The super lightweight contender makes his welterweight debut versus former two-division world champion Devon Alexander in a 147-pound showdown Saturday night on FS1.
Ivan Redkach remembers the first time he came to the United States from his native Ukraine, where he started boxing at age six and had a decorated amateur career of some 300 fights. Now he was ready to start his professional career.
“I went to Mexico to train – all Mexicans and one white guy from Ukraine with only an amateur style,” Redkach said by phone. “Every Mexican fighter – excuse my language – kicked my ass.
“After six months and a little more experience as a professional, I returned with a Mexican style and kicked everybody’s ass.”
Redkach quickly gained a reputation with Mexican fans and fighters that lives on to this day. His ring nickname is “El Terrible.” He’s also known as “The Mexican Ukrainian” and has worn the colors of the Mexican flag on his trunks more than once.
“I had a reputation with Mexican fans and fighters,” said Redkach.
Redkach won his first 18 pro fights, 14 by stoppage, and went into a title elimination bout in Alabama in June 2015 against Dejan Zlaticanin; a battle of unbeatens. Redkach claims he was hit with a low blow by Zlaticanin in the third round and asked the referee for some time to recover but was told it was a legal body shot. That, he says, made the difference. Zlaticanin stopped Redkach a round later and went on to become a world champion at lightweight.
With his lifelong dream of becoming a world titlist dashed, Redkach was forced to go back to the drawing board. He has gone 4-3-1 since – including wins in his last two fights, albeit against lesser opponents Brian Jones and Tyrone Harris -- trying to work his way back into title contention.
One of those losses came in December 2017 when he fought John Molina Jr. in a brutal affair worthy of Fight of the Year consideration. Both men hit the canvas. Redkach believes the referee didn’t give him the same chance to continue as he did with Molina.
“I lost on a lucky punch. I had a quick start, and was feeling good. It was a hard fight for both of us,” Redkach said in his halting accent. “I was mad. I almost knock him out and lose. But it’s just boxing experience. Sometimes win, sometimes lose. Losing is better for experience than winning.”
Would he like a rematch with Molina? “Of course. My fans love this fight.”
Despite the setbacks, Redkach, now 33, has maintained a hard-earned reputation as an exciting, all-action Mexican-style fighter who is fun to watch, win or lose.
On Saturday, at Soboba Casino in San Jacinto, Calif., Redkach (22-4-1, 17 KOs) will take on a former two-division world champion trying to work his way back to the top in Devon Alexander (27-5-1, 14 KOs) in a 10-round welterweight bout on PBC on FS1 (8 p.m. ET/5 p.m. PT).
This could be a nickname match for history buffs, too: Ivan the Terrible versus Alexander the Great.
What might be of greatest interest to boxing fans, however, is the expected presence of future Hall of Fame fighters turned cornermen: Alexander’s new trainer Roy Jones Jr. pitting strategy against the Redkach team’s newest addition, “Sugar” Shane Mosley.
Redkach had been trained by Jose Santa Cruz, the father and trainer of world champion Leo Santa Cruz. Jose’s battle with cancer led Antonio, Leo’s older brother, to be the lead trainer.
“ I’m staying focused on my preparation. I’m ready. ”
For this camp, Redkach brought in Mosley and couldn’t be happier with the results.
“Shane Mosley is a boxing encyclopedia,” said Redkach. “Shane has helped me mentally, with boxing skills, and boxing tricks. This has been a good camp.”
Redkach also worked with Alexander’s two most recent opponents, Andre Berto and Victor Ortiz. Berto defeated Alexander last August by split decision, while Ortiz and Alexander fought to a majority draw in February 2018.
“Victor helped me with sparring, and Andre helped me for technical skills,” said Redkach.
What might look different, at least from Redkach’s perspective, is his plan of attack. Perhaps boxing more and slugging less.
“This fight I will use a different style,” the southpaw says. “Different Ivan. I talked many, many times with Shane, and he taught me some boxing tricks. I used this camp, with Shane and Antonio telling me, ‘What are you doing, Ivan?’ I will use those skills on June 1st and I’m really excited for this fight.
“Also, this is a new division for me: 147 (pounds). I never fought at 147 before. I’m feeling fresh; I’m at 160 right now but losing this weight will be easy for me.”
This is a must-win fight for both men, and Redkach understands his career could be at stake, recalling the odd hour in which he was informed that the bout was available to him.
“(My team) called me at 5 o’clock in the morning to tell me about the fight with Alexander,” he laughed. “I thought I was dreaming at first. I woke up again and said, ‘Yeah, fight Alexander? Of course.’
“This is a dream fight for me. A great fight. I have respect for Devon Alexander. He was a great champion and fans love this fight.”
Alexander, 32, also a southpaw, was inactive for 25 months between 2015 and 2017 as he battled an addiction to painkillers. Since returning, he is 1-1-1. Obviously, he needs a win against a good opponent, and Redkach fills that bill.
Redkach has lived in the Los Angeles area since coming to the U.S. in 2009, and plans to remain after his boxing career ends. His son, Lucas, 4, lives with him in California, and his daughter, Margarita, 9, whose godfather is Redkach’s cousin and former boxing champion Viktor Postol, lives in Ukraine.
Redkach loves L.A., not only for its reputation as a boxing hotbed, but also for its year-round warm climate.
“I like it here. More opportunity, more jobs, and I love the weather,” Redkach said.
As for Ukraine, well, let him explain: “I go back to Ukraine once or twice a year. I stay two or three weeks and come back. My parents live in Shostka, and my daughter lives in Kiev.”
Something about eating too much and gaining too much weight during his visits, he explains.
For now, though, Ukraine is the farthest thing from his mind.
“Right now, it’s my time,” Redkach declared. “Devon is a good opponent. I’m staying focused on my preparation. I’m ready. This is a big fight for me. . . I’m very excited for Saturday.”
For a closer look at Ivan Redkach, check out his fighter page.