London, UK (January 5, 2024) - Trainer Don Charles remains steadfast in his support of France's Olympic super-heavyweight champion, Tony Yoka, despite Yoka's recent setbacks in the ring. Yoka, with a professional record of 11 wins and 3 losses, encountered defeat in his last three fights against Martin Bakole, Carlos Takam, and most recently, Ryad Merhy.
Charles, who collaborated with Yoka solely for the Merhy bout in Paris, acknowledges the magnitude of the task ahead in propelling Yoka to contender status. He sees it as a substantial challenge but not an insurmountable one.
"I embrace challenges," stated Charles. "Throughout my coaching career, I've often been the underdog. If I can't guide an Olympic champion to a world title, then something's amiss in his setup. My role is to assist this young man. I made it clear to Yoka from our initial meeting that if he doesn't secure a proper world title despite being an Olympic gold medalist, he'd join a list of super-heavyweight champions who couldn't transition to heavyweight titles professionally. There was Tyrell Biggs, followed by Audley Harrison. Do you want to be the third in history? He said, 'No.' So, our aim is to ensure this young man, at 31, with his freshness and discipline, achieves his goal. I hunger for success and will aid him in achieving his future version of an Olympic gold medalist."
"Consider what Joe Joyce has achieved with his silver medal," Charles continued. "He's made remarkable strides. I'm not writing off Joe; he can make a comeback and succeed."
During Yoka's journey to Olympic gold in Rio 2018, he defeated Filip Hrgovic and Joe Joyce. However, to realize his potential, Yoka requires more development in the top heavyweight ranks, much like Daniel Dubois.
"There's a need for a complete restructuring," explained Charles, likening it to his initial work with Dubois. "I found layers that needed addressing in the first camp. Yoka must buy into our methods and trust the process. We're aligning, and that's crucial. He grasps what's required, both physically and mentally."
Charles strongly felt that Yoka deserved a more favorable decision in his recent fight against Merhy, asserting that the outcome did not accurately reflect the bout.
"In my view, he did not lose that fight," expressed Charles. "The worst result should have been a draw. He's the home fighter, a national icon. They shouldn't have awarded it to the away fighter. There's an element of politics within his camp, which is unacceptable. But they won't beat us. Yoka is an outstanding individual and a dedicated student of the sport. Challenges excite me, and they've handed us a big one, but we will prevail as long as the fighter is committed to following our strategy."
Charles remained adamant that, given Yoka's dedication, their team wouldn't be bested.