Boxing

Jason Quigley gives 'Canelo' the edge ahead of super-fight with Gennady Golovkin

Saul 'Canelo' Alvarez, pictured landing a blow on Liverpool's Liam Smith last year, takes on Gennady Golovkin at the T-Mobile Arena tomorrow morning
Neil Loughran

IBF/IBO/WBA/WBC World middleweight boxing championships: Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez (49-1-1) v Gennady Golovkin (37-0-0) (tomorrow, 4am, live on Box Nation pay-per-view)

AS he walks through the MGM Grand on the Las Vegas strip, it is with a sense of frustration that Jason Quigley soaks up the hustle and bustle of fight week.

The much-anticipated middleweight unification fight between two of the top pound-for-pound fighters in world boxing, Mexican sensation Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez and hard-hitting Kazakh Gennady Golovkin, has finally arrived.

Ring walks are expected around 4am Irish time tomorrow morning, bringing an end to months of bar-room debates about who will emerge as the real king of the 160lb division.

It is a debate Quigley longs to be part of in years to come.

That he is only watching from the sidelines, rather that preparing to lace up leather himself, doesn’t sit easily. He has enjoyed the buzz, the hype, but would rather be in the thick of things rather than the fringes.

A Golden Boy stable-mate of ‘Canelo’, the Ballybofey banger would almost certainly have been on the undercard at the T-Mobile Arena, only for his continued rehabilitation from a major hand injury earlier this year to derail those hopes.

Quigley is still wearing a cast after breaking his right hand in the second round of his points win over Glen Tapia back in March, and hopes to make his return to the ring before the end of the year.

But missing out on bring part of such a major event has been tough to take.

“This week has just been mental, crazy and, to be honest, it’s kind of frustrating for me being here in the middle of everything because I can’t get the gloves on myself,” said ‘El Animal’, who is 13-0 since turning pro in 2014.

“I want to be in the middle of a big fight week, I want to be part of it rather than just an onlooker, but I just have to be patient.

“I’ve been training flat out but I haven’t been able to spar or even punch with the hand. I’m getting a CT scan on Monday, seeing the hand specialist on Tuesday and hopefully if all goes well I’ll be able to rock and roll by the end of the year.”

Gennady Golovkin was criticised for aspects of his performance against Kell Brook, even though he stopped the Sheffield man eventually

A date with either ‘Canelo’ or Golovkin down the line remains Quigley’s long-term goal but, with fight night fast approaching, the Donegal man admits he can’t wait to see two of the sport’s modern greats go toe-to-toe.

The 26-year-old was scheduled to spar Alvarez two years ago but, when the short, powerful James Kirkland was announced as the Mexican’s next opponent, plans to bring the taller Quigley into camp were shelved.

He has sparred with the likes of David Lemieux, a Golovkin victim in 2015, and feels talk that the Kazakh has gone downhill since defeating the heavy-handed French-Canadian is overplayed.

“People are saying about Golovkin not looking too good against Danny Jacobs, but that fight didn’t excite him. The same with Kell Brook - he was a lighter fighter, he knew he was going to walk through him,” said Quigley.

“He didn’t get up for those fights because, in the back of his head, he knew this was the fight he wanted.”

And since it was confirmed, Quigley has swung back and forth on who will have their hand raised.

He added: “At the start I was edging towards Golovkin, but I’m probably favouring ‘Canelo’ now by decision.

“He’s the younger, hungrier, fresher fighter. Danny Jacobs caught Golovkin, Kell Brook caught him, he’s not hard to hit, so what happens if Canelo can catch him, with the power he has?

“For Canelo to win, he has to put his combinations together and get Golovkin’s respect early, hit him hard in the opening couple of rounds. If he doesn’t get that respect, Golovkin will walk through him.

“It has all the ingredients for a real barn-burner. These two guys love to fight, they love to hit and they love to hurt.”

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