There are a lot easier ways for Ivan Redkach and Argenis Mendez to find their way to a televised bout these days. Neither are interested in the easy road, however, as they see each other as the perfect springboard to return to title contention.
With that comes a meeting at the 135-pound crossroads between the two veteran boxers, who collide Tuesday night in the main event of a PBC on FS1 Toe-to-Toe Tuesdays card at Sportsmen's Lodge Event Center in Studio City, California (9 p.m. ET/6 p.m. PT).
“I’m very thankful for this opportunity to fight Argenis Mendez,” Redkach said. “He is a solid fighter, a professional and we’ll both be ready to put on a show for our fans.”
That statement might be the only matter regarding the fight on which the two will agree.
“As a former world champion, I know that these are the kinds of fights that I have to win to stay in contention for another championship,” said Mendez, a former 130-pound titleholder who represented his native Dominican Republic at the 2004 Athens Olympics.
Both fighters made the 137-pound contracted weight limit for their bout Monday, with Redkach hitting the scale at 136.6 pounds and Mendez coming in at 136.8.
To give an idea of how much of a risk both are taking, consider their track record against opposition with similar attributes.
Ivan Redkach (20-2-1, 16 KOs) is facing just his second past, present or future world champion in Mendez. Meanwhile, Argenis Mendez (23-5-1, 12 KOs) enters his second straight bout versus a southpaw opponent, with his previous encounter resulting in defeat.
Redkach’s only other bout versus a fighter with a championship pedigree produced the first loss of his career, when he was stopped in four rounds by future 135-pound champion Dejan Zlaticanin in their June 2015 title eliminator.
Zlaticanin went on to win a world title in his following bout, while Redkach has struggled to recapture the aura of invincibility that once made him a fierce prospect on the rise.
In two fights last year, Redkach fought to a 10-round split draw with Luis Cruz in April before being outpointed over 10 rounds by Tevin Farmer in July.
The setbacks taught the 31-year old Ukrainian southpaw, who is now based out of Los Angeles, that his power alone isn't enough to get him back toward title contention. With that came a change in trainers.
After having previously worked with Mario Morales and Robert Garcia, Redkach will be entering his second fight under the guidance of Jose Santa Cruz, the father of three-division world champion Leo Santa Cruz.
Their first collaboration produced positive results in January, when Redkach scored an eighth-round TKO of Demond Brock in Las Vegas on the Carl Frampton-Leo Santa Cruz undercard.
“Jose is a great teacher,” Redkach said. “We’ve worked on defense and I was more focused, thinking more and concentrated in my last fight.”
Mendez’s last fight was a loss to southpaw contender Luke Campbell in July, which doesn’t exactly make his upcoming assignment the ideal confidence booster.
Still, the former 130-pound champion, who reigned for more than a year following his fourth-round KO of Juan Carlos Salgado in their March 2013 world title rematch, doesn’t view his last bout as a loss but more so a learning lesson.
A mere three months after Mendez was manhandled by future world champion Robert Easter Jr. in April 2016, he boldly marched into Leeds, England, for a clash with Campbell, a 2012 Olympic gold medalist. Mendez managed to floor the British southpaw in Round 2, only to come up short on the scorecards in a unanimous decision.
It was Mendez’s second straight setback after two victories in his post-title reign run, including a 10-round unanimous decision over former 135-pound champion Miguel Vazquez in his last win in October 2015.
Still, he enters Tuesday night’s fight brimming with confidence that his second consecutive showdown with a rugged left-hander will produce far more favorable results.
“Ivan Redkach is a tough fighter, but I will be prepared for victory,” Mendez said. “I have a lot left to offer the sport, and a few tricks up my sleeve that will surprise [Redkach] and the rest of the boxing world.”
For a complete look at Redkach vs Mendez, visit our fight page.