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Chris McNulty: A Letter from Los Angeles

Jason Quigley sends Joshua Snyder hurtling to the canvas at Fantasy Springs.

Jason Quigley sends Joshua Snyder hurtling to the canvas at Fantasy Springs.

FROM CHRIS MCNULTY IN CALIFORNIA

IT WAS only upon leaving the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel that we learned that our residence had been ‘haunted’.

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Located on Hollywood Boulevard, the legendary Walk of Fame if you like, the Roosevelt isn’t haunted by your typical ghoul.

No, sir, Rachel Charles, our chauffeur for the morning, tells us, the Roosevelt is spooked by no less than Marilyn Monroe – amongst others!

A sense of déjà vu comes over us, my traveling partner Peter O’Donnell and I.

Could have sworn I’d seen that iconic image somewhere since our touchdown on Monday afternoon…or was that Monday evening (the jet lag that comes with a ten-hour flight and an eight-hour time difference perhaps explains the scrambled mind)?

No, it definitely wasn’t a hallucination. It’s unmistakable: that image from The Seven Year Itch, Monroe in the white cocktail dress, alongside Tom Ewell at a Subway Station in Manhattan.

Charles’ story of Munroe’s spooky appearance in a mirror in the Roosevelt – where she resided for two years after her modelling career rocketed – sends a chill down the spine.

A few moments later, we’re pulling back onto Hollywood Boulevard and the shivers cease when it dawns upon the passengers that we hadn’t been dreaming – nor, in face, had we been visited by the ghost of Munroe.

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There, amid the neon lights, the flashing signs and the world famous landmarks – the Dolby Theatre, the Capitol Records Tower, the TCL Chinese Theatre or the Hollywood and Highland Shopping Centre – stands before us the ‘visitation’.

Tucked next to the bustling, heaving Hard Rock Café is the three storey Madame Tussauds wax museum.

This week’s attraction (read ‘tourist gimmick’), is the location of their figure of Monroe outside, on the Boulevard with passers by afforded (if they can afford it) the chance to have their picture taken with ‘MM’.

The beads of sweat subside as the realisation sets in that we’d not been haunted by Monroe, Montgomery Clift or Errol Flynn, who have apparently ‘appeared’ to guests in the hotel over the years.

It isn’t long, though, before the beads of sweat appear on the brow again – and it’s nothing to do with Rachel’s navigation, either!

We’re on the freeway on the way through the Palm Desert, heading west from Los Angeles towards, Indio, a city located in the Coachella Valley area of the Colarado Desert.

By midday the mercury is touching 40 degrees on the thermometer.

It is here, in the ‘hub of the valley’, that Ballybofey man Jason Quigley is readying himself for the sixth bout of his professional boxing career; a contest against the experienced Joshua Snyder, a 35-year-old with a 9-11-1 record.

The unbeaten Quigley, who has five wins from five after a year in the pro’ ranks following his signing with Golden Boy Promotions, has come to town to do his thing in the piercing, sweltering heat.

Last month, he recorded win number five when he defeated Tolutomi Agunbiade and he’s back at the same venue – the Fantasy Springs Resort and Casino, a Native American owned establishment, possessed by the Cabazon Band of Mission Indians.

Quigley has a few natives of his own checking in for fight night. His girlfriend, April McManus, landed on Sunday; Ballybofey men Kevin Gillespie and Derek McGroarty are flying in from Australia; Aoife McGee is touching in from Boston with fiancé Shane Keaveney; a crew from Killybegs and Burtonport have made contact to confirm their impending arrival; while Donegal Boxing Board President O’Donnell and this correspondent rode into town at the beginning of the week.

Quigley has a world-class team around him. Charles is a publicist with Sheer Sports Management, to whom Quigley is aligned.

Birmingham born, she has been cradled in California since moving to America’s east coast in 1990. Previously having worked with Wayne McCullough, her passion for boxing and her thirst for the sport are insatiable.

Quigley is in good hands for sure.

For the former European champion and World silver medalist, the fight comes a week on from the one-year anniversary of his signing a contract with Oscar De La Hoya’s Golden Boy stable.

Since making a stunning debut at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas – one of the world’s best known boxing venues – when he defeated Howard Reece last July, Quigley has moved up the ladder and his bout against Snyder was the television opener on Fox Sports last night.

“It’s been a whirlwind and everything has gone so fast,” he says.

“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.”

All through his ground-breaking amateur days, it was the same – one step at a time, all in the hope of one day reaching the top of the ladder.

“Boxing is a funny sport,” he says.

“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’re in there on your own and one shot can not only change a fight – it can change your life.”

The aim was, again, to get Snyder out of the way and move onto his next challenge.

Already, Reece, Fernando Najera, Greg McCoy, Lanny Dardar and Agunbiade had already felt like those guests of the Hollywood Roosevelt and been haunted – by the memory of the vicious sting of Quigley’s paws.

The Ballybofey man exudes confidence – and why wouldn’t he?

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.”

There is not even a flicker of worry coming across the table.

It brings to mind an old quote from Monroe: ‘Fear is stupid – so are regrets.’

Defeats, although they’ve been rare, have haunted him in the past – now he’s the man who wants to play the ghost buster.

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