Peter Quillin (31-0, 22 KOs) will share the ring with Irishmen Andy Lee (34-2, 24 KOs) on Saturday evening, in a bid to regain the WBO world middleweight title that he previously vacated.
It’s nearly a year ago since Quillin made his third and final defense against Lukas Konecny, and many felt he was avoiding his championship obligations after vacating instead of fighting the dangerous Russian, Matt Koborov.
It is however, more complicated then simply ducking an opponent and rejecting a payment of $1.4 million dollars. His first son was born last August, and at the same time his uncle was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, losing his fight just two months ago.
The time he took out to focus on his personal life could inspire a sensational comeback, and invigorate a former champion who believes the belt is rightfully his.
There is also an extra incentive for Lee, who if he triumphs, sets up a domestic dust up with mandatory Billy Joe Saunders. It’s a massive fight back in Britain and will attract a lot of attention if the defense can be made back in Ireland.
It’s stylistically a magnificent matchup, with both fighters possessing tremendous knockout power. In initially winning the belt against Hassan N’Dam in 2012, Quillin sent the Frenchman sprawling to the canvas on six occasions in a brutal beat down. If he can emulate that spiteful performance against Lee, it will go certainly go a distance in hitting back at his critics.
The knockout power of the Irishman is also frightening, and serves as an example of how one punch can change the outcome of a fight. Lee was being outboxed by the slick John Jackson, until a devastating right hand counter off the ropes left Jackson almost lifeless on the canvas.
It was over in a blur, and the Limerick man walked away with both hands in the air knowing that one punch had landed him a shot at the WBO belt.
It’s even more impressive to know he was knocked down in Round 1, so he is no stranger in taking the fight to the trenches, something Quillin has never experienced. His relinquishment meant Lee, took to the ring and defeated Koborov by a Round 6 knockout, a result that few expected.
However, Lee is arguably the weakest of the Middleweight champions, with both Miguel Cotto and Gennady Golovkin the other title holders, suffering two stoppage defeats at the hands of Bryan Vera and Julio Cesar Chavez Jr.
It almost seems a lose-lose situation for Quillin, who even if he comes out holding the belt aloft by the end of the fight, will still be considered the massive underdog going into fights against Cotto and Golovkin.
If the Chicago born man can avoid the explosive right hand of Lee, there is a feeling that he can outmaneuver and outbox him. But considering his list of opponents, it’ll be interesting to see how he manages to deal with the step-up in class. Only then can boxing fans and pundits alike be able to gauge how good Quillin really is.