This Friday (Jan. 17) eight fighters with a combined record of 96-1-5 with 57 knockouts will compete in a quintessential “ShoBox” telecast live on Showtime (10 p.m. ET/PT, delayed on the West Coast) from Cook Convention Center in Memphis, Tenn.
Undefeated, highly regarded, lightweight Ivan “The Terrible’’ Redkach (15-0,13 KO’s), of Los Angeles, by way of Ukraine, takes on Tony “Lightning” Luis (17-1, 7 KO’s), of Cornwall, Ontario, Canada, in the 10-round main event.
Redkach is regarded by many as a “can’t miss’’ prospect and a future world champion with significant power. But the virtually untested 27-year-old has never been in the ring with the likes of Luis, setting the stage for the first real test of the Ukrainian’s career.
In a battle of unbeaten light middleweights in the co-feature, John “The Apollo Kidd’’ Thompson (14-0, 5 KO’s), of Newark, N.J., faces “The Brooklyn Rocky” Frank “Notorious” Galarza (11-0-2, 7 KO’s), of Brooklyn, N.Y., in an eight-round bout. Two more eight-rounders, all featuring undefeated fighters, round out the telecast: Antoine “Action” Douglas (11-0, 7 KO’s), of Burke, Va., by way of Washington D.C. squares off against Marquis “MD Goodnite” Davis (8-0-2, 5 KO’s), of Tampa, Fla., in a middleweight match and Maurice “Mighty Mo” Hooker (12-0-1, 9 KO’s) of Dallas will be opposed by Abel Ramos (8-0, 4 KO’s), of Casa Grande, Ariz., by way of Gettysburg, Pa., in a junior welterweight scrap.
Among many who readily acknowledge Redkach’s aggressive, fan-friendly style and ability is columnist Steve Kim of MaxBoxing.
“Ivan, like many other fighters from the former Soviet Union, brings a hard-nosed, fan-friendly style that I think will resonate with the public,’’ Kim said. “He really attacks the body and is a fighter that isn’t hesitant to let his hands go. I don’t think he’ll be in a lot of boring fights as he moves up the boxing ladder.”
The 5-foot-9-and-one-half-inch Redkach won the vast majority of his approximately 300 amateur bouts and was a 2008 Olympic Games alternate for Ukraine before turning pro in November 2009. Redkach started to box at the age of six.
“I started right after kindergarten,’’ he said. “I moved to Brovari (a suburb of Kiev) when I was 12. I went to a special sports school. All of the most talented athletes from all over Ukraine go there. They have great boxing – Sergiy Dzinziruk was there, the Klitschko brothers were there. It’s like a boarding school – you live there, you train there.”
The WBC’s No. 13-ranked contender, Redkach has had his way as a pro, winning all but two of his fights inside the distance. He possesses decent skills and movement, but power is his game. Twelve of his 13 knockouts have come in three rounds or less, with six coming in the first.
A confident Redkach is looking forward to his ShoBox debut.
“So many world champions started out fighting on ShoBox, and now it’s my turn,’’ said Redkach, who trains in Southern California at the Wild Card Gym in Hollywood and Ponce de León’s gym in Montebello. “National exposure in the U.S. is why I uprooted my life and moved (to America).
“Tony Luis is fast, throws a lot of punches, but that’s all. It doesn’t matter. I’m going to fight my fight and do my job. My style is very, very tricky. I’m more of a pressure fighter, a puncher.”
Luis, 26, is an ambidextrous boxer with quick hands and feet who’s at his best when he pressures his opponents and wears them down with body punches. The 5-foot-7-and-one-half inch former WBC Continental Americas super lightweight champion has won two in a row since suffering his lone defeat on an upset ninth-round TKO to late substitute Jose Hernandez in a thrilling affair on Jan. 25, 2013. Hernandez once fought a draw with world-ranked Mickey Bey, but he took this fight on less than two weeks’ notice and was definitely the underdog.
"After my loss, I did have a lot of anger in the beginning,’’ said Luis, who outpointed Rafael Luna across six rounds in his last outing on Nov. 9. “ I was very bitter. But then I realized that had I fought the right fight and listened to my corner, I never would have lost. I truly believe that I turned that fight into an unnecessarily difficult one because I fought the wrong game plan.”
The chief sparring partner for world featherweight champion Guillermo Rigondeaux, Luis is ecstatic about the opportunity presented him.
"My comeback comes full circle on Jan. 17,’’ the five-year-pro said. “It’s going to be exactly a year since my first loss. Last year, I was the undefeated prospect and I was the favorite coming in. This year, it’s Ivan in that same position, and I’m the opponent coming in. Last year, José Hernandez didn’t care. This year, I’m José Hernandez.’’
And Luis’ game plan for Redkach? “I think I have to take him deep into this fight,’’ he said. “Ten rounds is a long night for anyone. I’ve got to fight smart in the early rounds and take him deep.’’
Thompson, a well-conditioned 6-foot-1, 24-year-old, continues to improve under the watchful eye of trainer, former world champ Buddy McGirt, and is currently ranked No. 20 in the WBC. Thompson had an excellent amateur career, winning the 2007 Golden Gloves tournament and was the bronze medalist at the 2007 National Golden Gloves. He had wins in the tournament over 2008/2012 Mexican Olympian Oscar Molina and Detroit prospectDomonique Dolton.