BY CHRIS MCNULTY
CONFIRMATION of Jason Quigley’s future is not expected until next week, but it appears that the Ballybofey man is bound for a professional boxing career in Los Angeles.
The 22-year old Finn Valley ABC clubman is set to make the move into the professional ranks and the World silver medalist’s most likely destination appears to be ‘Tinseltown’, with an alignment to Oscar De La Hoya’s ‘Golden Boy Promotions’ expected to be confirmed by the middle of next week.
While Quigley, along with his father and coach, Conor, have been involved in intense discussions with some of the world’s leading promoters, nothing has been signed and they remain in negotiations. It is believed that although they have significantly whittled down their options, a deal is still some way off being finalised.
Speculation has been rife all week about Quigley’s future, but it could be the middle of next week before any official announcement is forthcoming.
By the 6pm deadline on Tuesday, he had not entered the 2014 National Elite Senior Championships to defend his Irish middleweight title. The Championships get underway tomorrow night at the National Stadium and Quigley’s name is not on the menu.
Although the possibility of the Irish Amateur Boxing Association (IABA) returning to the Quigleys with a lucrative offer to stay in the amateur game was being kept ajar, it seems as if the financial constraints of the Association – which has already bid farewells to John Joe Nevin, Conrad Cummings, Sean Turner and Tommy McCarthy lately – will shut that door.
“The IABA is limited in what it can offer any boxer,” its CEO, Fergal Carruth, has said.
“We’re dependent on the Sports Council and how they can fund the boxers. If the promoters come in with a huge, huge offer, it’s going to be very difficult to keep any amateur unless their Olympic dream outweighs their desire to turn professional.”
Quigley recently joined Katie Taylor, Michael Conlan, Paddy Barnes and Joe Ward on the €40,000-per-annum funding rung of the Irish Sports Council’s ladder, while in late 2013, after winning a World silver medal, he was snapped up by Sky Sports on a three-year scholarship.
Should an unlikely u-turn be made then the Quigley camp hadn’t ruled out appearing with the medical card and entry fee at the National Stadium tomorrow.
However, with the detailed talks now at advanced stages, a move into the professional game is imminent for the Ballybofey ace.
In the amateur game, the possibility of Olympic competition is the obvious draw, but with the next Games not until 2016, the deep-rooted feeling within is that they must strike when the iron is hot – and Quigley is one of the amateur game’s hottest tickets.
Any deal is dependent on a tie-in being enabled for coach Conor Quigley, who recently attained three-star coaching status with the AIBA.
After a year in which he won an Irish senior and European senior title, as well as the World silver medal, Quigley became hot property and, in the wake of his World final defeat by Zhanibek Alimkhanuly in Almaty, serious offers began to flood in.
Bob Arum, from the Top Rank stable in Las Vegas, has been very interested, but the lure of L.A is slightly tipping the Quigley scales.
Amir Khan, Bernard Hopkins and David Haye are among those in the De La Hoya camp, while Englishman Anthony Ogogo is familiar to Quigley – he beat Ogogo in a Multi-Nations final in 2011 in Helsinki.
Quigley would be set to join forces with De La Hoya’s chief boxing advisor, Al Haymon, who was named as the Manager of the Year in 2013 by the Boxing Writers Association of America and who counts Floyd Mayweather Jnr among his clients.
Quigley has trained in professional company before, such as last year when he sparred Nathan Cleverly, the light-heavyweight champion of the world, in Wales. At the time, Conor Quigley remembered being anxious at first. But his anxiety was misguided. “He (Jason) was five rounds up and he came back after the eighth round and hadn’t dropped anything. Because of his style, his footwork and his speed, it was absolutely brilliant.”
Quigley has never made a secret of his professional desires.
Just last month, he told this newspaper: “I wore the Irish vest well and made history in it. I served my country well as an amateur in the vest. I really would like to go and do that without the vest as a professional.”
Now, the bright lights of Tinseltown are set to shine on that dream.