Irish middleweight contender Jason Quigley has spoken of the highs and lows of the boxing business after a topsy-turvy 2021.
Quigley had been in the frame to face pound-for-pound star Saul Alvarez earlier in the year but despite being on a shortlist of three was rejected when Avni Yildrim took the call instead.
Quigley then defeated Shane Mosley Jr in May and his upward trajectory continued all the way into the announcement that he would face WBO middleweight champion Demetrius Andrade in Boston on November 19.
“It was obviously a disappointment when the Canelo fight didn’t come off, going from such a high to such a low but, look, once you have a few years in this boxing game you understand it’s one hell of an up and down sport,” Quigley explained.
“You don’t ever take anything for granted unless that contract’s signed and it’s told me to be in the moment, to be present and not think too far ahead. I was one of three opponents that was possible for Canelo and it went to Yildrim – who I thought would have been one of the most unlikely. He wasn’t with Golden Boy and I was and I thought it was a very easy fight to get made, but it didn’t happen. That’s in the past and you move on from that. It’s great to be even in conversation about great fights like that and that’s the way that I took it, I used it down the line. To be in the conversation for having a fight with Canelo is only going to be an advantage for me moving forwards, thinking I’m definitely going to get that world title shot, and here I am. I had a great victory over Shane Mosley Jr back in May in Vegas and that’s set me up for Andrade for the world middleweight title.”
Canelo’s name is so big in sport that even if you mildly brush up against it, it can benefit you, as Quigley has discovered.
But Andrade is a very different proposition to the Mexican great. The Rhode Island southpaw had a physical fight with Liam Williams back in April and Quigley, a former stablemate of Williams at the Ingle gym in Sheffield, paid close attention.
“It was a great fight,” added the Irishman. ”Early on, everyone thought it was going to be an early night and Liam showed his toughness and his hardness and battled through that early storm. I don’t think that fight was ever going away from Andrade but I think it looked like Liam was coming back into it. Liam really put it on him and tested Andrade and he made Andrade dig deep, which I don’t think he likes to do. He likes to get a good fast start, try to knock you out and if that doesn’t happen, he still has a lead and he likes to coast in the rest of the fight. Liam put up a great fight against him, and I think he rocked and hurt him a few times which looked like it was swaying in Liam’s favour but Andrade was just too technically gifted.”
While the smart southpaw presents Quigley with a very different set of problems to the Mexican great, the 30-year-old challenger not only has faith in himself but he has faith in his coach, former world middleweight champion Andy Lee. They have been in camp in Morecambe with heavyweight Joseph Parker and Isaac Lowe and while Lee was an excellent, stiff-hitting left-hander, he’s not been tempted to put the gloves back on to move around with his charge.
“Everything’s going great with Andy,” continued Quigley. “I don’t think Andy’s put on a pair of gloves since he retired and it would be very difficult to get him in the ring to put the gloves back on just for sparring! Anyone who knows Andy knows he’s a very intelligent man and he’s got a great boxing IQ and when he’s committed to something he sees it through. He was committed to retiring from the sport and walking away and I can’t see him ever stepping back in again. He’s moved on now to the role of coach and he’s doing an amazing job at that.”
Between them they have to devise a strategy that will make Quigley the first man to beat Andrade in 30 bouts as a pro.
“Technically he’s a very skilful fighter,” 19-1 Quigley admitted. “He has a great amateur pedigree and background as a former world amateur gold medallist, so he’s got a lot of skills and talent. Sometimes that doesn’t transfer well into professional boxing in terms of excitement and being a fan friendly fighter and I think that’s been his downfall in terms of stardom because of his style he’s not like a Canelo who moves forward, very aggressive and knocks guys clean out. But he’s a very good, technically-gifted boxer and he can be wild and reckless at times as well.
"He’s a great champion and I need to concentrate on my plan and bringing the best version of me into the ring, not trying to concentrate on him or worrying about what he has. The most important thing is bringing my A game on fight night. Nobody was going to give me a chance against Canelo. A lot of people would say Andrade is an easier fight than Canelo but all these guys have been avoiding Andrade, all these guys haven’t been fighting Andrade. He’s had a world title belt and Canelo could have maybe been undisputed champ at middleweight, which he decided not to do and he moved up in weight. At the end of the day, Andrade is an undefeated fighter, a two-time world champion and if you’re into boxing you know he’s a good champion.”