By Eric Duran
Peter Quillin: Inspired too inspire
“A week before camp I visited my uncle. He was dying from liver cancer. Watching my uncle die, that was a real fight. I saw him fight until he couldn’t fight more.” Eric Munson would die a week later while Quillin was thousands of miles away in Santa Monica, Ca. Quillin wouldn’t attend the services for his uncle due to him being in camp. Quillin knew in his heart that his Uncle would rather him stay in camp and focus on his upcoming World Championship with Andy Lee.
Photo: Ed Diller/ DBE
Munson was more then a uncle to Quillin, “when my father was imprisoned, he became more of a father figure,” stated Quillin. Quillin still remembers the last words his uncle spoke to him, “he told me he was proud of me,” stated Quillin.
Quillin (31-0, 22 KO’s) made a business decision last year to vacate his WBO Middleweight title, “I don’t get involved with the politics,” stated Quillin. It was a decision that payed off in favor of Quillin. Recently, Quillin parted ways with Golden Boy Promotions and left his manager, Al Haymon, “Not only am I fighting for my same title, my opponent is better and financially, the bout is better,” stated Quillin.
Andy Lee (34-2, 24 KO’s) would go on to defeat Matt Korobov for Quillin’s vacant title. It was Lee’s sixth consecutive win. Quillin feels no pressure heading into the right, “The pressure is all on Lee. I’m still a champ regardless of the belt, I’m undefeated,” stated Quillin. Quillin, however, respects Lee, “Andy is coming to prove he is a worthy champion. He doesn’t want to lose again.”
Photo: Angela Cranford/Barclays Center
It will be close to a year off for Quillin when he steps into the ring to face Lee, “It comes with the territory, in the end, it’s a business. He doesn’t feel like the time away will have any affect on his performance, “I’m a animal and confident in myself. All I have to do, is do what I have for 31 fights, be the explosive boxer I am,” stated Quillin.
Mentally, Quillin is in a good spot heading into the bout. He’s looking at the bigger picture of life following the death of his uncle and his time off from the ring, “I’m really thankful for the opportunity Al Haymon is providing me. Financially, I’ll be able to retire comfortably,” stated Quillin. It’s a far cry from growing up on the tough streets of Grand Rapids, MI and Brooklyn. But even with the success and fame, Quillin wants to inspire, “I’m just thankful to God for the fresh air that I’m breathing. I have a chance to inspire the kids as well as other boxers.
According to Quillin, Lee is just another chapter in his expanding story, “I’m excited to have the chance at becoming a 2-time world champion,” stated Quillin.
Andy Lee: Fighting to keep his respect
Andy Lee’s run to a championship was a long, uphill battle, 8 years in the making. At the 2004 Olympics, he a lost narrow decision to former WBO/WBA Middleweight champion, Hassam N’Dam N’Jikam. Lee returned home a hero to his native Ireland. The Irish Sports Council was ready to fund Lee for a run at the 2008 Olympics. Lee opted instead to turn pro, signing with the late, Emmanuel Steward to become his manager and trainer.
Lee (34-2, 24 KO’s) would turn in 2006, starting that 8 year journey I spoke of earlier. He started off a perfect 15-0 before running into the stoned chinned, Brian Vera. Vera would stop Lee in 7, delaying his run to the title. It would take another 4 years and 13 wins before Lee was fighting for a World Championship.
Lees first chance wouldn’t fare well as he was stopped in 7 rounds by Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. Too add insult to injury, his trainer and mentor, Emmanuel Steward, would pass away 4 months later.
Too ease the loss to Chavez and the loss of Steward, his handlers provided him the necessary opponents to rebuild his confidence, “I believe in my fighter,” stated his promoter, Lou Dibella. The world would come to know Lee over his last 2 fights as he would deliver two devastating, come from behind, knockouts in back to back fights, “I know I was behind on the cards but I knew they would have to trade with me sooner or later. I know if I land the right punch, I can knock anyone out,” stated Lee. In the process, he claimed the NABF Jr. Middleweight title and the WBO Middleweight title against John Jackson and Matt Korobov
With his world championship expectations finally fulfilled, Lee was looking forward to a home coming fight. However, the business end of boxing interfered, “I’m not disappointed at all. Financially, this is a great,” stated Lee. Lee is referring to his match up with the undefeated, former WBO Middleweight champion, Peter Quillin, “A win against Quillin will make me a star in boxing, Globablly,” stated Lee. It was a easy decision for Lee to take the fight against Quillin as Quillin is regarded as one of best fighters in the world.
And with that, Lee has been focused on keeping his belt, “I’m training extremely hard to defend my belt. I’ve been in the gym since my fight with Korobov,” stated Lee. Lee is currently training in Southern France, “it’s a beautiful place to train, along the ocean side.”
Lee understands the challenge Quillin will provide, “I respect him, inside and outside of the ring. He’s a great boxer and good puncher,” stated Lee. Lee also stated that he he brought in a number of sparring partners ranging in size and skill to mimic Quillin’s style. Amongst the biggest fight of his career, Lee almost forgot about his favorite holiday, “I’m so focused I’m almost forget about St. Patricks Day,” stated Lee. There was no celebration as Lee stated he will worry about after he retires.