There are few problems harder to solve in boxing than a southpaw. When you add in the factors that Ivan “The Terrible” Redkach brings to the table, blistering power in both hands and a high boxing I.Q., the resulting combination is a dangerous prospect looking to break out to contender status tonight in Memphis, Tennessee on Showtime’s “Shobox: The New Generation.” The series is about pitting two prospects at the contender crossroads and seeing who comes out on top. Many a world champion has come out of this series and Redkach’s manager, Larry Army believes his lightweight prospect will join that rich tradition.
“There comes a time in every manager’s career when he finds out what he really has in a fighter,” Army said in a press release regarding the fight. “I know Ivan is a tremendous fighter with awesome power. On January 17th, the boxing world will know what I already do - Ivan Redkach will be a world champion.”
Is that manager hyperbole? I’ll let the fight answer that but in watching his career (featuring a record of 15-0 (13) with one no-decision), many things become clear. Redkach possesses attributes you cannot teach. Honed through an amateur career that saw him go 260-40, become a seven-time Ukrainian national champion and a two-time European amateur featherweight champion with a berth in the 2008 Olympic Games, Redkach has built himself a solid foundation for success. Power-punchers are born but the patience it takes to deliver that power comes from experience, built-in self-discipline and intelligence. Redkach’s sense of range seems a natural talent as well. As he told me in a phone interview last week, his counterpunching style is his nature. A natural left-hander who began fighting at age six when a cousin brought him to the gym, Redkach appears to be a power-puncher who is not manufactured through creative matchmaking.
Tonight’s opponent, Tony Luis of Canada, 17-1, (7), is his biggest step-up opponent to date. In Luis, Redkach faces a natural boxer who uses his speedy hands and feet to set up his power shots. Luis also has a long amateur background of over 100 fights.
“Luis has an excellent amateur background,” Redkach in a press release. “He has great speed and is a pure boxer. This fight will be a great test for me. Based on what I’ve seen of him on tape, I believe he’ll dance around the ring with me, being a predator. Make no mistake; I will catch him.”
Redkach is an admirer of the ring work of the late Edwin Valero, a deadly, southpaw power-puncher who could box, bang and counterpunch like a dream. Its no coincidence that Redkach, who initially trained under the Klitschko brothers’ original trainer, is now with Mario Morales, one-time trainer of Valero.
“I liked his style,” Redkach said. “His counterpunching, his boxing.”
Unlike Valero, Redkach does not have the fleetest of feet. He doesn’t glide so much as stalk and pick you apart bit by bit. But also unlike Valero, Redkach has assembled a team around him, since signing with Army and promoter Lou DiBella, that whom he hopes will take him to the next level.
“He’d never done strength and conditioning before,” Army explained to me over the phone last week. Now Redkach has assembled a team of specialists including SNAC System founder Victor Conte, who handles Redkach’s supplements, nutrition and vitamins. Conte, who works out of the Bay Area, creates personal supplementation plans for fighters based on extensive analysis of their blood. In addition, Conte designed Redkach’s weight-cutting protocol. Ivan did so easily on Thursday, weighing in at a ready 134.25 pounds to Luis’ 135.5.
The rest of the team includes Morales and cutman/co-trainer Russ Anber, who bowed out of this bout because he has also worked with Luis. A classy move from a classy guy. Danny Milano will handle that duty.
Another significant addition along with Conte is Danny Garcia, out of Daniel Ponce de Leon’s gym in L.A. Garcia is a quality coach of good character who currently works with Leo Santa Cruz and formerly Yonnhy Perez, among others. The result is a fighter who feels like he’s at the top of his game and whose body and energy levels reflect that.
“This has been the best camp of my life,” stated a confident and focused Redkach. “My team has transformed me into a machine that is built to fight. On January 17, Tony Luis will realize this very quickly and he will feel it in each and every one of my punches. 2014 is my year and I am not going to let Tony Luis stand in my way.”
Leaving home in the Ukraine to take his chance as a future star and champion in boxing is one of life’s ultimate gambles. But with the team he has assembled and the work he is putting in, Redkach appears to be a man who takes no chances without hedging all his bets first.
“This opportunity is what I have worked so hard for since I was eight years old,” Redkach said in the press release. “National exposure in the U.S. is why I uprooted my life and moved here. So many world champions started out fighting on ’ShoBox’ and now it’s my turn.”
Tonight, Ivan Redkach will make his 10-round and U.S. TV debuts. Welcome to the proving ground.