by David P. Greisman
Daniel Jacobs and Peter Quillin have crossed paths over the years. They are, after all, two fighters who came out of the New York City borough of Brooklyn and who are signed with boxing adviser Al Haymon.
“I’ve been very casual with him outside of the ring. There’s always love,” said Quillin. “We’re friends. I know a lot about him. He know a lot about me”
“We’re cool,” said Jacobs. “We can contact each other at any given point. There’s no hate. There’s no love lost. It’s all respect at the end of the day.”
But Jacobs and Quillin have also been on a collision course as two middleweights who, it was thought, would someday headline together at Barclays Center in a fight to decide which one of them is better. That fight is finally happening and will be the main event in that arena on a Dec. 5 card airing on Showtime.
Any friendship doesn’t matter for now, according to Jacobs.
“All that matters is that we’re going to give the fans something that they’re looking forward to,” he said on a Nov. 12 media conference call. “Our relationship is what it is outside the ring and it will continue to be that way, win, lose or draw. I respect him and I respect his family. There’s nothing but love at the end of the day. But right now that means nothing because we’re fighting for our legacy. We’re fighting for our pride, our careers and our livelihood.”
They’ve shared a ring once together before, sparring for about four or five rounds back when Jacobs was 18 or 19, he said. That would’ve been a decade ago.
In the years since, Jacobs went from being a touted middleweight prospect to challenging for a world title but suffering a crushing knockout loss to Dmitry Pirog in 2010. And soon came a cancer diagnosis that threatened his life, and even if he survived there was a strong chance his career would be over. He lived, recovered and returned in 2012, rattling off eight wins since then. His last victory came in August against Sergio Mora, moving his record to 30-1 with 27 KOs.
Jacobs says he’s been calling for a bout with Quillin for about two years, while Quillin says his attention has tended to be elsewhere.
“I focus on guys when it’s time to get paid to fight them,” he said.
Quillin won a middleweight world title in 2012 and made three defenses before vacating the belt in 2014 instead of facing Matt Korobov. This year he’s fought to a draw with Andy Lee and then overwhelmed Michael Zerafa, moving to 32-0-1with 23 KOs.
There’s plenty on the line for each, and that’s why Jacobs says people shouldn’t expect a bout between two friends to turn into a less than thrilling sparring match.
“We’re in the hurt business. We’re insider the ring to hurt one another,” he said. “There’s no love. When you think about it, the more I hurt this man and the more he tries to hurt me, the better our career will be. When you think about that, it’s a no-brainer. We’re not in there to play. This is not a play business. We’re in there to hurt each other. We’re in there to do the best we can do to make sure our legacy and our career is on the up-and-up afterwards.”
Pick up a copy of David’s book, “Fighting Words: The Heart and Heartbreak of Boxing,” at http://bit.ly/fightingwordsamazon or internationally at http://bit.ly/fightingwordsworldwide. Send questions/comments via email at [email protected]