The Donegal middleweight overcame Mexican veteran Freddy Hernandez in a bloody war at the Fantasy Springs Casino in Indio, Los Angeles, in the headline bout of a Golden Boy on ESPN card, defending his WBC-NABF title for the first time in the process.
Back at the same venue where he won the belt last year in bittersweet circumstances versus Glen Tapia, Quigley had another very tough night but again dug deep to grind out a fifteenth career win
Had things gone a little differently, the Irishman would have been fighting a Top 10 opponent on Saturday night down the road in Las Vegas as the Ballybofey man had all but agreed a clash with Japanese star Ryota Murata at the Mandalay Bay.
This bout, however, was scuppered when the WBA insisted that Olympic gold medallist Murata, their ‘regular’ beltholder, face ‘mandatory’ Rob Bryant.
27-year-old Quigley, who had seen a proposed August fight shelved in anticipation of the Murata match-up, instead returned to the ring tonight – just over six months on from his comeback in Boston back in March.
That night, versus Daniel Rosario, saw Quigley shake off the rust and test the tools after over a year out with a major hand injury suffered versus Tapia – as well as adjust to new trainer Dominic Ingle who was in the corner for the first time
Tonight Quigley looked sharp initially and began well before being pulled into a brawl that favoured his Hispanic opponent. While far from his greatest performance, and having plenty to work on, the Finn Valley fighter showed good grit to wrestle back control in the later rounds and secure a scorecards win.
Beforehand, Hernandez was perhaps best known for his ill-fated 2010 WBC welterweight title challenge where he was stopped in the first by then-champ Andre Berto.
Following this, the Mexico City man defeated Luis Collazo and also had a good win over Alfredo Angulo in 2016. These victories bookmarked torrid three-year spell where he lost six fights in a row to Erislandy Lara, Demetrius Andrade, Delvin Rodriguez, Francisco Sana, Julian Williams, and Brad Solomon.
Hernandez had fought infrequently in recent years, with his last appearance coming in December 2017 when he was oupointed by Nigerian contender Wale Omotoso.
Returning to the ring for just his second fight at middleweight, ‘The Rail’ looked a man far younger than 39 as he gave Quigley an almighty scare.
‘El Animal’ peppered Hernandez with jabs throughout the opening round, mixing in heavy straight rights which jolted the head back of the Mexican who could respond only by wrestling.
The new Wincobank recruit began to target the body with right hands in the second while continuing his good work with the jab and marking Hernandez under the eye with a left hook.
A somewhat scrappier third as the Mexican began to close the distance, Quigley snuck home some nice right hands
The European gold and World silver medallist shipped some well-timed left hooks at the start of the fourth before being cut to the outside of the left eye. This seemed to invigorate Hernandez who enjoyed his greatest amount of success in the fight so far, dragging Quigley into a minor dogfight.
A bad clash of heads cut Hernandez over the right eye in the opening seconds of the fifth. Bleeding badly, the Latino poured forward as Quigley’s chest turned crimson. The Ulsterman was fighting off the ropes with spurts of success but was taking too many shots for his and his corner’s liking.
Tagged with a big right as the fight entered its second half and bleeding from the mouth, Quigley attempted to get back to his boxing but Hernandez was able to force him into exchanging punches as the tide threatened to turn.
Into the seventh, far later than most had expected the fight to go, the war continued with Quigley looking quite fatigued and being outworked by the wily veteran.
The former amateur standout put together some nice shots at the start of the eighth but a heavy one-two from Hernandez signalled a restart of the gruelling battle. Quigley, though, looked to have gotten something of a second wind and was able to outslug the slugger.
To his credit, Hernandez continued to press in the penultimate round as Quigley’s right ear seeped blood while he attempted to get on the jab.
Finally, in the final round, the Golden Boy prospect managed to successfully transition to the back foot, circling Hernandez and popping off scoring shots to win the round and perhaps give himself some breathing space – although the cards would disagree with this assertion.
Going to the cards following a close and competitive scrap, Quigley was confirmed a unanimous decision winner with scorelines of 98-92, 98-92, 99-91. The tallies were undoubtedly far too wide and were greeted by a smattering of boos inside the Fantasy Springs.
Irish-Boxing.com scored the bout 96-94 in favour of the Irishman.
The learning win sees Quigley improve to 15(11)-0 while the game-as-anything Hernandez falls to 34(22)-10(4).
The title-chasing middleweight will hope to see his world rankings – #6 with the WBC and #9 with the WBA – improve following tonight’s encounter, setting him up for bigger, fights in the new year. However, improvements will need to be made should he step up in levels next time out.