Jason Quigley

The Super-Middleweight division in the UK is buzzing right now.  James De Gale has recently picked up the IBF title against Andre Dirrell, George Groves has his own title fight in the pipeline with Badou Jack.  Callum Smith and Rocky Fielding are making impressions in Liverpool, and look to face each other later in 2015 in a huge domestic fight.  Of course the biggest face in the division for the UK, Carl Froch, has recently retired - leaving a chasm to be filled.  There is one man from Ireland who is looking to be that person - Jason Quigley.
 
A highly decorated amateur, Jason Quigley boxed in the high profile World Series of Boxing, as well as European and World Championships.  What was his highlight?  "It has to be becoming the first Irishman ever to get to the World Final and winning a silver medal" Quigley tell me.  In itself that is a huge achievement, he narrowly lost to Kazakh fighter Zhanibek Alimkhanuly in the final.  In April 2014 it was announced that Quigley would be turning professional.  As a high profile fighter with a string of amateur achievements the options were open for him - amateur fighters held a high stock at the time, with Olympic gold medallists Luke Campbell and Anthony Joshua both making waves in the pro sport.  So where did Jason choose to place his promotional chips?  Well, when former Olympic gold medallist and multi-time world champion Oscar De La Hoya knocks on your door, it's hard to say no.  How did this come about?
 
"Golden Boy had their eye on me and through word of mouth they got my info and contacted me - before I knew it I was sitting in the conference room in Los Angeles in front of the man himself, Oscar De La Hoya, discussing promotional possibilities. Then my management team Sheer Sports were very aggressive in courting me and I signed with both the same day."
 
Quite the acclaim for the young man from Ballybofey, Ireland.  Still only 24 years old, he has made an impressive start to professional boxing.  From his seven fights to date, he has recorded seven wins - all by way of stoppage.  Many fighters either struggle to adapt their amateur style to the professional version or lack the spitefulness to sit down on shots and hunt their opponent down.  It would appear neither is applicable to Quigley.  "It's all about adjusting, amateur was computer scores, now I'm settling down on my shots and putting my combos together, I've actually surprised myself carrying that much power." 
 
All seven of his bouts have taken place in the US - aside from the obvious allure of the Golden Boy himself wanting to work with him, were there any other attractions to taking his career to the US so early?  "Whenever most fighters reach the pinnacle of their career they make the transition to America.  I decided it made better sense to come at the beginning of my career and learn all I could from the get go and from the best the US has to offer" says Jason.  It is an approach that was made by another Irishman, Wayne McCullough, back in the early 90's.  It didn't work out so bad for him, picking up a WBC world title.
 
The debut professional fight for Jason Quigley was at a venue that many of the most experienced boxers will never get a chance to fight at - the MGM Garden.  After all of the amateur achievements for him, how much of a dream was it to make a debut at the iconic building?  "It was a massive dream come
 true, I think it was when I did my ring walk and saw the MGM Grand logo I could see the past champions in my head that have walked that walk, and now it was my turn and it was a surreal experience. Next time I do that walk I hope the place is filled with Irish voices."
 
Clearly Golden Boy have big plans for this young man.  Following his professional debut, his second fight out was on the undercard of Britain's Kell Brook when he fought Shawn Porter for the IBF welterweight title at the StubHub Centre in California.  A large outdoor arena with a Brit fighting for a world title provided the perfect platform for Quigley to showcase his talents both in the UK and the US.  It came only a month after his debut bout and he took on Fernando Najera of Mexico.  Was it planned to provide a cross-over to both sets of audiences?  
 
"Having came off a great pro-debut, Golden Boy were eager to get me back in the ring. The Porter vs. Brook card was their next date I was feeling good, I was ready to go again so all the pieces fell into place.  It was great that people back home got to see my first televised pro fight as well" he tell me.  So what was it like getting his first taste of an outdoor fight?  "Fighting at the Stub Hub is a great venue, every seat in has a clear view of the ring, I actually forgot I was fighting outdoors once I got in the ring."
Jason Quigley
Tougher tests will be to come than the Mexican, who he knocked out in round three of their fight.  In his last ring outing Quigley took on his first opponent with a winning record, Tom Howard (8-3-0).  The step up didn't cause any issues, resulting in a second round stoppage after twice dropping his opponent.  After making it seven stoppages from seven fights, did he ever envisage that he would be successful in turning professional?  "I did, not to sound cocky but I'm confident.  I never look for a KO, but if the opportunity arises I’ll handle it and take them out. It just so happens it gone this way so far, but thats not to say it will always go this way. but I'm prepared for anything."
 
A very balanced view from the young Irishman.  Although clearly harnessing power, he sounds keen to ensure that he doesn't rush the fights in a way that perhaps some professional novices would.  With years on his side still, has a route been planned to take Quigley to the peak of the sport?  "Fight by fight my management team Sheer Sports and Golden Boy will guide me in the right direction.  I never look past a fight so right now its all about August 8th and what comes after that we shall see."

The fight on August the 8th will be the 8th fight in 13 months as a professional.  The resume is building quickly, as is his reputation within the division.  Quigley may not be spoken about too widely within the UK as he creates his own path within the US.  So are we likely to see him bring his knockout power back to these shores in the near future?

"Yes definitely, its a dream to come home and fill an stadium for my Irish fans, they have been loyal supporters of me my entire career so I’d like to give them a ‘back yard’ fight so to speak rather than them having to fly half way across the world to see me.  It would be my 'thank you’ fight to them and even then that’s not enough for what they have given to me."

Jason Quigley clearly understands that those supporters are the same ones who can help make his boxing career a success.  As well as the natural talent that has been displayed coast-to-coast in America (literally, having been in both California and Massachusetts) he hungers to give the Irish fans a new fighter to support.  The land that has produced such world champions as McCullough and Barry McGuigan has another prospect on their hands.  For the timebeing the exposure to the UK public may be limited, but with a division so ripe in both prospects and established stars there are opportunities for Quigley to make a huge name for himself - and perhaps even fill a Froch sized gap.

Many thanks to Jason Quigley for his time and to Rachel Charles of Sheer Sports for facilitating the interview.