Ivan Redkach has been referred to as a “Mexican Ukrainian” because of his aggressive style in the ring, and the slugging southpaw has even worn trunks bearing the colors of the Mexican flag in more than one fight.
Redkach was undefeated and climbing the rankings in the 135-pound division until being stopped by eventual world champion Dejan Zlaticanin in a title eliminator in June 2015.
Since then, the 31-year-old native of Shostka, Ukraine, who now lives and trains in Los Angeles, has been working his way back toward the top, although he was tripped up by a draw and another loss in 2016.
Under the guidance of trainer Jose Santa Cruz, Redkach righted himself in January with an eighth-round TKO of Demond Brock on the Carl Frampton-Leo Santa Cruz undercard in Las Vegas.
Ivan Redkach (20-2-1, 16 KOs) is now preparing to face former world champion Argenis Mendez (23-5-1, 12 KOs) in a 10-round bout Tuesday night that headlines a PBC on FS1 Toe-to-Toe Tuesdays event at Sportsman Lodge in Studio City, California (9 p.m. ET/6 p.m. PT).
Before he steps in the ring, though, Redkach took a break to discuss the lessons he learned from losing, and how he plans to build off of those setbacks going forward.
How did you come by your nickname “El Terrible?”
My nickname was given to me by the fans who like the way I fight. I feel a responsibility to always turn in a good performance, put on a great show for them and to give the best of my abilities every fight.
Can you discuss your friendship with the Los Angeles Lakers’ Russian center Timofey Mozgov?
Timofey and I have been very good friends for about a year, and he has promised to come to this next fight. Most recently, we were together celebrating on Easter at the home of a mutual friend. We had a cookout, did some karaoke and there was an animal show for the children.
Can you tell me about your children?
Lucas is 2 years old and lives with me in Los Angeles, and my daughter, Margarita, is 7 and lives in the Ukraine. My goal is to not only provide for them, but to be a teacher and a good example to them by becoming a champion.
What did you learn from your loss to future world champion Dejan Zlaticanin by fourth-round TKO?
I remember that fight, 100 percent. It was the first loss of my career. I thought that I was supposed to be fighting in April, and I trained very hard for that, and then it was in June. Before the fight, I worked with Brandon Rios and also with Jessie Vargas and Raymundo Beltran to prepare them for fights.
I had a lot of work, a lot of sparring, but I went into the ring and there was no hunger. I think that the sparring took a lot out of me. My body was not in peak form for some reason. But, also, I was doing well in the third round until I got hit in the balls from a low blow.
I have video that shows it clearly. That affected me a lot, and I was really tired and exhausted because of that. The referee said it said it was a clear body shot and didn’t give me five minutes to recover. I was very upset about that.
“ Jose is a great teacher. We’ve worked on defense and I was more focused, thinking more and concentrated in my last fight. ” Ivan Redkach, on working with trainer Jose Santa Cruz
After being so close to a world title shot, you took a step back last year with a split draw against Luis Cruz and by losing a 10-round unanimous decision to Tevin Farmer. What can you tell me about those fights?
For the fight with Cruz, my trainer, Mario Morales, was telling me that I was losing and that I needed the knockout, so that wasn’t helpful.
Physically, I was ready, but psychologically, I had some family issues and I was not on the spot. That distracted me a lot. I was very angry about that.
Tevin Farmer was a good boxer. My body was ready 100 percent for Tevin Farmer, but in my brain, there was a little bit of confusion.
What was the difference for your last fight, when you scored an eighth-round TKO of Demond Brock?
For my last fight, I was trained by Jose Santa Cruz, Leo Santa Cruz’s father, and it will be the same for this next fight. That fight changed me a lot.
Jose is a great teacher. We’ve worked on defense and I was more focused, thinking more and concentrated in my last fight—not all over the place like against Tevin Farmer.
You’re getting ready to fight an experienced opponent in former world champion Argenis Mendez. Is there anything you can gain from watching his July loss to Luke Campbell, who is a southpaw like you are?
I’ve watched that fight with interest, because of their styles. Lucas was at home [in the U.K.], and it was easier for him with a lot of pressure on Mendez.
But I don’t think that me being a southpaw will mean that much. I do believe that this will be an interesting fight and very entertaining.
I know Mendez, being a former champion, will be very ambitious about returning to the top. I’ll have a plan and a strategy in my head, and I’ll execute within that game plan.
How do you rank the top fighters in the 135-pound division?
Jorge Linares, Mikey Garcia, Ivan Redkach, Terry Flanagan and Robert Easter. I think those are the top guys.
What fighter in history would you most like to have fought, and what would be the result?
I would have liked to fight either Edwin Valero or Miguel Cotto. I don’t know who would win, but those would be dream fights.
What is your favorite punch to throw and in what fight did you land it perfectly?
I would say the uppercut with either hand, but also the left hook. I landed the left hook very well in my last fight against Demond Brock, but I knocked him out with the left hook. The Mexicans showed that to me, and it has worked out for me very well for the knockout.
If Hollywood made a movie about your life, what actor would do the best job portraying you?
I would say Jason Statham because he is a very good actor in action movies. I would like for it to be motivational for the kids.
For me, though, I’ve already performed in a video made by a Russian rapper, L’One. In the video, I’m a professional boxer. It’s a video about a little guy becoming a great boxer. It’s beautiful.
Finish this sentence: If not for boxing, I would be …
… I never tried anything else. Since I was a 6-year-old, this has been my goal.
If you could change one thing in the world, what would it be?
I would address drug addiction in children. I would open a rehabilitation center geared toward children.
“12 Rounds With …” is published Wednesdays at PremierBoxingChampions.com. Next week: fast-rising 168-pound contender David Benavidez.