Ivan Redkach fueled by disappointment entering crucial bout against Luis Cruz

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Ivan Redkach is still haunted by how his fight against Dejan Zlaticanin ended last June.

Ivan Redkach and Luis Cruz

Luis Cruz (left) and Ivan Redkach will square off in a 10-round battle Tuesday in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. (Leonard Wilson/Premier Boxing Champions)

With a title shot on the line, Redkach lost the 135-pound eliminator bout in Birmingham, Alabama, when Zlaticanin stopped him in the fourth round.

Redkach rose after being floored by a wicked left hook from Zlaticanin, but the Ukraine native was then pummeled defenselessly along the ropes until referee Jim Korb stopped the fight.

“I want to avenge that loss,” Redkach said. “But for now, I’m just staying focused on getting ready for my next fight.”

That next fight comes Tuesday night when Ivan Redkach (19-1, 15 KOs) takes on Luis Cruz (22-4, 16 KOs) in the main event of a Premier Boxing Champions card at Sands Bethlehem Event Center in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania (Fox Sports 1, 9 p.m. ET/6 p.m. PT).

It will be the second fight for Redkach, 30, since losing to Zlaticanin. The hard-hitting southpaw, who now resides in Los Angeles, rebounded from his lone professional defeat with a third-round knockout of Erick Daniel Martinez in October.

“Historically, the Puerto Rican fighters are very strong opponents, but I’m ready to take [Cruz] down,” said Redkach, who weighed in Friday at 135.2 pounds, while Cruz checked in at 134.9 pounds. “I definitely want to impress the audience and be entertaining, so I need a knockout. I carry a lot of power, and if I land on his chin early, it’s a knockout, guaranteed.”

Cruz won his first 19 fights, including 15 by knockout, before dropping a 10-round majority decision to two-time title challenger Juan Carlos Burgos in November 2011.

Cruz has struggled since then, splitting his last six bouts, including losses to title contenders Jose Felix Jr. and Edner Cherry. However, Cruz earned a six-round unanimous decision over Roberto Acevedo in his last fight in November.

Burgos and Felix were a combined 48-1-1 entering their fights with Cruz, and Cherry is a former title challenger with 279 professional rounds under his belt. With such formidable foes on his résumé, Cruz believes he will be able to solve Redkach’s come-forward style and emerge victorious Tuesday night.

“Ivan is a dangerous fighter who brings a lot of pressure and throws a lot of punches, but I’m a better counterpuncher,” Cruz said. “I have fought five or six opponents who are on the same level or better than Redkach. He’s a good fighter, but I’m better than he is."

For Cruz, coming up short against Redkach simply is not an option.

“I have to win," he said. "This fight is everything. If I lose, it’s the end. I won’t stay in this sport if I continue to lose.”

For a complete look at Redkach vs Cruz, visit our fight page.

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