to get an eventual big payday fight against Anthony Joshua in the future. Yoka doesn’t hit hard enough to be counted on to stop the better heavyweights in the division.

If Yoka faces someone with power like Dillian Whyte, Adam Kownacki, Alexander Povetkin or Joyce, he could get knocked out. That would ruin everything or him. That’s why it’s likely that Yoka will be strategically matched to keep him winning long enough to face someone like Joshua or Tyson Fury. Deontay Wilder would be out of the question for Yoka.

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