ON a windy Friday night (September 25) inside the Paris La Défense Arena, Tony Yoka did everything right as he stopped former heavyweight contender, Johann Duhaupas, in just 87 seconds. Here in France, this battle of countrymen was our equivalent of Frank Bruno vs Joe Bugner, and most experts predicted that Duhaupas – who in 2015 lasted into the 11th round with Deontay Wilder – would prove as durable as Bugner did back in 1987.
But even more surprising than the early finish was the crowd in attendance: A capacity of 5,000 showed up (the next day, in the same venue, Racing 92 and Saracens clashed in rugby’s Heineken Cup to a permitted crowd of just 1,000).
Duhaupas, now trained by former kickboxer Jérome le Banner, landed the first blow before getting his jab firing. But Yoka, without trainer Virgil Hunter due to travel restrictions, was just biding his time and soon attacked with a series of hurtful blows. A straight right thumped past Duhaupas’ left glove and connected with the top of his head. Perhaps too proud to take a knee, the 39-year-old made the mistake of standing directly in front of Yoka.
More punches landed – Yoka couldn’t miss the head or body of his opponent – before a devastating right uppercut was followed by another right and Duhaupas went down. The veteran pluckily regained his footing quickly and listened to the eight count.
It merely postponed the inevitable.
Yoka resumed his attack. He mixed his punches intelligently before a shot to the left of Duhaupas’ temple sent shockwaves down his body and caused his knees to bend and dip. Another right uppercut then dropped Duhaupas again and the referee Jérôme Lades wisely stopped it at 1-27.
A bout with former French champion Raphael Tronché could be made next. Tronché, 13-0, was ringside and taunted Yoka, much to the 8-0 (7) prospect’s amusement. But Yoka, who defeated Joe Joyce to win Olympic gold in 2016 and could be back in the ring in November, has other targets on his hit list.
“I want to fight five times in the next year,” he said. “Joyce and Dereck Chisora are two men I would like to fight. I’m not saying Chisora beats [Oleksandr] Usyk but he will remain in the rankings and that will give me the opportunity to fight him.”
On the same bill, Yoka’s wife and fellow 2016 Olympic champion, Estelle Yoka-Mossely, returned to the ring four months after giving birth to their second child.
She extended her professional record to 7-0 by outpointing Aurélie Froment over eight rounds.