Paris becomes the latest venue for first-class APB boxing action this weekend with a spectacular super heavyweight encounter between France’s current AIBA World Champion Tony Yoka and Croatia’s rising talent Marin Mindoljevic.
At 24 years-old, French star Yoka already has twelve years of boxing under his belt, earning a first podium finish with bronze at the 2009 EUBC European Confederation Youth Boxing Championships in Szczecin, Poland. Silver followed in 2010 at the AIBA Youth World Boxing Championships in Baku, before his first gold-medal success came at the inaugural Youth Olympic Games in Singapore.
Appearances at the 2011 and 2013 AIBA World Boxing Championships, either side of the London 2012 Olympics, followed, but it was at the 2015 World Championships that Yoka’s stars aligned. Overcoming key rivals in the form of Croatia’s Filip Hrgovic, Great Britain’s Joseph Joyce and Kazakhstan’s Ivan Dychko earned the Frenchman a hard-fought gold and the first world title for his country since 2003.
The tall, charismatic Parisian beat Russia’s former EUBC European Champion Magomed Omarov in their APB duel in October 2014, but Saturday night will see his first major return to the ring since Doha, and will provide a good barometer of how his Rio 2016 preparations are going.
Yoka’s opponent, 22 year-old Marin Mindoljevic, joined the elite group in 2013 after two Youth National titles in his homeland and was a quarter-finalist at the 2012 AIBA Youth World Boxing Championships in Yerevan, earning a spot at the 2015 European Games. His first taste of APB action came last September against Turkey’s Ali Eren Demirezen, before a narrow defeat last February against Uzbekistan’s Ulugbek Mubinov in Tashkent displayed his great potential at this level and proved he can push Yoka all the way in Paris.