During his rise to a 160-pound world championship, Peter Quillin was as active as anyone in the division, fighting an average of four times annually from mid-2005 (when he turned pro) through 2011.
But since his first title defense against Fernando Guerrero in his hometown of Brooklyn, New York, in April 2013—a seventh-round technical knockout, which came six months after he won the crown via unanimous decision against Hassan N’Dam—Quillin’s between-fight breaks have been lengthy.
In the nearly 2½ years since defeating Guerrero, Quillin has been in the ring just three times, a sporadic schedule that included him vacating his title to spend time with his wife and newborn son.
In April, Quillin ended a career-long 363-day layoff when he returned to the ring to face Andy Lee in Brooklyn. Although “Kid Chocolate” showed little rust early on—he knocked Lee down in the first and third rounds—Quillin wasn’t entirely sharp, as the British fighter sent him to the canvas for the first time in his career in the seventh.
The 12-round bout eventually went to the scorecards, with the end result being a split draw—the first time in 32 pro fights that Quillin walked out of the ring anything other than victorious.
Although displeased with the result against Lee, trainer Eric Brown wasn’t dissatisfied with Quillin’s effort. “I had few complaints, given he’d been out of action for so long,” Brown says. “Pete rose above adversity and showed the mark of a real champion. I thought we won that fight. But Andy’s got skills.”
Brown wants to see a more complete Peter Quillin (31-0, 22 KOs) when his fighter highlights a Premier Boxing Champions card September 12 against Michael Zerafa (17-1, 9 KOs) at Foxwoods Casino in Mashantucket, Connecticut (NBC, 4 p.m. ET/1 p.m. PT).
“I think it will go five or six rounds. But no matter what, I want Pete to trust his conditioning, fight with confidence and not second-guess himself,” says Brown, who trains Quillin at the Eastern Athletic Club in Brooklyn. “I want to see ring generalship, whether it’s breaking the guy down and knocking him out, or dominating all the way through a fight that goes the distance.”
Quillin acknowledged some flaws against Lee, most notably failing to finish off the world champ, who had claimed Quillin's vacated title in December with a win over Matt Korobov, following the early knockdowns.
“After watching a couple of rounds, I knew right away what I needed to work on,” Quillin says. “I need to be more disciplined defensively, throw more punches, be more fluid and not think so much.”
His first opportunity to put that plan into action will be against Zerafa, a 23-year-old Australian coming off a fourth-round knockout of Yodmongkol Singmanasak in March. It marked Zerafa’s second straight stoppage victory since losing a unanimous decision to unbeaten Arif Magomedov in October.
“We’re not taking anything for granted with this guy,” Brown says of Zerafa. “Unless he's on the floor snoring, you can always get hit by something. You don’t want a guy to hit the lottery with one shot.”
Against Zerafa, Quillin will be looking to once again display the immense power that saw him score 12 combined knockdowns during a four-fight stretch from June 2012 to October 2013. That included six knockdowns of N’Dam en route to winning his first title.
Not that his trainer is all that concerned about how the victories come, just as long as they do—and as long as Quillin continues to execute the game plan in the process.
“Pete’s proven how tough he is, over and over again,” Brown said. “But with a more active fighting schedule, I want him to being more intelligent, relaxed and assertive, being a better finisher and defensively sound. Because in the next stage of his career, Pete’s looking at some major fights.
“I have confidence that Pete can rise above any situation, but he will probably be tested in ways that he’s never been tested before.”
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