By Keith Idec
Peter Quillin felt disrespected by Hassan N’Dam N’Jikam during a conference call to promote their fight Saturday night in Brooklyn.
N’Jikam seemed distracted as Quillin spoke, but the middleweight championship challenger nicknamed “Kid Chocolate” promises he’ll get N’Jikam’s attention in their 12-round fight for N’Jikam’s WBO 160-pound crown. The N’Jikam-Quillin clash will be part of Showtime’s four-fight broadcast from Barclays Center, which will host boxing for the first time.
The 29-year-old Quillin (27-0, 20 KOs) is coming off his most noteworthy win, a dominant 10-round unanimous decision defeat of former junior middleweight champ Ronald “Winky” Wright, once a staple on mythical pound-for-pound lists. Quillin even dropped the usually iron-chinned Wright, 40, in the fifth round June 2 in Carson, Calif.
Despite Wright’s age, that convincing victory increased Quillin’s confidence following wins mostly against B-level and C-level opposition during his seven-year pro career.
“I would be nervous if I cheated, but I never cheated in this camp,” Quillin said. “I had one of the best camps ever in this camp. What I had to do was put the time in because this is my moment right here. This is my test. This is my challenge and I have to have no doubts about myself, my skills, going into this ring Oct. 20 to win my title. This is my title.
“This is a showcase for me, ‘Kid Chocolate.’ This is not about Hassan. As you can tell, he’s on the phone talking and being a little disrespectful. But to be a champion, you have to be very respectful. And I’m respectful of the champ, but come Oct. 20 all the respect is gone.”
The 28-year-old N’Jikam, a Cameroon Olympian who resides in France, won the WBO’s interim middleweight title in his last fight, a unanimous decision victory over Ukraine’s Max Bursak (25-1-1, 11 KOs) in a 12-rounder May 4 in Levallois-Perret, France, near Paris. N’Jikam won that bout by large margins on all three scorecards (118-110, 118-110, 118-111).
He previously out-boxed heavy-handed Dominican Giovanni Lorenzo (31-5, 23 KOs), another contender from New York, rather easily (119-109, 119-110, 116-110) in a 12-round fight for the WBA interim middleweight title. This marks Quillin’s first world title fight.
“Of course, I have big respect [for Quillin],” N’Jikam said. “I respect all the opponents that I fight. But I’m undefeated and I will stay undefeated Oct. 20.”
Quillin — a Grand Rapids, Mich., native who resided in New York before relocating to the Los Angeles area to train at Freddie Roach’s Wild Card Gym — views his fight Saturday night as a homecoming because he has a fan base in New York that strongly supported his ascent as a prospect.
“I will carry the name of a ring legend, which was ‘Kid Chocolate,’ [who] was originally from Cuba, who transported himself to New York City and became one of the biggest draws in New York City,” Quillin said, referring to the late Eligio Sardinas Montalvo, a former junior lightweight and lightweight world champion. “I’ve done made myself a big name in New York and I’m working very, very hard. And being part of this historic event is a blessing in disguise. I’m now all about working on my name and my legacy in boxing, so yes, I would say making myself a champion in Brooklyn is my first start to that.”
He doesn’t feel any added pressure to perform, however, just because his fight will part of the inaugural boxing card at Barclays Center, the brand-new home of the NBA’s Nets.
“There’s no pressure at all,” Quillin said. “Pressure only busts pipes and that’s never busted my pipes. I’m 27-0, with 20 knockouts. I’m very blessed with that. This fight right here is going dignify me as the champion I wanted to be.”
Keith Idec covers boxing for The Record and Herald News, of Woodland Park, N.J., and BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.