With a shot at a lightweight world title on the line, undefeated world-ranked contenders Ivan “El Terrible” Redkach and Dejan “El Dinamita” Zlaticanin will square off in a 12-round eliminator Saturday, June 13, in the main event of SHOWTIME BOXING on SHO EXTREME® (7 p.m. ET/PT, delayed on the West Coast) at Bartow Arena in Birmingham, Ala.
In the co-feature, unbeaten top 10-ranked super welterweight Julian “J Rock” Williams (19-0-1, 11 KOS, 1 ND), of Philadelphia, will be opposed by Armenia’s Armen Ovsepyan (14-4, 11 KOs), of Glendale, Calif., in a ten-round bout. Time permitting, hard-hitting light heavyweights Ahmed Elbiali (10-0, 9 KOs, 1-1 WSB), of Miami, Fla, and Donta Woods (8-4, 7 KOs), of Atlanta, will collide in a swing match.
Later that evening, in the SHOWTIME CHAMPIONSHIP BOXING® main event, undefeated WBC Heavyweight World Champion Deontay “The Bronze Bomber” Wilder (33-0, 32 KOs), of Tuscaloosa, Ala., will make the first defense of his title when he faces Eric “Drummer Boy” Molina (23-2, 17 KOs), of Raymondville, Texas, live on SHOWTIME® (9 p.m. ET/6 p.m. PT).
The winner between Redkach (18-0, 1 ND, 14 KOs), of Los Angeles, and Zlaticanin (16-0, 9 KOs), of Montenegro, becomes the mandatory challenger to Jorge Linares, the WBC 135-pound world champion who registered a 10th-round TKO over then-No. 1 contender Kevin Mitchell on May 30. Zlaticanin and Redkach are the second- and third-rated contenders by the WBC at 135 pounds.
Redkach and Zlaticanin are talented southpaws who were both accomplished amateurs in Eastern Europe. Redkach, a 2008 Olympic Games alternate for his native Ukraine, is known for his aggressive and relentless style. The 29-year-old is coming off a sixth-round knockout over Yakubu Amidu last Jan. 9 on ShoBox: The New Generation and has been angling for a title shot in 2015.
“This is the most important fight of my life,’’ said Redkach, who made ESPN.com’s “Top 20 Prospects to Watch” lists in 2012 and 2013. “I’ve never trained longer or harder for a fight. My trainer, Robert Garcia, has me totally prepared and in great shape.
“It’s going to be a good action fight. I’ve watched tapes of [Zlaticanin’s] last two fights so I feel I’m familiar with him. He’s very strong and he throws a lot of punches. I thank him [Zlaticanin] for coming to the United States. I’m honored. But this is a good matchup for me. I want to thank my team for giving me this opportunity. This is another step closer to my dream, the world title. I’m confident in myself. I’m going to put on a great show.’’
Dejan (pronounced “DAY-han) Zlaticanin (silent “z” – pronounced “la-ti-CAH-nin) is making his U.S. and 2015 debut. Zlaticanin’s most significant victory of his career came two outings ago when, as a prohibitive underdog, he earned a well-deserved 12-round split decision over hometown favorite Ricky Burns, a former two-division world champion.
The 31-year-old Zlaticanin, who moved training camps to the U.S. for his stateside debut, is an offensive-minded fighter who constantly pressures his opponents, outworks them and wears them down. Zlaticanin, of the Southeastern European country of Montenegro, represents the toughest opponent of Redkach’s career, though he’ll be giving away four inches in height to his opponent.
“I think I will knock Ivan Redkach out,’’ Zlaticanin said. “I don’t like his behavior. Now that I’m training in America, I think I will be stronger and better than I was before.’’
The fast-rising Williams, 25, is making his sixth appearance on SHO EXTREME, more than any other boxer. Ranked in the top ten by multiple sanctioning bodies, the undefeated 154-pounder has won six consecutive fights, four by knockout since a bout with still-unbeaten Hugo Centeno Jr., ended in a fourth-round No Decision in September 2013. Williams was up, 3-0 in rounds scored, when the fight was halted due to an unintentional clash of heads. In his last start he scored one knockdown en route to a shutout 10-round decision over veteran Joey Hernandez on April 4.
“I’ve seen some tape on my opponent,’’ Williams said. “He seems to be a really good, solid fighter. I’m expecting a tough fight, and I’m prepared. I’m ready.’’
The 29-year-old Ovsepyan trains out of the Wild Card Boxing Club in Los Angeles and has campaigned for most of his career in California or Russia. The aggressive-minded Ovsepyan has had difficulty getting fights in the past and this will be his first ring assignment in 13 months.
“I’ve been training for a whole year now,’’ he said. “They kept telling me that I could get a fight at any minute. I was supposed to have a fight in December, but it was canceled.
“I’ve seen Williams fight a couple of times, but it doesn’t matter to me. I don’t even want to know anything about my opponent. I just want to get back in the ring and get a win. I’m hungry and he better not be taking me lightly.”
In the SHOWTIME CHAMPIONSHIP BOXING co-feature, undefeated Jose “The Sniper” Pedraza (19-0, 12 KOs), of Cidra, Puerto Rico, will take on Andrey Klimov (19-1, 9 KOs), of Klimovski, Russia, in a 12-rounder for the vacant IBF Junior Lightweight World Championship.
Brian Custer will host the SHOWTIME EXTREME telecast with Barry Tompkins calling the blow-by-blow at ringside alongside expert analyst Steve Farhood.
Tickets for the event, which is promoted by DiBella Entertainment in association with Bruno Event Team are on sale now. Tickets start at only $25 with the best seats in the house going for $200. VIP packages are also available. To purchase tickets fans should visit alabamatitlefight.com. Tickets are selling fast and a sellout is anticipated.