Jason Quigley

March 23rd 2017 should have been a joyous moment for Jason Quigley.  Having outclassed and out pointed the tough Glen Tapia over 10 rounds to pick up his first professional title, the 26 year old should have been plotting his route to the next belt around his waist.  But there was a problem.  The same hands that had helped him capture the NABF middleweight title were showing signs of damage; specifically the right hand. 
A ’one in ten million’ injury occurred, which has meant that a full year has passed since the chirpy Irishman has been able to carry on up the rankings.  Whereas some may be downbeat about it, there is no sense of sadness when speaking to Donegal.  Instead of sulking, he has been busy.  A change of training camp has seen him uproot his Los Angeles base and make the trip to Sheffield, where he is now coached by renowned Trainer Dominic Ingle.
“A lot of people probably called me crazy moving from Los Angeles to Sheffield but it’s where the heart is happy that counts and that’s what’s going on right now” Quigley tells me.  “I’m happy in myself and my personal life and boxing life.  Once you’re happy you’re a dangerous man.”
Quigley was already a dangerous man.  10 stoppages from 13 fights can attest to that and with a right hand now fully recovered, it’s time to get back onto the title path.  It starts on Saturday 31st March out in Quincy, Massachusetts, where Quigley will return in an eight round fight against Puerto Rico’s Daniel Rosario Cruz.  So how has the damaged hand been through the first full training camp since it occurred?
“Of course, there will be concerns but to be honest it feels brilliant” he tells me.  “I’ve been sparring solid rounds.  I was one of Kell Brook’s main sparring partners for his last fight and got him in great shape doing some good rounds and the hand felt 100%.  I’ve been sparring Liam Williams this week, we were both catching each other with good shots and it felt fine.  Whenever I catch someone with a good shot now I don’t think ‘I got them with a good shot’ I think ‘jeez, my hand’s OK!’.  But even that feeling has passed now.”
Although no doubt there will be an element of doubt when the head guards are no longer on, the smaller gloves are strapped up and the bell goes, but for now the plan appears simple.  Fight like there is no problem. 
It will be the first time that Quigley has been cornered for a fight by Dominic Ingle.  Quigley recounts how he has always admired the gym from afar, tells me how when he fought on the undercard of Kell Brook’s successful challenge for a world title in Los Angeles, the relationship between the Sheffield fighter and his trainer has stayed with him.
“One thing that stuck in my head was the evening before Kell’s fight, I saw Dom and Kell walking down the street together, maybe not even chatting boxing.  It looked like a solid relationship, a good setup, and that stuck in my head from day one.”
In the short period of time that Quigley has had to work with the Ingle camp, he has been impressed by the thoroughness of his new trainer and the hands on approach taken.
“Dominic is a very smart man, very intelligent.  He knows the boxing game but he knows how to train you as a person as well.  It’s not all about knowing how to tell a fighter to fight, it’s about knowing when to push them, when to ease them off, when they’re tired or when they’re strong.  Dominic is a very good reader of that and for me, that was a key part of my move over here.  I wanted a coach who was there with you when you’re running in the morning, when you’re in the gym, when you’re doing weights.  Everything.  It’s very important for a coach to see exactly what you do in every training session, seeing exactly what you’re putting in and what that’s taking out of you, so he knows what to do in the next session.”
The plan is for Jason to fly to America seven days prior to his fight, Dominic to follow shortly after.  The importance of their first fight together means it is imperative they get optimum preparation time.  It isn’t easy though; a bustling gym with the likes of Kell Brook, Billy Joe Saunders and Atif Shafiq means that the workload has to be balanced finely.  For Quigley though, he sees the local competition as only being a positive.
“That gym, everyone just gels so well.  We all train together, push each other on and there’s no concentrating on one fighter over the others.  It doesn’t matter if you’re fighting a four rounder on your debut or fighting for a world title, we’re all training the same and all get the same attention.  I think that’s what makes it so special.”
The culture shift for Quigley has been significant in his move to Sheffield.  It now means that he has three bases; Sheffield, back home in Ireland and out in America where his Promoters Golden Boy are based.  Again, Quigley can only see the positive in it.
““I’ve three different lifestyles going on!  Coming to Sheffield has brought me back to my roots a wee bit more; I know I’m not born in the UK, I was born in Donegal in Ireland, but the people and the culture has brought me back to my roots.  I feel like I’m where I belong.  Donegal is a small town place that I come from; the bright lights of Los Angeles and Hollywood don’t really suit me!  Don’t get me wrong, I can go there and look the part and walk on the red carpet whenever I want, but it’s not somewhere I can settle myself.  I’ll go there for a few weeks to blow out, then it’ll be back to normality.”
Given that Golden Boy has earmarked him as a star for the future and made sure he is active on their American shows, is there a risk that the Donegal boxer could sour his relationship by being so far away during training camps?
“Not one bit.  Golden Boy was more than supportive of my move and the relationship with Golden Boy is unbelievable, also with my Management team Sheer Sport, the team that I have around me.  We all get on so well and that’s very important” Quigley enthuses.  He laughs as he recalls his initial encounter with majority owner of the Promotional company, former six weight world champion Oscar De La Hoya.
“The first time I went in, to sign my contract, I was taken into his office and all the pictures are up of him around this really swanky office in the middle of downtown LA.  I’m sat in this beautiful office and the next thing, Oscar De La Hoya is sitting across from me wanting my signature to sign for him!  It was a wee bit surreal.  But now, me and Oscar have a great relationship and he’s a good friend of mine, as are all the Golden Boy team.  Eric Gomez, Robert Diaz, it’s a very special group of people and that’s why I’m confident I can have a great career.  With Oscar, you try and name any other Promoter out there that has had the career he has had, been through the highs and lows he has.  None of them know what a boxer goes through like Oscar does, so the fact he is Promoting now is a recipe for success.”
The starstruck boxer is now gone, as Quigley talks fondly of how De La Hoya is now a friend as much as a boss.  It is with his guidance that Quigley is hoping 2018 can be his breakout year.  He still sees there is unfinished business with the NABF belt.
“You can win a belt, but to own it you have to defend it and that’s what I plan on doing.  This fight isn’t a defence, it’s an eight rounder to get me into the swing of things again, then after this I was to defend the title and climb the rankings.  At the end of this year I’d love to be in line for a world title eliminator or even early next year.  This is a year where I want to put some good names behind me, get them under my belt and put in some great performances.”
For now though, Saturday 31st March is the focus.  Quigley is looking forward to what he hopes will be a homecoming overseas, anticipating the Boston suburb to be a sea of green Irish support.  “Boston will probably feel more at home than actual home will be because there’s that many Irish there!  I think all of Donegal will be there, it’ll feel homely” he laughs. 
Quite where home is for Quigley at the moment may be a confusing question.  But as with all things Jason Quigley related, what some may see as a dilution or a negative, he sees as only bringing a positive.  It is this mindset you suspect that has been key to the recovery of his hand and his focus on big plans for 2018.  With such a stellar team around him, March 31st represents an opportunity for Jason Quigley to pick up where he left off, which can only be a positive.
Jason wished to thank his sponsors, Villa Rose & Jackson Hotels and Michael McElhinneys  Department Store, both of whom provide him key assistance in his boxing career.