By Jake Donovan
It’s a rare occasion when two fighters managed by the same fighter step foot in the ring against one another. Most notably, Al Haymon makes it a point to never match his fighters against one another.
A rare exception comes on April 27, when unbeaten middleweight titlist Peter Quillin takes on Fernando Guerrero at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York. Given the pre-fight tension between the two, you wonder if the music and boxing mogul will reconsider his stance on the subject.
The fight is less than four weeks away, but the fighters have already let the verbal punches fly. A conference call to hype up the Showtime-televised co-feature (Danny Garcia faces Zab Judah in the main event) began civil enough, but didn’t take long to reach a boiling point.
Quillin makes the first defense of the title he acquired in the very same Brooklyn venue, where he dropped Hassan N’Dam N’Jikam six times en route to a competitive decision win last October. His last three fights have aired on HBO and Showtime, beginning with a 5th round stoppage win over Craig McEwan in Nov. 2011.
Guerrero, a Dominican southpaw based out of Salisbury, Maryland, makes his New York City debut. The majority of his career has been spent on the second-tier circuit, appearing on ESPN2, Showtime’s Shobox series as well as ShoExtreme, and the network formerly known as Telefutura.
Given their experience, Quillin (28-0, 20KO) likens the matchup to a game of cat and mouse – and has a theory on who will play what role and how it will ultimately play out.
"The only thing that a mouse do when f***in’ running from a cat is that when he runs into his hole, he's mad that he ran from the cat,” explained Quillin, obviously portraying himself as the cat and Guerrero (25-1, 19KO) coming out to play on a larger stage than normally experienced. "When he comes back out of the hole, and he decides that he wants to fight the cat, and be able to put up a fight, and he finds out that it's a fight that he can't win, then he runs back into the hole."
Guerrero recognizes the fight as a considerable step up in class and spotlight, but isn’t at all fazed by the upgrade in either department. The southpaw has won four straight since a shocking knockout loss to Grady Brewer nearly two years ago.
While admitting that getting over the loss was “the hardest thing in my life,” the 26-year old witnessed the community he truly serves and that he’s never alone when in the ring.
“I’m the type of person that, it’s all about the crowd,” Guerrero insists, serving as a huge draw in his adopted hometown of Salisbury, MD. “As an amateur, I had 9,000-10,000 people surrounding me. Being a Dominican and in Salisbury, I was the only one. In my hometown, I was the one that made it. When I was low, it crushed me that I let a lot of people down.
“They didn’t care about that. They only wanted me to keep pushing and being the person that I am. I’ve never been the type of person that lived in the street. Boxing was something that I was just kind of good at and would emerge. But it’s not everything. My ‘everything’ is the people. It’s the youth. When I did the clinics and the camps, that’s my everything.”
Quillin respects the sentiment, but believes that his challenger doesn’t have his priorities straight. It’s the difference, he theorizes, between being a champ and chasing after one.
“I feel very, very good. I’m in a place in my life where I’m physically and mentally strong. I don’t take anything away from what Fernando is doing for his country. It’s great that he represents the Dominican Republic and fights for the people. But at the same time, I’m doing what I’m doing. I’m a Cuban-American and doing it for Cuba.
“It ain’t about the fans. To be able to do it for your fans, you have to do it for yourself. Me doing this, it’s for Cuba and my father who came over with a pair of pants but no shoes. Whatever you’re doing, you’re fighting for the wrong reasons.”
The earlier comments hit home just enough for the normally soft-spoken Guerrero to take the conversation to another level, questioning his opponent’s sincerity and insisting that his opponent has “probably never even been to Cuba. All you have is the stories you’ve heard your father tell.”
Not the response that the defending titlist cared to hear.
"I have been to Cuba,” Quillin shot back. “I witnessed my family living in the same house that my father lived in for over 32 years. I've been to the Dominican Republic. I've been to China. I've been everywhere. The thing about me is that I do this for myself and for nobody else.
“So once I step in there, on April 27, the only thing that Fernando Guerrero is going to be able to do is to be a mouse and run back into that hole, because I'm going to be a cat on his ass.”
Jake Donovan is the Managing Editor of Boxingscene.com, as well as a member of Transnational Boxing Ratings Board, Yahoo Boxing Ratings Panel and the Boxing Writers Association of America. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox