PARIS (AP) — Unbeaten French heavyweight boxer Tony Yoka secured an 11th straight win when he stopped Croatian Petar Milas at the end of the seventh round on Friday.
Moments after his victory, Yoka held up a photo of late French actor Jean-Paul Belmondo, who died on Monday and who was a huge boxing fan.
The fight took place on the grounds of the French Open tennis championship at Roland Garros in western Paris, with 8,500 fans present on Court Philippe-Chatrier to witness Yoka knocking down Milas with a left hook and then following up with a right hook in the final seconds of Round 7.
Yoka won Olympic gold in Rio de Janeiro five years ago but was troubled early on by the fleet-footed and mobile Milas, who had won his previous 15 fights and stung Yoka with some smart shots.
Three other fights also took place at Roland Garros, which had last hosted a fight in 1973 and will host tennis and boxing events at the 2024 Paris Games.
A moment’s applause was held Friday in memory of Belmondo who died at the age of 88.
Belmondo was a huge tennis and boxing fan who was a regular spectator at the French Open and at boxing events. The rugged Belmondo, whose crooked boxer’s nose and rakish grin made him one of the country’s most recognizable leading men, even played the part of a boxer in his acting career.
This was the 10th fight to be held on the grounds of the French Open.
In 1946, Frenchman Marcel Cerdan beat American Holman Williams on points. Cerdan, a European middleweight champion, won 110 of his 114 fights and is widely considered his nation’s finest boxer. One of his defeats came against Jake LaMotta in what proved to be Cerdan’s final fight.
Frenchman Jean-Claude Bouttier beat Carlo Duran in 1971 but then lost on points to Carlos Monzon, who retained his WBA and WBC middleweight titles in 1973 — when Belmondo was in the crowd.
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