'El Animal' Jason Quigley itching for return to the ring against Jorge Melendez
JASON QUIGLEY wants to unleash the frustration of six months on the sideline on Jorge Melendez in Los Angeles on Saturday.
Donegal’s ‘El Animal’ takes on the Puerto Rican ‘Destroyer’ and Quigley (11-0) jokes: “If our nicknames are anything to go by, it should be a great fight” as he counted down the minutes to the fight.
The Ballybofey middleweight’s all-action style means he hasn’t been involved in a boring rumble yet. He had six outings in 2015, but just two so far this year and hasn’t been in action since he out-pointed James De la Rosa in May.
“I was due to fight on the Canelo v Liam Smith undercard but I sprained my wrist so I had to pull out of it and take a bit of time off to let it heal up,” he explained.
“It was an experience. I was lucky it was only a sprain, there was nothing broken, but I had to rest it and it was the first time I’d had any sort of a setback.
“I was able to go to the gym and work on different things but I wasn’t able to train properly, so God help him [Melendez] on Saturday night. I’ve been like a lion trapped inside a cage for the last few months and now I'm ready to show everyone what I'm all about.”
Puerto Rican Melendez has a 30-7-1 record and four of those defeats have come in his last six bouts. After spending a lot of his career fighting at super-welterweight it’s likely that he’ll struggle to cope with Quigley’s punching power. On the flip side, the 27-year-old can bang a bit too and has 28 stoppage wins on his card.
“He brings a good record to the table,” said Quigley.
“He’s fought some tough guys in his career and has 28 knockouts in his 30 wins, so he's a big puncher. These are the fights that I want. I want to prove to everybody and myself that this is where I belong. I'm 13 in the WBA rankings, but I'm not going to settle for that. I don't even want to be ranked number one, I want to be the title holder.”
LA-based Quigley trains at the Rock Gym under the watchful eye of Manny Robles who also has Jesse Magdaleno, Oscar Valdez and soon Michael Conlan in his stable.
His fight with Melendez is part of a bill topped by the farewell performance of ring legend Bernard Hopkins who bows out with a 55-7-2 record a few weeks short of his 52nd birthday.
“As soon as Golden Boy said I was going to fight on Bernard Hopkins' undercard, I was absolutely delighted,” said Quigley.
“I'm ready to get on this big stage in LA at the Forum in Inglewood, another great venue, under the legend himself, Bernard Hopkins. Bernard Hopkins had an unbelievable career to go on as long as he has and have the success that he’s had is unreal. It’s a great bill to be involved in and a great occasion for boxing so I can’t wait for it.”
Living far from home in LA has allowed Quigley to establish a single-minded train-eat-sleep-train-eat-sleep routine. He’s in bed every night for 10pm and up again the following morning ready for action pushing himself on towards his goal of being a world champion.
“That’s the life,” he says with a laugh.
“Over here I’m away from home and that’s tough alright - especially at the start - but you’re away from everything and you have to make sacrifices if you want to get anywhere in this sport.”
He plans to go right to the top and after making his debut in 2014 the Golden Boy fighter is now rated as one of the top prospects in boxing. Barring a shock at the weekend he’ll finish 2016 at 12-0 and will have established a platform to kick on to title shots next year.
“I want to fight whoever has the titles,” he said.
“I could name this one or that one, but it’s simple - whoever has the titles is the man I want. I want to fight in Ireland some day soon so I can give my fans the chance to come and see me but I don’t want to go and share a bill or be on the undercard, I want to headline the show and make it a big fight that people will want to go to and remember.”
He’ll have his friend Michael Conlan for company in LA from next week on. Conlan will also be based at the Rock under Robles and makes his move to California in early January.
“I first met Mick when I was about 16 and I went up to John Breen’s Gym for sparring,” Quigley, now 25, recalled.
“My dad took me up. He was my coach as an amateur and for my first three fights as a pro and I was up for sparring and Neil Sinclair was in so I sparred him. Mick was in there with Jamie [Conlan] and I met him.
“After that, we were on the Ireland team together and when got to be friends and went on a couple of holidays – we went over to Magaluf and that was good craic.”
Conlan - who signed with Bob Arum’s Top Rank - plans to make a spectacular debut at Madison Square Garden, New York on St Patrick’s weekend next year.
“I’m Golden Boy and Mick is Top Rank so I don’t think there’s any chance of me being on that show,” said Quigley.
“But we’re both Irish fighters and maybe it would make sense for them to get us both on the same bill and give the fans something to cheer about.”
ALFREDO MELI returned to action after a year out with a points win against Anthony Fox in Birmingham last Saturday night.
Belfast middleweight Meli hadn’t fought since late last year after issues with a pre-fight scan forced him to withdraw from his Commonwealth middleweight title eliminator against Sam Sheedy in May.
Picture by PA
KATIE TAYLOR was disappointed with her performance on Saturday night despite dominating Brazilian-born opponent Viviane Obenauf and earning a shut-out 60-53 verdict.
“I thought I was a bit flat,” said the former Olympic champion.
“I thought it was a mediocre performance, but a win’s a win. I got six good rounds out of it. I suppose I just have to take the positives from it, but I felt a bit tired in there tonight. It was a quick turnover from the last fight as well.
“I felt a lot better in the last fight, but obviously this girl was obviously a better quality girl. She had a good winning record and was a lot more game. ”
Obenauf, who came to the ring with a 9-1 record, was a step up on Taylor’s debut opponent but it was soon obvious that the 30-year-old from Bray was far superior.
A crunching left hook in the opening round left Obenauf in no doubt about the size of her task, and she slipped to the canvas in the second in what was ruled a knockdown by the referee.
Taylor was in full control in the third, landing shots with either hand, and while Obenauf continued to look to press forward gallantly, she was continually picked off by the impressive Taylor.
ANTHONY JOSHUA'S trainer Rob McCracken is "more than confident" his man will defeat Wladimir Klitschko next year to become undisputed heavyweight champion.
The 27-year-old former Olympic gold medallist teamed back up with former amateur mentor McCracken on a full-time basis ahead of Saturday's second successful defence of his IBF heavyweight title against Eric Molina.
McCracken looked on as Joshua impressively stopped Molina within three rounds at Manchester Arena, with promoter Eddie Hearn then swiftly announcing that a deal had been struck for the Briton and Klitschko to meet in a unification showdown at Wembley Stadium on April 29.
"Klitschko is a different type of test. Klitschko won't be fazed - he's hugely experienced," McCracken said.
"He knows his way around, he knows how to jab and grab and nullify big punchers. He's beaten big punchers before, but I think Anthony's more than a big puncher.
"Anthony can box, can move well, has great balance. Speed is the key as well - when you have his speed, they don't see the punches coming. And that will be the plan for Klitschko.”