While Peter Quillin was getting his hands wrapped before Monday afternoon’s workout at the Eastern Athletic Club in Brooklyn, New York, he had a brief chat with his trainer, Eric Brown.
Nothing out of there ordinary there, as trainers and fighters often talk before a workout. But the topic of this particular conversation had nothing to do with Quillin’s preparations for his September 12 fight against Australia’s Michael Zerafa (17-1, 9 KOs) at Foxwoods Casino in Mashantucket, Connecticut, which will be televised on NBC (4 p.m. ET/1 p.m. PT).
Rather, Brown wanted to point out that he’s noticed a change in his fighter’s demeanor—a change for the better.
“Eric sees more maturity, growth and focus in me,” says Peter Quillin (31-0-1, 22 KOs), a former 160-pound champion. “Having a child brings a lot of things into perspective."
Some 24 hours earlier, Quillin and his wife, Allison, celebrated the first birthday of their son, Joaquin Enriquez Quillin. About 25 kids and their parents attended the party, dining on Cuban food prepared by Quillin’s Cuban-born, 77-year-old father, Pedro.
“Joaquin has changed my life,” says Quillin, 32. "I’m more aware of where I came from, what’s at stake, who I am as a person."
The day after Joaquin’s birth, Quillin posted on his Facebook page a photo of his newborn son’s left hand clutching his right forefinger. “Now he’s walking around. We’re having conversations in baby talk," Quillin says. “He’s calling me, ‘Papa,’ and trying to say abuelo (grandfather in Spanish).”
“Every time I see his face it gives me nothing but joy, purpose and motivation.”
It’s easy to understand Quillin’s jubilation when you realize the heartache he and Allison had to endure prior to Joaquin’s arrival: In October 2013, while Quillin was preparing for a fight against Gabriel Rosado, Allison suffered a miscarriage. With a heavy heart, Quillin went ahead with the fight, defeating Rosado by 10th-round technical knockout.
“Losing the baby was the most difficult struggle to experience in our life,” says Quillin, a Chicago native who now lives in Brooklyn. “But it makes me appreciate my wife and my son even more. It’s why I train better, smarter and harder.”
Brown noticed a difference in Quillin’s demeanor following his split draw with world champion Andy Lee in April at Barclays Center in Brooklyn.
“Instead of crying and pissing and moaning about it, he chose to move on, refocus and do better the next time,” Brown says. “There were previous points in [his] life where he might have been more angry and upset. Now, he has it in perspective.”
Joaquin was born less than a week after Quillin learned he had landed the biggest payday of his career: a fight against Matt Korobov slated for November 8. But rather than make the fifth defense of the title he won by unanimous decision over Hassan N’Dam in October 2012, Quillin pulled out of the fight, leaving the hefty paycheck on the table so he could spend more time with Allison and his baby.
“Paydays will come and go, but family is priceless,” Brown says. “Watching your wife give birth to your son is a once-in-a-lifetime gift that you’ll never get back. You cherish that experience for the rest of your life.”
For complete coverage of Quillin vs Zerafa, visit our fight page.