NEW YORK (Oct. 9, 2012) – Christmas will come early for Peter “Kid Chocolate” Quillin, a New York kind of guy and No. 1-ranked contender who challenges fellow unbeaten WBO Middleweight World Champion Hassan N’Dam in one of four world championship fights on Saturday, October 20, in the first-ever boxing event at the new Barclays Center in Brooklyn, N.Y.
Quillin recently answered six questions with SHOWTIME boxing analyst and historian Steve Farhood:
You're originally from Grand Rapids, Michigan, not New York City, but you’ve lived in New York for the last 12 years. What about you suggests you’re a true New Yorker?
“I have no problem drinking coffee in the morning with a bagel. I’m a corner-bodega kind of guy; I don’t like to be the type of person who goes to Starbucks just because everybody else goes there.
“Also, I’m not really a morning person. On the subway in the morning, there’s dead quiet. Nobody says anything — me included.
“And if somebody asks me for directions, I tell them I don’t know — even if I do.
“I fit right in.”
The original Kid Chocolate was the first world champ from Cuba. Your dad is Cuban. There have been many great Cuban champions, but you're the first one I remember who’s publicly paid homage to Kid Chocolate. Why?
“Fighters here take the name Muhammad for Ali, or Sugar. I took the name Kid Chocolate not so much for Cuba, but for my father, who came here with nothing.
“It’s a tribute to his culture. I went to Cuba 2 1/2 years ago and met three half-brothers and sisters for the first time. My father is 75 and he still lives in Grand Rapids. I speak to him in Spanish more than I ever have. It’s very important for me to learn the language.”
“The original Kid Chocolate was not only a great fighter, but when he came here, he was very big in New York.”
The original Kid Chocolate fought many times in New York City, including several times in Brooklyn. What does it mean to have your biggest fight to date at the brand new Barclays Center in Brooklyn?
“I’ve lived in Brooklyn, and when I first heard about this show, I kept it to myself. You know when you’re growing up and your mom says she’ll get you something for Christmas? Well, you don’t say anything because you’re scared that if you do, it won’t happen.
“This is my Christmas.
“This is big for me. New York created me as a person and a fighter. The aggressiveness… the hard work for something you want. Believe it or not, growing up in Michigan, I used to talk with a fake Brooklyn accent.
(Upon learning that the last world title fight in Brooklyn came 81 years ago) “Man, how do you think that makes me feel?”
There's been a lot of complaining about the lack of top-level American heavyweights, but you’re the only American in the middleweight top 20. Does that create pressure?
“In 1982, there were eight American middleweights rated by ‘The Ring.’ Fast-forward, and now there’s only me, but I’m not letting the pressure get to me. I have to use that fact as motivation. It’s not about the money, it’s about my legacy.
“I never allow anybody to call me champ. I say, ‘We’re getting there.’ After October 20, they’ll call me champ and I’ll accept it gracefully. In fact, I’ll probably cry.”
If you’re successful against N’Dam, what fight might the win propel you toward?
“I have Al Haymon and Golden Boy; all the sweat and pain, and now I’m seeing the rewards. They look after me. Whatever fights come my way.
“Personally, whenever I called for (WBC champion) Sergio Martinez, people said I was being disrespectful, but I just wanted to fight the best.
“And I’m tired of hearing about (WBA champion) Gennady Golovkin. He had 400 amateur fights; he’s supposed to be doing what he’s doing.
“(IBF champion) Daniel Geale…there are too many names out there to call out just one. I’m gonna let my team handle it.”
You've had 27 pro bouts. The original Kid Chocolate had 151. You think you'll catch up?
“That greatness is what I’m working towards, but 151–that’s a scary number.”