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In a good action fight in which both fighters were on the deck, Ivan Redkach came on strong in the homestretch to garner a draw vs. Luis Cruz. The 10-round lightweight contest was the main attraction on the April 19 “Toe to Toe Tuesdays” card, a Premier Boxing Champions promotion at the Sands Events Center in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania.

Redkach, who trains in California but is managed by Lou DiBella, a New Yorker, is a product of the same state-sponsored Ukrainian sports factory that spawned the Klitschko brothers. A southpaw, he entered the contest with a 19-1 record. Cruz, a 30-year-old Puerto Rican, had fought stiffer competition while building a 22-4 ledger.

In round two, Cruz decked the ever-advancing Redkach with a straight right hand. Redkach was up in a flash, but it was a legitimate knockdown, the first that he has suffered in his pro career. In round eight, Redkach returned the favor, knocking Cruz off his pins with an overhand left. The Ukrainian scored another knockdown in round nine, a questionable call by the referee as Cruz was off balance and wasn’t hit cleanly.

If not for this moment, Cruz would have likely sprung the upset. The final scores were 94-93 Redkach, 94-93 Cruz, and 94-94. The verdict was well received.

In the first of two 8-round semi-mains, both contested in the middleweight division, Junior Castillo advanced to 10-0 with a unanimous decision over Kyrone Davis who dips to 10-1. Castillo, eight years older and with a stronger amateur background, went the distance for the first time in his brief pro career. The 21-year-old Davis, the stockier and more muscled fighter, hadn’t faced a southpaw before and had trouble solving Castillo’s style. A straight left from the former Dominican Republic Olympian put Davis on the deck in the fourth stanza. The final tallies were 78-73, 77-74, and 76-75.

In the second of the TV appetizers, Immanuwel Aleem, now 16-0, outclassed granite-chinned knockout artist Jonathan Cepeda, peppering him with an accumulation of hard punches. The gutsy Cepeda, who declined to 17-2, lasted the distance but was never able to land that one big shot that may have turned the tide. The younger Aleem benefited from superior hand speed and his punches were crisper. There were no knockdowns.

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