BY CHRIS MCNULTY IN INDIO, CALIFORNIA
JASON Quigley always came to battle well prepared.
During his amateur days, he was regularly hoisted to new levels thanks to the calibre of sparring he was encountering.
Now residing in Los Angeles as a professional boxer with Golden Boy Promotions, the sparring Quigley is receiving have moved his game on even more.
Last week, Quigley sparred at the Rock Gym in Carson – his base nowadays – with Shane Mosley, a former pound-for-pound number 1 and a regular opponent of Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao, who meet on Saturday in Las Vegas for one of the most-hyped fights in boxing history.
Mosley has danced, too, with Oscar De La Hoya and ‘Canelo’ Alvarez. These are the men with whom Quigley now trades the leather.
“Sparring with Shane Mosley was a great experience – it’s given me real confidence,” says Quigley ahead of his meeting with Joshua Snyder at the Fantasy Springs Resort and Casino in Indio, California tonight.
“I’m getting world class sparring and the confidence that brings is unreal. You’re getting in there with guys who have been at the elite level. Getting in there, knowing that you did well with them is amazing. That all stands to you.”
It’s nothing new to the 23-year-old former amateur kingpin.
Go back to 2008 and just before he became the Irish Intermediate Light Welterweight champion, Quigley spent some time in Wales training with Joe Calzaghe and his father, Enzo. At the time, the Calzaghe team were interested in snapping up the young Quigley (he was 17), but he pursued the amateur route until making the move Stateside in 2014.
Quigley’s advancement hit the same roadblock – Darren O’Neill – in the Irish senior middleweight finals of 2010 and 2011.
When Illies Golden Gloves man Willie McLaughlin defeated him in January 2012 in an Irish welterweight quarter-final, the crossroads came to stare the Quigleys, Jason and his father, Conor, in the face.
When Quigley was in Wales in ’08, Nathan Cleverly had been Calzaghe’s training partner. They needed something different after three senior championship heartbreaks in a row and they dialled into Cleverly’s camp.
Sparring with light heavyweight champion of the world, a weight division up from middleweight Quigley, was just what the Donegal puncher needed.
In Bargoed, Vince Cleverly suggested that his man and Quigley try ten rounds.
They settled on five initially, but by the end of eight Quigley’s comfort had the rest of the gym taking note.
There and then, Quigley realised that he could make real waves in boxing’s treacherous ocean.
He says now: “It started off when I started sparring with Nathan Cleverly. My father took me over there to spar Nathan and that really kicked my career. That was one of the turning points in my boxing career.
“You’re going there as an amateur fighter, getting in with a professional world champion…it wouldn’t matter if he was clean useless because he’s a professional world champion!
“What you take from that is unbelievable. I was in there doing ten rounds with Cleverly. He was a weight above me and the confidence I got from that was absolutely amazing. That was a real blessing for me.”
He defeated O’Neill in a quarter-final in 2013 on his way to winning the Irish senior middleweight title, overcoming Roy Sheehan in the final. From there, his career has spiralled at the rate of knots.
A European senior champion and a World silver medalist later that year, Quigley’s name flashed on several radars, most significantly on that of De La Hoya and Golden Boy Promotions.
He’s been busy in his first year as a pro, but his record is unblemished to date.
Howard Reece, Fernando Najera, Greg McCoy, Lanny Dardar and Tolutomi Agunbiade have all been beaten inside the distance by Quigley, who is 5-0 from the opening five bouts of his professional days
He says: “It’s been a whirlwind and everything has gone so fast. It’s going great and it’s brilliant that I’m busy; it means that I’m always in fight mode. I always have a goal coming up and that is key to performing. The more active you are the more on-point the wee small things will be.
“It’s all about looking forward. As a professional I have achieved nothing yet. I’m undefeated and have won the fights. That’s a great achievement, of course, but in my eyes and in terms of my goals of where I want to get I’ve achieved nothing. I need to stay focussed and concentrate on the job at hand – that’s one fight at a time.
“It’s a thing I like, being mentally strong and focussed. I like everything to be right. There are a lot of wee things I do that are just pernickety. I like things done right, especially in the lead up to a fight.”
Quigley has had to slightly alter some aspects of his game in making the transition from amateur to pro. Stationed in the Rock Gym in Carson, Quigley is also schooled in Iron Gym in Santa Monica.
Quigley says: “Getting the ‘w’ is number one, but a big part of professional boxing is about pleasing the fans.
“You need to have people wanting to see you again. Key for me is the performance. I never look for the knockout or for the wars. I don’t want wars and I don’t need wars. I need good performances and need to come out of there fresh, ready to fight again.
“Boxing is a funny sport. You could knock a guy down and you could get knocked out after that. If you get a guy down you have to keep him down.
“You can’t give anyone a second chance in this sport. I’m going into that ring very focussed.
“You have to be in there, focussed and hungry. You’re in there on your own and one shot can not only change a fight – it can change your life.”
Snyder has a journeyman’s tale, but the 35-year-old does represent a step up in class for Quigley. Snyder has a losing record – he’s 9-11-1 from 21 fights – although he brings plenty of experience with him to Fantasy Springs.
Quigley prefers to take care of his own game rather than study the opponents in too much detail.
He’s battle ready again and ready for action in the Colarado Desert.
He says: “If I wasn’t confident I wouldn’t go through the ropes. The reason I am 110 per cent confident is that I know the work I’ve put in. I know the sparring I’ve had, the rounds I’ve done, the runs I’ve done. This is the enjoyable part – putting everything I’ve worked at on show.”
JASON Quigley hopes to fight again later this year, as he continues his recovery from a broken hand.