Although lightweight Sergey Gulyakevich took a fight with elite prospect Ivan Redkach on just two weeks’ notice, he said the short window is no issue.
"I have had an absolutely great training camp for this fight. I was scheduled to fight in Hungary, so I was already in heavy training when I got the call,” said Gulyakevich, who faces Redkach in the main event of this week’s “Friday Night Fights” (ESPN2/ESPN Deportes, 9 ET) at the Ameristar Casino in St. Charles, Mo. “When the fight with Ivan was offered, I didn't hesitate for a minute to accept.
"I know that he's got tremendous power in both hands and he can also box well, which he demonstrated in his last fight against Tony Luis. I respect him and do not underestimate him at all."
The Los Angeles-based Redkach (16-0, 13 KOs), 28, a 2008 Olympic alternate for Ukraine and one of boxing’s most highly regarded prospects, was initially due to fight former junior lightweight world titlist Vitali Tajbert, but Tajbert suffered an ankle injury and withdrew from the fight.
Gulyakevich (41-2, 17 KOs), 33, the former European junior lightweight champion from Belarus, holds a 2008 decision win against Tajbert in a 2008 European defense. Gulyakevich also fought for an interim world title in 2009, although he dropped a majority decision to Humberto Gutierrez in Mexico.
He has won 15 fights in a row since the loss to Gutierrez while dealing with various promotional and managerial issues, which he said cost him a 2012 shot at a junior lightweight world title.
“Then I met my current manager, Derek Waddell, and things started looking up,” Gulyakevich said. “He got me seven keep-busy fights in Latvia, and then we signed with Joe DeGuardia's Star Boxing as we looked to make a name for ourselves here in the U.S. Over the last 12 months, I have had three significant fights fall through, first to Billy Dib, then against Will Tomlinson and finally against Terence Crawford. So when the call to fight Ivan came through, I was just so thrilled and excited for the opportunity. I want to thank Ivan and his promotional company DiBella Entertainment for stepping up to the plate and giving me this opportunity.
“Both Ivan and I know that the winner of this fight will be knocking on the door for a title shot, and we are going to lay it all on the line Friday night.”