By Joe O’Neill
Late this Saturday night Ireland’s Andy Lee [34(24)-2(2)] will defend his WBO middleweight title for the first time at the Barclays Centre in Brooklyn, New York. He faces former champ Peter Quillin [31(22)-0] of the U.S.A. in what looks to be one of the toughest tests of the Limerick man’s career. As well as a massive test, it is also a massive opportunity as the fight will be shown live on U.S. terrestrial television on NBC through Al Haymon’s new ‘Premier Boxing Champions’ promotion. A win for underdog Lee in front of an audience in the millions would help him become one of boxing’s most recognisable stars. Here at irish-boxing.com we have everything you need to know ahead of the huge bout.
Peter Quillin – History
Born in Chicago but brought up in Grand Rapids, Michigan, Quillin now boxes out of Brooklyn, New York where he will be the hometown fighter this Saturday. The 31 year old is half Cuban and holds the ring moniker ‘Kid Chocolate’ in reference to the great 1930s boxer who was the first Cuban world champion.
After wins against a past-prime Winky Wright and former Lee foe Craig McEwan, Quillin would win a world title for himself in October 2012 – securing the WBO belt in against the man who defeated Lee in the 2004 Athens Olympics, Hassan N’Dam N’Jikam. In what was a bizarre fight Quillin knocked the Cameroonian down six times but was actually outfought by N’Jikam for the majority of the bout.
Quillin defended title three times, knocking out sluggers Fernando Guerrero and Gabe Rosado and outpointing then-European champion, Lukas Konecny before shocking the boxing world by vacating his belt instead of facing Matt Korobov for a career-high $1.4million. After this move Quillin was subject to a lot of criticism with many claiming that he was ducking the former Russian amateur star. In reality, however, the decision was made in light of the birth of his first son and the death of his beloved uncle. Now back focused on boxing, ‘Kid Chocolate’ will be looking to reclaim the crown that he feels is rightfully his.
Peter Quillin – Style
Very athletic and extremely powerful along with having decent boxing fundamentals, Quillin is a formidable foe and Lee’s chin, which is one of the most solid in Irish boxing, will certainly be tested during the fight. While the former champ is a dangerous fighter, he is not the unbeatable behemoth that some have made him out to be and has several deficiencies that Lee will be looking to take advantage of.
With just 8 amateur fights in comparison to the trophy-laden amateur career of Lee, Quillin is the definition of an athlete who was turned into a boxer. While well-schooled after time training with Freddie Roach, and usually compensated for by his athleticism and strength, Quillin’s lack of boxing background and nous can occasionally manifest itself in the form of wild exchanges. Lee is a solid counter-puncher and will need to take advantage of any opportunities.
When he comes up against the 6’2” Lee who has a 75” reach , Quillin, who stands at 5’11” with a 73” reach, will be the notably smaller man in the ring for the first time in his elite level career. The orthodox Quillin will also be faced with a southpaw for the first time since defeating a 40 year old Winky Wright back in 2012. Champion Lee represents an exceedingly awkward comeback fight for the American.
Finally, Quillin also has a tendency to coast in the later rounds, something which is very dangerous against a power puncher like Lee
This fight is much closer than odds suggest (Quillin – 1/3, Lee – 9/4). It has been nearly 12 months since Quillin outpointed Konecny and ring rust may be a factor. Therefore, Lee has commented on his need to take advantage and have a quick start saying that “I have to let him know early on that he’s in a fight” as “Quillin’s a guy who fights on confidence and, if I let him go in the fight, he might run away with it.”
Lee’s last two victories have come from awe-inspiring right hooks and this may lead to Quillin focusing too much on defending against that one particular punch – however this may work in the Castleconnell man’s favour as he has power in both hands and can end a fight with all manner of shots.
Lee looks to be the toughest fighter Quillin has ever faced in a career where, so far, he has not fought the greatest of opponents. 30 year old Lee has commented that “He’s always been the A-side of the fight and the fights have always been in his favour” and “He’s fought a lot of smaller guys and had a lot of size advantage” – Konecny and Rosado were light middleweights. Quillin will not have this advantage against Lee.
It should be noted that the scoring of the Al Haymon backed fighter’s last few contests have raised eyebrows with excessively wide scorecards. One gets the feeling that any close rounds will go in favour of the former champ and Lee may well need a knockout to ensure victory.
The likeable Limerick man’s is confident of a win saying that “I have to come our firing from the start and impose myself. If I do that, I’ll be on my way to winning the fight.” If Andy does indeed start fast and impose his will and power shots I can see him forcing another stoppage victory here and keeping his belt.
Andy Lee -v- Peter Quillin is live on Boxnation from 1:30am this Sunday morning.