In his last fight, Ivan Redkach added an important accomplishment to his professional résumé: He proved he’s capable of rebounding from a defeat. Of course, the rising 140-pound prospect hopes he’ll never have to prove it again.
Redkach (19-1, 15 KOs) will return to the ring for the first time in six months when he takes on Luis Cruz (22-4, 16 KOs) on April 19 in the headliner of a Premier Boxing Champions card from Sands Casino Resort in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania (Fox Sports 1, 9 p.m. ET/6 p.m. PT).
A 30-year-old southpaw, Ivan Redkach won his first 18 professional matches before running into fellow unbeaten fighter Dejan Zlaticanin on June 13 in Birmingham, Alabama. Zlaticanin was the better man that night, scoring a fourth-round technical knockout.
Four months later, though, Redkach regrouped in a big way, knocking out Erick Daniel Martinez with one second left in the third round in Glendale, Arizona, on October 14. It marked the 14th time Redkach had stopped an opponent inside of three rounds, with six of those guys failing to make it out of the first round against the Ukranian fighter.
Now he sets his sights on Cruz as he attempts to continue his ascent up the 140-pound rankings.
“I am really looking forward to headlining this event,” Redkach said. “I know that I have a strong opponent, but I am determined to impress the fans and show that I am ready to challenge the elite in my division. I’ve trained very hard, and I’m ready to fight.”
Like Redkach, Cruz got off to a blistering start to his career, winning his first 19 fights—including 15 by knockout—from March 2007 to March 2011. However, the 30-year-old from Puerto Rico has struggled since, winning just three of his last seven bouts. Two of those defeats were narrow points losses to Juan Carlos Burgos and Jose Felix Jr., two boxers who carried a combined 48-1-1 record into the ring against Cruz.
On the bright side, Cruz is coming off a shutout victory over Roberto Acevedo on November 14, and he fully intends to capitalize on the momentum from that victory.
“I plan on rejuvenating my career with this fight,” Cruz said. “Redkach is a tough fighter, but it is nothing that I haven’t seen before. I want to get this big win. It’s now or never for me.”
Aleem, 22, fought four times in less than eight months in 2015, capping the year with an eight-round, split-decision victory over Carlos Galvan on December 8 in Trenton, New Jersey. The Richmond, Virginia, resident's last two fights have gone the distance following a string of six consecutive knockouts.
Cepeda, 31, has been out of action since February 2015, when he dropped Laatekwei Hammond three times in the first 100 seconds of the fight, the final blow ending the contest. Take out a second-round disqualification victory over Quincy Miner, and each of Cepeda’s last 14 bouts have ended in knockout fashion. That includes the New Yorker's only defeat: a first-round TKO loss to Lamar Russ in October 2012.