It's been a mixed year for Peter Quillin aka Kid Chocolate, the 31-year-old hitter, an NYC resident with a 31-0 mark, and 22 KOs to his credit.
But in the years I have known him, he isn't one to lead with frown-y news.
How you doing, Choc?
“I'm blessed,” he told me on Tuesday afternoon, having just come back from Vegas that morning after taking in the Amir Khan-Devon Alexander card, and taking part in Andre Berto's Black Out Boxing call-for-peace sit-down. “One day at a time.”
Blessed, indeed. His baby, Joaquin, was born Aug. 23, and he's had a ball doing daddy duty, diaper duty, and spending quality time with his missus and the l'il one.
We haven't seen the Chicago born, raised in Michigan boxer, who has been fighting for Golden Boy and is advised by Al Haymon, and managed by Jon Seip, in a ring since April. He scored a UD12 win over 'who dat-er' Lukas Konecny, on Showtime, and then we thought he'd glove up against against prospect turned contender Matt Korobov, to defend his WBO middleweight belt. But that didn't play out…
Why, we wondered? Twitter, luckily, figured it out.
It's because Quillin is a numbskull, some said. It's because he's a fraidy cat…even though, hello, he's been a pro since 2005, I've seen and heard him call out big-name hitters, like Sergio Martinez a few years back, and Andy Lee, the guy who just kayoed Korobov, and snagged that WBO belt which Quillin renounced rather than taking the date to meet the Russian. It's because he's getting bum advice from…who knows who…Al Haymon…a street-corner psychic? I've taken to the Twitter to offer a bit of a counter-narrative, along the lines of hey, let's wait to pull the triggers, can't we? Let's see how this plays out, and take a long view, and see if the wisdom of turning down a career high payday, about $1.4 million, to defend versus Korobov turns out to be sound. Let's see how 2015 plays out, and then weigh in, shall we?
Quillin agrees with that reasoning. He told me he's keen to fight “three or four times” in 2015, and he threw out some names he'd be pleased to waltz with. And, for the record, Quillin is fine with the Twitter chirpers coming back and weighing in fully on his choices and such at the end of 2015. He's confident that '15 will be a bounce-back year, and naysayers will be proven wrong.
But before we get to those names, I asked him what he'd been up to since April. And the boxer implicitly reminded me that he's a human being first, and fighter second. His father, he told me, had a heart attack three days after the Konecny fight. Then, his uncle was diagnosed with stage four pancreatic cancer. Dad is doing well, recovering in Grand Rapids, Quillin told me, but he acknowledged that an emotional toll was taken on him.
So real life is intruding on him, he's got a new baby present, with a wife who'd been faced with a pre-mature ending to a previous pregnancy…and then he's told about a fight date, against a guy he doesn't know anything about, Korobov, and guess what…he's not in a mental place to embrace it with both hands. Yeah, that happens..because, remember, fighters are people too? And much as we want and need to see them as machines impervious to mental slings and arrows, they often aren't. Quillin isn't…
“In 2015, I want to make up the lost time,” he told me. “As for people saying I turned down a payday, I can always get another payday.” And he's aiming for names, no offense to Korobov, bigger than Korobov. “I didn't want to be forced to fight Korobov.” If, say, the purse bid business and cemented date had been to fight Miguel Cotto, then, he said, we would have seen a different course of action.
Quillin did see Lee's right hook smasher and follow up fury, and gives Lee all due credit. A fight with Lee is something he thought he had secured, underneath the March 2012 Sergio Martinez-Matthew Macklin scrap, and he'd be open to a re-visit. He thinks the purse could be sweet and the joint packed for him against Lee in NYC. “Why not?” he asked rhetorically.
We likely see him back in business as a fighter in February or March, he told me, and noted that right after he got off the phone with me, he'd be headed to the gym to do his thing. Yep, message is clear…he's a fighter, still a fighter, still hungry, wants to make up for lost time.
A scrap with Brooklyner Danny Jacobs is one I think will get made in 2015, and I told Quillin I'm anticipating it greatly. “That fight is a great idea,” Quillin said. “Jermain Taylor is a good idea, Cotto, Golovkin, too.” Triple G is not somebody he fears fighting, he told me, but purses for his foes, Quillin said, haven't been of the sort that makes the risk-reward ratio truly tempting for him. “Nope, no fear,” he told me when I asked about butterflies in signing to fight Golovkin.
Quillin fully comprehends the landscape, and knows that political alliances are still in play, and allegiances sometimes shift, and sometimes don't…that affected him this year, and he notes that the same can be said of Golovkin. Richard Schaefer wanted to do a purse bid for a Golovkin-Quillin fight, Quillin said, but was rebuffed because Team Golovkin didn't want to cross rough political waters. Why not see what you can do at 168, Quillin threw out there, some peer-to-peer advice to the baby-faced banger?
Then, it was time to end the chat, get back to work, back to the gym, back toward the beginning of a new chapter, 2015, a return to being busy, to being active. Is he, I wondered, in closing, chomping at the bit to glove up again, and show the Twittersphere he's not lost any warrior instinct? “I love fighting, even when I watch it! And now I got to take care of my little baby boy. I'll be back in February or March!”
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