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Boxing: after his victory against Yoka, what future for Martin Bakole?

Martin Bakole

After inflicting the first defeat of his professional career on French boxer Tony Yoka, Congolese Martin Bakole celebrated his victory last Wednesday in Kinshasa. The Kanangais can now consider taking his career to the next level.

Tony Yoka did everything to dodge Martin Bakole after their fight was postponed due to the gauges returning last December. Without success. When the French tried to sign contracts for other more expensive fights - or less risky, some specialists in the discipline will dare -, the International Boxing Federation (IBF) asserted the rights of the Congolese, assuring that the contract was still valid.

Defeat for Yoka or victory for Martin Bakole?

Bakole, like Yoka, therefore had to wait until May 14 to compete. The boxer from the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), he did not wait for the clamor to rise around his Parisian fight. On December 12, he faced Russian Serguei Kuzmin in London for the World Boxing Council (WBC) heavyweight championship. A fight that gave rise to a first surprise, and a first belt for Bakole.

Ten days ago the same Bakole dominated Tony Yoka in the Paris-Bercy ring, inflicting the first defeat of his professional career. A phenomenal publicity stunt for the Congolese, even if the specialists believe that Yoka has foiled.

Read: The fight in the jungle: Mohamed Ali, the champion of Kinshasa

But this victory for Martin Bakole is anything but a coincidence: after his victory against Yoka, we learned that the Congolese boxer was the sparring partner of the three best boxers in the world in his division: the British Tyson Fury and Anthony Joshua, and the 'Ukrainian Oleksandr Usyk.

For years, since 2014, Martin Bakole has tried to make his way among the best. Today that he has made a name for himself, the Congolese returned to Kinshasa, where he was welcomed with great fanfare. But his fans criticize him for not putting the odds on his side.

Indeed, the fans believe that it is abnormal that Martin Bakole, with 19 professional fights, including 18 victories and 13 by K.-O., is still not sponsored by a sports brand. On his social networks, he dresses in Puma, Ellesse, Nike, Adidas… Bakole does free advertising, where his counterparts scoop up millions in sponsorship contracts.

After glory, professionalization

Is Bakole badly surrounded? Obviously, no. Martin Bakole is managed by a competent promoter, and is supported by his compatriot Ilunga Makabu, former light-heavyweight world champion. “Junior Makabu is not just a big brother. It's like an angel sent to me, like in the movies. He is everything to me”, says Bakole who affirms that Makabu “left everything and he is there to support me. He was the one who brought me into this world”.

Second reproach made to the rising star: he is scattered between the different boxing leagues. IBF, WBO, WBA… Bakole could opt for the WBC, the most prestigious championship, of which he faced most of the champions behind closed doors, during training.

Despite a lack of professionalism, Martin Bakole is also a success story. From a traveling salesman of telephone credit cards in the streets of Kinshasa, he spent years as a taxi-bus conveyor. Then, he worked for a year as a "wewa", a term that designates taxi-motorcycle drivers. It was then Junior Makabu who introduced him to boxing.

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