The delicious IBF Heavyweight Championship title eliminator between 2016 Olympic gold medalist Tony Yoka and the undefeated high-ranked Filip Harjovich is said to be at risk due to a contract issue.
Until recently, Yucca, 29, was signed to take on marginal contender Martin Bacol on January 15 in a fight that was scheduled to take place in Tony France’s home of Paris. ESPN reports that due to COVID-19 restrictions, the Yoka vs. Bakole
With Yoka (11-0, 9 KOs) under contract for the postponed Battle of Bakool, IBF will issue a judgment On whether Tony should take this fight or whether he will be allowed to move on and face the undefeated Hrgovic (14-0, 12 KOs) in the title qualifiers.
If Yuka were to face Bakol, FIFA would need to select another contender to face Harjović in the title elimination. So far, Joseph Parker and Luis Ortiz have declined that invitation.
Yoka’s boxing skills would probably be too much for Bakool if that fight happened. Unfortunately, Yoka will lose the FIFA title contender, which would be a colossal missed opportunity for him.
Top Rank, Yoka’s co-promoters, have already begun negotiating with Hrgovic’s Sauerland promoters for the IBF title remover.
“All parties are waiting for the IBF to make a decision on whether Yoka-Hrgovic can move forward,” Top Rank spokesperson Evan Korn told ESPN.
It is understood from Jukka’s point of view that he wants to move towards the elimination of the FIFA title against “stone man” Hrgovic, whom he defeated twice in the amateur ranks.
With the win over 6’6 Hrgovic, Yoka will be mandatory for IBF Heavyweight Champion Oleksandr Usyk and will have the opportunity to earn millions from his fight or whoever holds the IBF title by 2023.
By the time the winner of Yoka vs. Hrgovic for a title against the IBF champ, probably 2023, not this year.
“I think you have to blame the French promoter just because we have a contract with them that’s still valid,” Pacool coach/manager Billy Nelson told ESPN. “I think it was unfair and unfair to be able to talk to someone when signing the contract.”
The real question is whether Yoka’s Top Rank promoters will look to buy him out of his contract with Bakole so he can take on Hrgovic?
If they were confident in Yoka’s ability to win that fight, it would make sense for them to do so. Yoka can earn millions if he defeats Hrgovic, and he has already proven that he can do so.
Bakol recently moved from his native Congo to Scotland
It’s going to be a massive payday for 28-year-old Bakool (17-1, 13 KOs), who is estimated to be 4.5× larger than his career highest purse.
Bacol, whose full name is Martin Bacol Ilunga, is the younger brother of WBC cruiserweight champion Ilunga Makabu, a fighter Canelo Alvarez could face on May 7 at DAZN.
In 2018, Bakool suffered his only career loss by losing to Michael Hunter by knockout in the 10th round. Since then, Bakol has rebounded with six straight victories, two of them over Sergey Kuzmin and Marius Wach.
He defeated Juka Herjović at the 2016 Olympics by a score of 2-1 to take a gold medal.
As professionals, Yoka and Hrgovic faced off against essentially weak opposition, which is odd given their amateur backgrounds. As they got older, they were meant to be quickly moved by their promoters rather than put up with sub-standards that did not match the talented fighters they encountered during their amateur days.
If the 29-year-old Yuka misses the Battle of Hrgović, it could be years before he finally makes his way into his position for a world title.