Pair of one-loss veterans look to get back on title track with win over one another tomorrow night on PBC on FOX.
Redemption is an oft-used but not necessarily overused cliché in boxing.
The word fits like the proverbial (boxing) glove in describing Saturday night’s 10-round, 168-pound showdown between former middleweight champ Peter “Kid Chocolate” Quillin and contender J’Leon Love at the old Nassau Coliseum (now NYCB Live) in Uniondale, N.Y. and live in primetime on FOX and FOX Deportes (7:30 p.m. ET/4:30 p.m. PT).
Quillin, 35, and Love, 30, are veterans with one blemish on their records. In each case it was an early, devastating knockout that, at least temporarily, derailed their careers. While the circumstances were different, the end game is the same: Both men come into this fight absolutely needing a victory.
Quillin (33-1-1, 23 KOs) doesn’t have to be reminded about what is at stake. He has fought only once since his stunning first-round TKO loss, though he was never knocked down, to WBA middleweight champ Daniel Jacobs in December 2015. He was admittedly humiliated by a loss he says he dreamed would happen, but believes it was meant to happen if for no other reason than to purge the hangers-on around him that didn’t really care for him, only his money.
He contemplated retiring at the peak of his career but ultimately felt that would be a selfish move for himself, his family, friends and fans. He’s glad he resisted the temptation.
“What’s more inspiring a story in boxing than redemption?” Quillin said. “Redeeming yourself. It’s always a good thing to do that, so that’s where I’m at right now. I’m in a place where I have to redeem my career so at least I can retire with some comfort and peace.”
After nearly two years of inactivity, Quillin returned to the ring against journeyman Dashon Johnson last September, winning a unanimous eight-round decision at light heavyweight. Now he’s settled in at super middleweight, where he says he feels very comfortable. He has gone through a few trainers over the years, most recently Virgil Hunter. But two months ago he hired Aureliano Sosa to get back to training in his hometown of Brooklyn, N.Y., where he can spend more time with his family.
“I’ve been working exceptionally hard under Sosa’s guidance,” Quillin said.
Lou DiBella, who is promoting Saturday’s Premier Boxing Champions card, has seen the result of that hard work. DiBella has known and promoted Quillin since his professional debut 13 years ago. He knows him perhaps better than anyone outside of Quillin’s family.
“There was a time (after his loss) when I wondered if he had the eye of the tiger, the fire in his gut,” said DiBella. But those fears were allayed during a recent promotional appearance with Quillin. In fact, he says he has never seen “Kid Chocolate” look so good so close to a fight.
“I’ve known Pete for a long time and I told him the other day this is the best I’ve seen him look in years,” DiBella said. “His mental state, he looks happy, he looks healthy, he’s clear-eyed, he’s very enthusiastic and optimistic and his physical conditioning looked amazing. He looked like he was ready to walk in the ring.”
DiBella knows Love well, too, having promoted him early on before Love (24-1-1, 13 KOs) moved over to Mayweather Promotions where he has mostly thrived. The one exception was his third-round knockout loss to Rogelio Medina four years ago. Love has gone 6-0-1 since, and is coming off a unanimous 10-round decision over Jaime Barboza in May.
Expect a clash of styles between orthodox fighters. Quillin is a huge puncher with power and aggressiveness and is likely to come after Love from the opening bell, hoping to end it early. Love, who developed his ring skills at the Kronk Gym in Detroit, is a boxer-puncher who will try to use his jab to keep Quillin at bay. He’s honed his defensive skills under the tutelage of Floyd Mayweather, Jr. He has enough power to keep Quillin honest and make him pay if “Kid Chocolate” gets reckless and forgets about defense, as he has been known to do. It’s hard to get a read on Quillin’s current style since he’s been so inactive the last few years.
Mayweather Promotions CEO Leonard Ellerbe has faith that Love will not be checking his gut anytime soon.
“It’s a critical fight for both guys’ careers, and it’s a must-win fight,” Ellerbe said. “That’s what makes for exciting fights. We’re very confident J’Leon is going to get the win against a very tough, former world champion in ‘Kid Chocolate.’
“There have been some misfortunes that have happened in his career [including a failed drug test after his fight against Gabe Rosado in 2013], but he’s a young veteran. He hasn’t lost sight of his goal, and that’s his opportunity to win a world championship. He’s knocking at the door. This is a very, very big fight for him and we’re confident he’s going get the job done.”
On top of the import for both fighters’ careers, Quillin offered added incentive. He grew up in Grand Rapids, Mich., the hometown of Mayweather, and Love grew up near Detroit.
“It’s Western Michigan vs. Eastern Michigan,” Quillin said. “This fight here is for the whole state of Michigan. This fight is going to unite us.”
Quillin believes Love needs the fight more than he does. “I’m not trying to disrespect him, but I’m a fighter that he needs the name in order to make the splash he wants to make,” Quillin said. “I’m the fighter he needs on his resume. I will put him in that spotlight. My job is to stop that from happening.”
The Quillin-Love matchup is the co-feature on an intriguing Fox card headed by Andre Berto vs. Devon Alexander in a 12-round welterweight showdown. It fits into the same category as Quillin-Love.
Must-win and redemption.