By Terence Dooley
Bury’s Scott Quigg has a dream, something that has consumed his every waking hour since he was a young boy; he won’t allow this dream to be clouded by inactivity or disrupted by Frank Warren’s generous offer of a £200,000 purse for a showdown with domestic rival Carl Frampton. Quigg’s aim is to hold aloft the WBA Super bantamweight title, and he believes that his decision to sign with Eddie Hearn and Matchroom Sports will bring him closer to a vacant WBA title showdown against Cuba’s Yoandris Salinas.
“They’re very good people,” said Quigg when speaking to BoxingScene. “Eddie’s very professional. The organisation, and their deal with Sky is a great platform for me to go and do what I do best — get in the ring and perform. I’m self-managed now. You’ve seen the shows Matchroom put on, the platform they give you, and that’s the main thing for me. It is about getting the rounds in. I need activity. There was Golden Boy and Frank Warren, but I spoke to Eddie, him and Sky will give me the platform to build on, and that’s what I’ll do.”
Quigg’s last fight was a sixth-round stoppage of Rendall Munroe on the undercard of Ricky Hatton’s loss to Vyacheslav Senchenko in November. The 24-year-old will break this sabbatical at the Bolton Areana in a fortnight’s time.
“I can’t wait,” he said. “It has been frustrating at times, but I’ve kept in the gym, kept dieting and stayed ready because you have to be ready to take a chance if something comes up. I’ve said over the past few years that the character I am and the personality I’ve got is the reason why I am training with the same intensity as I would if I was fighting and still getting up at 5am. Not many people live the life. Some people think I live a boring life because I just eat, sleep and train. I’m bored and scratching my head if I’m not in the gym.
“All I know is boxing. Even though I’ve lost time in the ring by not fighting, I’m not wasting my time outside the gym. I’m still improving as a fighter and raising my skill level. I’m a better fighter now than I was when I fought Rendall.”
“I’m really pleased for Scott,” added his trainer, Joe Gallagher. “You should do an article called ‘The Undateables’ about some of these kids who can’t get fight dates. A lot of fighters won’t train if they haven’t got a date. Scott got his best win when he beat Munroe, the torch paper was lit, but a job didn’t come in. There was a point where we said: ‘Pause, deep breath, we’ve got to here so let’s practice, build and take stock of where we are’. We’re getting ready for the next chapter in Scott’s career.”
Indeed, Gallagher faces a daily race against time to get to the gym before his charge. More often than not, he would pull up outside their base at Amir Khan’s Gloves ABA gym only to find that Quigg had got there before him.
“I’m getting there even earlier now!” revealed Gallagher. “It is great dedication. Look at Floyd Mayweather, he looks after himself and doesn’t balloon up in weight. We used to stay in fighting shape over here in the 1980s then had the nineties and the 2000s where everyone blew up between fights. At Phil Martin’s Champs Camp and with Brian Hughes fighters, they had the mentality of ticking over in the gym — always ready for a fight. [Anthony] Crolla, Quigg and my lads do that.”
“If Joe says we’ve got to be at the gym for 10 then I’m there before 10 and ready to get started,” said Quigg. “Some people would get there for 10 then start 20 minutes later or something, but I’m there half-an-hour early and ready to start at the time Joe tells me he wants me. I’m like a dog wagging his tail, just waiting for someone to throw the ball so I can chase it.”
Quigg’s win over Munroe saw him crowned the domestic division’s number one. He went through the gears against the former world title challenger, stoically and steadily dismantling his man to move to 25-0 (18).
“It was my best performance,” he said. “It is frustrating because the momentum was there and I thought it would snowball, so when it hit the wall it was tough. The first thing I asked after that fight is when I was next out.
“If Ricky would have won his fight, then things would have been different because he’d have got a TV deal, but it weren’t to be. Obviously, Ricky’s a down-to-earth guy and one of my idols growing up — I used to watch him at the MEN. To box on the undercard of Ricky’s last fight there is something to be proud of. It was a great moment and I’m thankful for what Hatton Promotions did for me, but boxing’s a short career. You only get one shot. I needed to do what was best for my career and move on. I’m very thankful to them.”
“Scott has got a legal team around him, next thing you know he comes in and informs me that he’s got a deal with Matchroom,” said Gallagher. “He’s his own manager and is very [Matthew] Macklin-esque in how he got his career moving. These next few years are very valuable, you can’t get them back and he’ll have made the most of them. Scott’s took control of his career, shook it around and is adamant that he won’t be kept on the shelf.”
Quigg, though, had plenty of praise for Paul Speak, his former manager. He said: “I can’t thank Paul enough. We’re still really good friends. We’ve not fallen out and we speak more or less every other day. We were friends before he managed me and nothing’s changed. Paul did a lot of things for me that made life very easy — like dealing with the media and other things — and let me concentrate on my fights.”
However, the decision to move to Matchroom and towards the WBA title puts a showdown with Frampton on the backburner for the time being. Quigg knows that nothing is certain in boxing, and that a clash between undefeated British contenders is a big thing, but he believes that the two are good enough to produce that rarer beast, an all-British world title unification showdown.
“I know it can sometimes get spoiled,” he admitted. “Look at David Price getting beat when people were talking about him and [Tyson] Fury, but I’m so close to becoming a world champion and want to win the WBA title.”
“They’ve been in each other’s company, they both want it, but everyone’ jumping up and down about it,” added Gallagher. “Boxing’s always been like that, all those light-middleweights didn’t fight [in the 1990s], the current middleweights haven’t and Ricky [Hatton] didn’t fight Junior Witter. This isn’t the first time it’s happened and who’s saying they’re not going to fight? Scott didn’t turn professional to beat Carl — that isn’t going to define their careers. They want to become world champions and if one gets there then they’ll fight each other.”
Many, this writer included, are skeptical, fearing that one or both fighters will lose en route to a meeting and when it does eventually come it will be up at featherweight with the WBU title on the line. Boxing fans are a gloomy bunch, and with good reason.
“What a load of nonsense,” said Gallagher when asked if delaying the bout could spoil it. “Nigel Benn lost to [Michael] Watson, but the fight with [Chris] Eubank still had an edge, didn’t it? If Frampton had a loss then that wouldn’t dampen the appetite. [Arturo] Gatti and [Mickey] Ward had losses when they fought each other. It is just a good fight and it will happen, when it will happen remains to be seen.
“In January, Barry McGuigan turned around and said: ‘We don’t need Quigg, we’re doing our thing’, so I’m surprised by the things that are coming out because Barry sat in the press conference after Martinez and said they’d have the chance to fight [IBF titlist Jonathan] Romero next in May. I don’t know what’s happened. Now he’s having a fight, another fight, then a final eliminator and a world title — Carl’s champion of eliminators at the moment.
“People say it is further away. I don’t. I think it is nearer. Scott’s got a TV company behind him now. Everyone knows the history between Ricky and Frank, so would Scott have got it had he stayed where he had? Hatton Promotions didn’t let Crolla fight [Ricky] Burns for the world title last year. There’s no guarantee it would have been allowed for Scott, either. Billy Joe Saunders is fighting John Ryder. Erick Ochieng is fighting Liam Smith. These fights between Matchroom and Warren fighters are happening.”
Still, the shadow of Guillermo Rigondeaux looms large over the Super bantamweights. The Cuban stylist looks leagues anyone else. He can pick and choose big fights now while discarding as many titles as he wins. It means that any other title-holder in the division will merely be a guest at the foot of Rigondeaux’s table. Quigg, though, has unerring belief, he does not discount the idea of someday netting the dream fight with Rigondeaux, booting him off his throne and taking his place at the head of the division.
“I know it is tough, but I’d go in thinking I could find a way to win,” he said when talk turned to the WBA’s precocious Super champion. “Listen, he’s a phenomenal talent, you don’t do what he did to Nonito Donaire without being something special. But you’ve got to have the mentality of belief as a boxer that you can win any fight you get in to.”
“Look at Herol Graham, he was an amazing fighter, but Marvin [Hagler] was around at that moment and Herol never got the shot to get his recognition,” stated Gallagher. “Kell Brook’s in the same position at welterweight with Mayweather. Scott’s in a division with a top dog who is a top three pound-for-pound fighter, but he’ll move on and we can fight for the regular title. It gives Quigg another year at world title class then you might have the Rigondeaux fight as well. If that opportunity comes then he’ll be ready.”
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