C'est LA vie for big-hitting Golden Boy Quigley
JASON QUIGLEY followed gold at the 2013 European Champions with a silver medal at the World Championships later that year.
The Ballybofey middleweight looked nailed on for Olympic glory before Oscar De La Hoya’s Golden Boy Promotions came calling.
De La Hoya made the Donegal fighter an offer he couldn’t refuse and a year into his professional career, Quigley has left seven opponents battered on the canvas and is enjoying life in Los Angeles.
Andy Watters caught up with a man determined to fight his way to the very top...
AW: You seem settled in LA now, but it must have been a big change from Donegal?
JQ: I love it over here. At the start it’s hard settling in, you’re here on your own for a while and it’s all new to you – the people, the surroundings, the culture, the weather…
Once you get that bit of time and get settled, it makes the world of difference.
AW: You’ve had seven fights in your first year and you fought on July 12 (second round KO of Tom Howard). When are you fighting again?
JQ: I’m out on Saturday night [August 8] against Michael Faulk.
I’m taking it one fight at a time, I’m not looking past any opponent and training for every fight as if it’s a world title fight. I have a big opportunity out here in America and I’m grateful to Golden Boy and my management Sheer Sports.
I’m out here to grab it with both hands and give it everything I’ve got.
AW: You had established a reputation as being one of the best amateurs around when you turned pro. Was it a difficult decision to turn pro?
JQ: The way amateur boxing was going, there were no headguards and it was a 10-9 scoring system.
It was professional boxing but it was only three rounds and you had a vest on – that was the only difference. At the world championships I had five fights in seven days and in my first fight I got a slight cut on the side of my head – if it had been above my eye my world championships would have been over.
Who’s to say that’s not going to happen in an Olympic qualifier? It was a big decision, I had to think about it – am I going to hang about for three years and try to qualify for the Olympics or go pro and give it everything I’ve got?
Turning pro was always the end goal for me and when I had such an amazing year in 2013 I got the offer from Golden Boy and I just couldn’t turn it down.
AW: You must have been a little star-struck when you met Oscar De La Hoya for the first time?
JQ: We were brought to the Golden Boy offices and we were sitting down and talking.
There was a few times I was sitting there talking to him and I was just looking at him thinking ‘Jesus Christ, look where I am?’
He actually knew me and wanted to be a part of me. It gives you inner confidence to have the likes of him behind you and giving you support. He’s good to talk to and he’ll give you wee bits of advice every now and again so just to have him by your side is absolutely amazing.
AW: Does he get involved in training you?
JQ: He wouldn’t be involved in training me – I train with Emmanuel Robles at the Rock Gym in Carson City – but he’d call to the gym every now and then to see how things are going and have a five or 10 minute to talk to you. He’d be a busy man if he was training all his boxers, he’s massively into promoting the company.
We have a good stable and a lot of prospects in the gym.
AW: You haven’t had too much trouble with any of your opponents so far, but is it true you almost had to tangle with a bear on a training run?
JQ: Yes. We were running Baldy Mountain (in New Mexico) and we started at six in the morning.
On the way up we saw a dead bear cub and on the way back down we pulled in to have a look at it. We were just ready to open the car door and the bushes started rustling – it was the big mother bear, so we got back in the car and drove on.
The boy running behind me had a go-pro camera on and we watched it later. On the run it showed the mother bear walking beside us but we never noticed her because it was that dark. We watched it back and we were like ‘Jesus, how did we not get eaten alive?’ I was a lucky man that day.
AW: A year into your pro career and you’re 7-0 now, all from knockouts. You have become a devastating puncher.
JQ: As an amateur I would have hit hard but I wouldn’t have been dropping people.
I would have had a decent bit of power but I wouldn’t have been known as a serious banger or anything.
The way I boxed as an amateur was very technical, I was in and out and picking a shot.
You’re on your toes the whole time but as a pro you have to settle down a wee bit and put your shots together and make them count to the body and the head and that’s what I’ve been working on since I came over here.
I’ve been working on putting combinations together, setting down on my feet and letting them go and I’m absolutely delighted with the progress.
I’m hitting these fellas now and if they’re not going down I’m really rocking them and I can see it in their eyes. Their eyes go glazy and you know to pounce on them.
I have a long way to go still.
I’m at the bottom of the ladder and I’m ,climbing to the top – that’s where I aim to get to. I’ll keep the head down and keep working hard.
AW: Where do you see yourself in two years’ time?
JQ: I would love to be challenging for a belt. I’d like to be right up there with the best of them and giving them everything that I’ve got but you can’t look past anybody.
Look at Marc McCullough – he got beat in the first round. That’s the thing about boxing – people say to me ‘would you not be better taking some of these guys a few rounds?’
But why take them a few rounds? One shot can change a fight – if you’re caught by one shot that could be it over, you could get knocked spark out, or a head clash could split you open. I get in there and if I see I’ve hurt an opponent or his eyes have gone glazy, or his legs wobble, I’m going to step in there and take him out. There’s no second chances in boxing, you have to leave everything in the ring.
AW: Carl Frampton recently made his US debut in Texas against Gonzalez. Did you get a chance to go to his fight in El Paso?
JQ: No I didn’t but Frampton came through it well – it’s a great learning curve for him.
People say you never stop learning and that’s exactly what happened Carl – he’s going to learn more from that fight than he did from winning the title.
He just has to look at it in a positive way.
As your career progresses you’re almost certain to have a night like that when you have to pick yourself up off the canvas.
Boxing is a dangerous sport.
You could get in there with a veteran who is past his peak but the last thing that goes is power in any man.
He lands one clean shot on you and that’s it – it changes the fight and it changes people’s views on you. You get dropped once and then you start hearing the rumours – people will be saying about Frampton that he’s chinny, he’s this and he’s that. That’s what some small-minded people will be saying never mind all the shots he has taken before and the men he has beaten. It’s mainly people who have never stepped inside the ring will be saying that and it takes a lot of balls to get in the ring no matter if you’re fighting as an amateur or at professional level.
AW: Conrad Cummings was on the undercard in Texas. Could he be a possible opponent down the line?
JQ: Definitely it’s a big possibility. Conrad is on his path over in England and I’m on my path here. I’m on a path to a world title and that’s my end goal. I want to lift the world title and I’m sure it’s the same for Conrad. If the two of us keep going down that line our paths are going to cross at some stage and that will be the time to deal with Conrad. Right now I’m 110 per cent focussed on getting another win and taking another step forward in my career.
There are other Irish middleweights out there too?
Definitely, Andy Lee is WBO champion, Eamonn O’Kane is looking for a title shot now. Boxing is on the up in Ireland and it’s great to see it.
AW: Who are the best middleweights out there?
JQ: You have the likes of Miguel Cotto, Triple G (Gennady Golovkin), David Lemieux they’re all top fighters.
AW: Will we see you fighting in Ireland at some stage?
JQ: I’m based out here but I’d love to take a massive fight back to Ireland at some stage and give the fans who have followed me for so long the chance to drive down the road to watch me it would be absolutely amazing.