Saturday Night Fever: Garcia vs. Redkach
By Robert Ecksel on January 21, 2020
“I love walking in the tunnels and seeing my pictures next to Jay-Z, DMX and Rihanna.”
On Saturday, January 25, in a fight televised live on Showtime from the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York, Danny “Swift” Garcia (35-2, 21 KOs), the two-division champion from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, meets Ivan Redkach (23-4-1, 18 KOs), the hardnosed southpaw from Los Angeles by way of Shostka, Ukraine, in a WBC welterweight eliminator.
On paper, the fight looks like it’s Garcia’s to lose. Redkach has dropped three of his last seven, to tough guys like Tevin Farmer and John Molina Jr., but has swept his last three bouts, including a knockout of former super lightweight and welterweight champion Devon Alexander in his most recent outing.
Garcia is 2-2 coming into the bout, having lost a decision in 2017 to Keith Thurman, which was split and could have gone either way, followed by Shawn Porter the next year. By any estimation, Danny Garcia is an elite fighter. But it has been a long time since Garcia defeated a fellow elite fighter in his prime. If he wins Saturday night, as expected, there will be little doubt that Ivan Redkach met that criterion.
At the final presser before the fight, Garcia said, “This is my eighth fight at Barclays Center and I’m excited to be back. I’ve fought in a quarter of the events here at Barclays Center, so you could say this is my house. I’ve had some historic fights in here. I love walking in the tunnels and seeing my pictures next to Jay-Z, DMX and Rihanna.”
Who wouldn’t love it? But focusing on Redkach, while less appealing than focusing on Rihanna, may be the wiser move.
“Come January 25, this is going to be another great night of boxing,” added Garcia. “I know Ivan is coming to fight. We’ve followed each other’s careers. I know he’s hungry and he wants to show the fans that he belongs on this level.”
That’s the knock on Redkach. Does he belong on this level? He almost sounds convinced.
“This opportunity fighting at Barclays Center is huge for me,” said Redkach. “I accept the opportunity with honor and I want to thank Danny Garcia for taking the fight. My friends and family provide me with the will to win. That support, along with my experience, is what I’ll need to win this fight. I want to give thanks to my team and everyone involved in making this fight and for believing in me, which give me the belief that gives me the strength to go in the ring and give it my all.”
Redkach’s win over Devon Alexander, the biggest name on his résumé, needs to be taken with a grain of salt. “Alexander the Great” has now won two of his last eight fights.
“The victory over Devon Alexander was important because he was a well-known opponent,” Redkach said. “Winning in the fashion that I did catapulted me to where I am right now. Danny made a mistake if he thinks this is a tune-up. I’m going to knock Danny Garcia out.”
The co-main event features the return of Jarrett Hurd (23-1, 16 KOs), the former unified super welterweight champion from Accokeek, Maryland, going up against Francisco Santana (25-7-1, 12 KOs), from Santa Barbara, California, in his first fight since losing the titles to Julian “J-Rock” Williams, who was dethroned last week by Jeison Rosario.
“This is my first time doing interviews since I fought Julian Williams,” said Hurd. “Last time I was up here I was an undefeated fighter and then I suffered my first loss. We had the rematch set up for this December, but with me going through a switch in trainers and still in the process of searching, I wasn’t in condition for it. It was the hardest thing possible to not take the rematch, much harder than taking it.
“I would never say I overlooked Julian Williams. There’s no excuses. Julian was the better man that night. When I look back there were probably some things that could have affected me, but Julian deserved to win the fight.”
Hurd is taking the high road and it suits him.
“I’m not looking past Francisco Santana,” he said. “I’m not thinking about anyone but Francisco Santana. This is the fighter who was put in front of me. He has the style that we were looking for with my having my first fight with my new trainer. I will stay at 154-pounds and fight for my titles again. I’m working hard to get back to the old me.”
Santana sounds up for the challenge.
“This is my Super Bowl,” he said. “When someone calls and presents an opportunity like this, you can’t turn it down. Jarrett Hurd is a good solid fighter who’s accomplished a lot. To fight against one of the biggest names in the division, that’s hard to say no to.
“I know that everyone is giving me zero chance come fight night. But that’s okay. I read the comments and what people say. It’s all good. My team believes in me and I believe in myself. I’ve often said it’s not how you start a race but how you finish it. I know it’s not an easy task, but I look forward to these big challenges. It will test me as a fighter and a human being. It’s a big challenge. He’s the monster of the division, but this is a great opportunity for me. Sometimes you have to face the monster head on.”