THIS year is poised to be a big one for Danny Garcia. The former two-weight world champion is being talked up as a possible opponent for Errol Spence Jnr – who is on the road to recovery after a serious car accident – and the legendary Manny Pacquiao. This Saturday (January 25), the Philadelphian takes part in an eliminator for the WBC welterweight belt – one of two world titles at 147lbs that are currently owned by Spence. If Garcia wants to make the Spence or Pacquiao bouts a reality, he must first get past Los Angeles-based Ukrainian Ivan Redkach at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn.

Considering that Spence and Pacquiao are both southpaws, Redkach is a convenient rival for Garcia, as he too is a portsider. If this clash does prove to be a warm-up ahead of a meeting with Spence or Pacquiao, getting some rounds in with a left-hander will prove useful preparation for “Swift”.

Back in mid-2015, Redkach was being touted as someone who could potentially establish himself at world level. However, a fourth-frame stoppage loss to pocket rocket Dejan Zlaticanin hit him hard – he won only two of his next six outings. A split draw with Luis Cruz was disappointing, while points defeats to Tevin Farmer (unanimous) and Argenis Mendez (split) highlighted his struggles against accomplished technical boxers. When veteran gunslinger John Molina Jnr knocked him out in four rounds in December 2017, Redkach’s career was at its lowest ebb.

Since this torrid run, Redkach, 23-4-1 (18) 1NC, has managed to regain some of his old momentum. A pair of low-key victories led him to a make-or-break matchup with the faded but still well-recognised Devon Alexander in June. The opening five sessions were nip and tuck, but Redkach – with Shane Mosley and Leo Santa Cruz in his star-studded corner – exploded into action in the sixth by scoring three knockdowns and claiming a KO win.

Having previously straddled the lightweight and super-lightweight divisions, the Alexander triumph marked Redkach’s first proper foray into the welterweight category or thereabouts. Garcia, 35-2 (21), in contrast, has been a fully fledged welter since the middle of 2015. He captured vacant WBC honours at 147 by unanimously outpointing the decorated Robert Guerrero four years ago, but dropped the crown – and his unbeaten record – to Keith Thurman in a unification battle just over 13 months later.

Following this split verdict setback, Garcia was inactive for almost a year, before halting warmonger Brandon Rios in nine on his return. This earned him a crack at his old title in September 2018, but the tenacious Shawn Porter pipped him to a unanimous decision. The Philly fighter rebounded in April with an impressive seventh-round knockout of the usually durable Adrian Granados.

Prior to becoming a welterweight, Garcia unified the WBC and WBA straps in the weight class below, as well as scalping the likes of Erik Morales (twice), Amir Khan, Zab Judah, Lucas Matthysse and Lamont Peterson. The solid-chinned 31-year-old possesses sound fundamentals and picks his punches with intelligence and accuracy – especially his famed left hook. The aggressive Redkach, 33, boasts advantages in height and reach, yet his wild attacks can leave him open. Expect Garcia to exploit these openings with sharp counters, leading him to victory before the midway mark of this 12-rounder.

Over 10, Accokeek’s ex-WBA and IBF super-welterweight champ Jarrett Hurd, 23-1 (16), aims to get back to winning ways after losing his belts in May. The imposing Marylander can do just that by dispatching Santa Barbara, California’s inconsistent Francisco Santana, 25-7-1 (12), sometime in the second half.

TGB promote, while BoxNation (UK) and Showtime (US) televise.

The Verdict Redkach is unlikely to spoil Garcia’s grand plans for 2020.