By Terence Dooley
Matchroom's Eddie Hearn intends to launch WBA World Super bantamweight titlist Scott Quigg’s career into the stratosphere during 2015 with a succession of high-profile bouts that could, if made, end the criticism over Quigg’s recent run of opponents.
Quigg, 25, has looked destructive thus far in 2014, scoring stoppage wins over Tshifhiwa Munyai (TKO 2) and Stephane Jamoye (TKO 3), but he still hankers after a domestic dust-up against Carl Frampton, who won the IBF belt by out-pointing Kiko Martinez in Belfast last month.
However, the Quigg versus Frampton fight will not happen straight away. Quigg meets TBA on the undercard of Tony Bellew’s rematch with Nathan Cleverly while Frampton has mandatory business on the horizon with Chris Avalos. The plot was thickened yesterday when Mick Hennessy sent through an offer for Quigg to face Kid Galahad, the Commonwealth and IBF Youth champion at 122lbs.
Although Hearn did not confirm the exact purse offer—rumoured to be in neighbourhood of £400,000, which a nice neighbourhood to be in—he could confirm that an offer had been made to match Bury’s Quigg, 29-0-2 (22), against his 24-year-old Sheffield-based rival, 18-0 (9).
“We received an offer from Kid Galahad yesterday,” revealed Hearn. “We’re fighting on November 22—it’s already been announced—and they asked us to fight on December 6 in Dubai, but, as we’re fighting in November, we can’t make that date. I am open to the fight, and have asked to open negotiations with [Galahad’s promoter] Mick Hennessy for the fight for the early part of next year.”
As for Frampton, Hearn believes that “The Jackal”, 19-0 (13) will fulfill his mandatory at the earliest possible opportunity before entertaining in-depth discussions about a unification fight with Quigg. Although he sounded more optimistic about the fight than he has done in the past.
He said: “It’s almost certain that Frampton will fight Avalos, either in January or February, so we’d be willing to look at Galahad for February or March.”
Returning to the Galahad offer, I asked Hearn if the television situation would be a deal breaker as Quigg fights on Sky and Hennessy deals with Channel 5. “Not really, no,” he said.
“Wherever makes sense for my fighter to fight is where he’ll fight. Obviously, I’d like to make the fight on Sky, Mick would like to make it on Channel 5, and it’s a voluntary defence, but if the money is significantly more to box on Channel 5 then I certainly wouldn’t stand in Quigg’s way of taking that fight.
“We’re defending on the 22nd, then we want to make Frampton as soon as possible. But if we have to wait until May, do we box in February or March? That’s what we’ll have to decide. Then decide if the package, the deal, the venue etc. is right for us to box Galahad before Frampton.”
Quigg has earned comparisons with Manchester’s Ricky “The Hitman” Hatton; Galahad boxes in the world-renowned “Sheffield style” that was developed at the Ingles Wincobank gymnasium, a place that was made famous by the likes of Naseem Hamed, and Junior Witter.
Indeed, one could almost cast Quigg-Galahad as the spiritual son of the Hatton-Witter fight that never took place, only neither man has hit the heights to merit the comparison.
“Yeah, I think you’re talking about different kind of fighters and sides of the profiles, to be honest, and I don’t think the Quigg-Galahad fight is perhaps as big as some people think,” stated Hearn.
“Barry’s a great fighter, but it can be bigger, and probably would be in the Spring/Summer of next year. He’s definitely in the mix, but our attentions are on Frampton and [WBC holder] Leo Santa Cruz.”
Another name has entered the mix, Cuba’s Super World WBA champion Guillermo Rigondeaux, 14-0 (9) is on the radar now. The 34-year-old is by far the division’s best fighter, however he struggles to attract the punters so could be brought over for a fight with Quigg at some point. Both Quigg and Hearn are keen on the contest should the numbers crunch.
“I’ll have to be honest with you, and this will probably shock some people, but I had a meeting with Scott last Saturday and, for the first time in our conversations, Rigondeaux’s name came up—he’s not averse to that fight in 2015.”
He added: “We know how difficult that fight is. If the money is there, then Quigg will have it and we looked into some numbers the other day that suggested it could make commercial sense. It if can be made, he will take that fight, so there’s another one to throw into the mix.”
As for Quigg’s title run, Hearn defended his charge against claims that he is being protected, arguing that his recent run is perfectly acceptable and will lead to bigger challenges.
“Look, the bottom-line is that [Yoandris] Salinas [who Scott drew with in his first defence of the title] was a quality fighter,” he said. “Diego Oscar Silva [W TKO 2] was a little bit of a gimme, but it was four-weeks after that one, and then Munyai was another quality fighter. Then he had a pullout and faced Jamoye, who is not a long-time Super bantamweight, but the way he’s demolishing these guys is impressive. We’ll announce his opponent next week. It is a step up and highly ranked fighter.
“The great thing about Quigg is that he’s staying active while we try to make these fights. Scott doesn’t think: ‘The Frampton fight hasn’t happened so I’ll just go on holiday’, he’s fighting these guys and moving on. But, for 2015, we have Frampton and Cruz as long-term targets, are open to Galahad in the spring and are in talks with Mick for that. Then we’ve also got the Rigondeaux fight for Scott to look at.”
Talks between Hearn and the McGuigans haven’t been smooth in recent times. The two sides haven’t worked together since Frampton left to fight on BoxNation last year. Hearn, though, revealed that they are starting to thrash out the pragmatics of a Frampton-Quigg deal.
“No, we’ve had some talks with Jake and Blaine McGuigan,” he said. “I’m confident that fight will happen in 2015. I believe they’ll fight their mandatory in early January or February, then the Quigg fight will happen in the early summer.”
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