Quillin looking to regain championship form under veteran trainer Hunter

Peter Quillin is a former 160-pound champion who owns 32 victories in 34 career fights, with 23 of those triumphs coming by knockout. Rather than bask in his tremendous success, though, Quillin remains irked by the two that got away.

Peter Quillin and Andy Lee

Peter Quillin (left) fought Andy Lee to a split draw in April 2015, with both fighters hitting the canvas. It marked the first time in his career that Quillin left the ring without a victory. (Suzanne Teresa/Premier Boxing Champions)

In April 2015, Peter Quillin carried a 31-0 record into his matchup against veteran southpaw Andy Lee. It was Quillin’s first fight in nearly a year and his first since vacating his world title in September 2014.

Quillin looked sharp early on, putting Lee on the canvas in the first and third rounds. But “Kid Chocolate” faded down the stretch, hit the deck himself in Round 7 and had to settle for a 12-round split draw.

Then, following a vicious fifth-round KO of Australian Michael Zerafa last September, Quillin challenged fellow Brooklyn, New York, resident Daniel Jacobs for his 160-pound title on December 5. It was expected to be an exciting, highly competitive fight. Instead, it lasted just 85 seconds, with Jacobs scoring a shocking TKO.

Looking back at his efforts against Lee and Jacobs, Quillin is quick to play the blame game—that is, he wholly blames himself.

“I’ve watched both of those fights twice,” Quillin says. “There was no head movement or footwork. I went out straight at Jacobs with the intensity of trying to knock him out, [and didn’t] jab. I was thinking like a puncher instead of the athletic boxer I can be.

“I was high on my power, so my boxing ability was lacking against Lee and Jacobs.”

Although Quillin hasn’t fought since the Jacobs loss, he hasn’t exactly been idle. In fact, after parting ways with longtime trainer Eric Brown, he headed across the country three months ago and hooked up with renowned trainer Virgil Hunter at the latter’s boxing gym in Hayward, California.

Separating from Brown wasn’t easy, but it was a move Quillin believes was necessary to advance his career under Hunter, who is offering his new fighter more than just physical guidance.

“Before coming here, I respectfully called Eric Brown. We had a father-son relationship, but he's a respectful man and was cool with it,” Quillin says. “Virgil just teaches on a different level, [and motivates with] certain sayings or Bible scriptures.”

I was high on my power, so my boxing ability was lacking against [Andy] Lee and [Daniel] Jacobs. Peter Quillin

Hunter, the Boxing Writers Association of America’s 2011 Trainer of the Year, has been the career-long cornerman for 2004 Olympic gold medalist and former 168-pound world champ Andre Ward. He’s also worked with former champions Amir Khan, Andre Berto and Abner Mares.

Hunter agrees that Quillin—who had scored a combined 12 knockdowns and two knockouts in five fights before facing Lee—grew overly infatuated with his power. That said, Hunter isn’t looking to reign in Quillin’s aggressiveness so much as he wants him to stay true to his fundamentals when applying pressure.

“Peter Quillin is a tremendous puncher with an upside that I can help him to achieve,” Hunter says. “Of course there are mistakes made when you get knocked out as early as he did by Danny Jacobs, not taking his time, feeling him out, and that’s what I said to Peter about his aggression in the first round.”

Quillin believes he’s already raised his game in his brief time working with Hunter. But both teacher and pupil credit another man for being a positive influence on Quillin: That would be Ward, who is one of boxing’s most dedicated gym rats.

“Andre is a class act, champion and role model,” Quillin says. “There’s a general structure with Andre that drives the atmosphere [in the gym]. We’ve talked about how I can conduct myself moving forward.”

While Ward (30-0, 15 KOs) is getting ready to challenge 175-pound titleholder Sergey Kovalev (30-0-1, 26 KOs) on November 19 in Las Vegas, Quillin is still plotting his return to the ring.

When he does fight again, it’s possible he could rise to the 168-pound division after spending his entire career around 160.

“I’ve been the same weight since I was 18, and I’m 33 now,” says Quillin, whose career-high fighting weight was 165½ pounds for a third-round TKO of Jesse Brinkley in April 2011. “After doing that for my whole career, maybe it’s time to go up in weight.

“I have faith in the direction I’m getting and a clear picture of how to get back to where I was. You can’t always tell a man’s character by how he wins; it’s a truer test to see how he responds after he loses. I’m ready to fight at any time, but for right now, we’re just taking it day by day.”

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