Tony Yoka vs Ryad Merhy Preview December 9th, 2023
Heavyweight hopeful and former Olympic gold medalist Tony Yoka of France takes on former WBA Cruiserweight Champion Ryad Merhy of Ivory Coast this Saturday, December 9th. The 10-rounder will be held in Yoka’s hometown of Paris. Yoka last fought in March when he dropped a 10-round split decision to veteran Carlos Takam for his second straight defeat after Martin Bakole beat him by a 10-round majority decision 10 months earlier. Mehry last saw action in May when he lost a 12-round unanimous decision to Kevin Lerena .
Yoka vs Merhy Betting Odds
- Ryad Merhy +220
- Tony Yoka -280
The 31-year-old Yoka has basically flown under the radar since turning pro in 2017 and while he got off to a pretty good by going 11-0 with 9 Ko’s he’s now lost has last two fights and sits at 11-2. He fought in the 2012 Olympics in London, England and then beat Joe Joyce of England for the super heavyweight gold medal at the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. He also defeated Croatia’s heavyweight hopeful Filip Hrgovic at the Games.
Yoka had also beaten Hrgovic and Joyce at the 2015 World Amateur Championships in Qatar on his way to the gold medal. There’s no doubt he was a fine amateur but he’s fought just 81 rounds as a pro and hasn’t really faced the upper echelon of the division as of yet. The reason for his lack of rounds is due to fact that he stopped nine of his first 11 opponents but has now gone the distance against Carlos Takam and Martin Bakole as well as Jonathan Rice and Christian Hammer. Rice took him the six-round distance in Yoka’s second pro outing in 2017 and Hammer went 10 rounds with him in November, 2020.
All 13 of Yoka’s opponents have had winning records at least and he’s also stopped Travis Clark, Ali Baghouz, Cyril Leonet, Dave Allen, Alexander Dimitrenko, Michael Wallisch and Johann Duhaupas. He gradually stepped up in class when taking on Takam and Bakole and struggled. Things might not get any easier this weekend either as Merhy is a former world champion even if he is relatively unknown to most boxing fans. Yoka possesses more than enough power in his fists as 81.8 per cent of his wins have come by stoppage and he’s certainly one of the bigger heavyweights out there at 6-feet-7-inches tall with an 82-inch reach.
Merhy is also 31 years old and now fights out of Brussels, Belgium. He’s boxed 167 rounds since making his pro debut in and climbs into the ring with an impressive mark of 31-3 with 36 Ko’s. He’s reportedly 5-feet-11-inches tall with an unlisted reach, so gives up eight inches in height to Yoka and has fought most of his career as a cruiserweight with his last two bouts coming as a heavyweight but weighing in at a maximum of 217 lbs during his career.
As far as power is concerned, Merhy matches Yoka, at least in the cruiserweight division as 83.9 per cent of his wins have come by way of stoppage, including his last five victories. He captured the vacant WBC International Silver Cruiserweight Title in 2015 and added the vacant WBA Inter-Continental Belt the next year and defended it three times before being stopped by Arsen Goulamirian in the 11th round in a shot at the interim WBA Cruiserweight Crown in 2018. He then managed to win the interim belt by halting Imre Szello in seven round in October, 2019.
In July, 2021, Merhy stopped Zhaoxin Zhang in the eighth round to take the WBA World Cruiserweight Title, but then moved up to the heavyweight division. Merhy has fought mainly in Belgium and France throughout his career against European-level competition and 20 of his 33 opponents have entered the ring with a winning record. His biggest wins have been against the likes of Williams Ocando, Mas Alexander, Mitch Williams, Nick Kisner, Demetrius Banks and Samuel Clarkson.
Yoka sure isn’t very well known as a former Olympic Super Heavyweight Champion due to poor marketing and the fact that he’s never fought outside of his homeland as a pro. It’s hard to figure him out as he has the size and power but can often be quite lacklustre in the ring even though he has a pretty good chin. A third straight loss here would seriously damage his career and that’s why he should be well prepared and motivated. He’s got a huge height advantage on Merhy and will probably have a decent weight edge on the former cruiserweight too. Yoka can be outboxed but Merhy is more known for his power. Since Yoka’s slow-moving pro career could be over with a loss here, I’m expecting him to be ready for the challenge and to emerge with a victory.
Yoka’s size should be the difference.
Play: Yoka -280 @ BetOnline.ag
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