BY CHRIS MCNULTY AT THE STUBHUB CENTER, CARSON
JASON Quigley continues to catch the eye – of opponents and onlookers – as the Ballybofey man starred again in his victory over stubborn Mexican Fernando Najera in the StubHub Center, Carson, California on Saturday evening.
Quigley pummeled the 27-year-old Tijuana taxi driver with a punishing array of shots.
At the end of the third round of a contest scheduled for four Najera had had enough and his corner informed the referee, Roy Corona, that their man was finally giving up.
By quirk of a change to the running order Quigley found himself as the last bout to precede a trio of world title bouts won by Omar Figueroa (WBC Lightweight), Anthony Dirrell (WBC Super Middleweight) and the headline IBF Welterweight bout taken by Kell Brook against Shawn Porter.
In only his second professional fight, Quigley – having knocked Howard Reece for six just 82 seconds into his pro debut last month in Las Vegas – displayed the vast array of skill in his locker against Najera.
With a record of 1-3 from his four fights, including two knockouts, Najera’s record wasn’t all that impressive, although he came in on a high following a win over American Jonathan Jackson two weeks ago, while he went the distance with former Olympic bronze medalist Yamaguchi Falcao only to lose on points back in April.
On Saturday, in the piercing heat of the StubHub’s arena, Najera had no answer to Quigley’s weaponry, Quigley making his man wince with a whopping 98 shots connecting in the three rounds.
By the end, his bright yellow mouthpiece was barely between his teeth following some grueling blows from Quigley, from whom there was a performance that shows just why Oscar De La Hoya, Golden Boy Promotions’ President, rates him so highly.
Najera was gasping by the close of the second round and it was only a matter of how long it would go.
When he sat on the stool at the end of three, he could take no more. To his credit, the Mexican was game to the last, but two crushing right handers from Quigley’s gun opened him over the left eye and his corner called it a day.
“I’m absolutely delighted,” Quigley told the Donegal News.
“It was a brilliant venue again and another great card to be under. To come away with a TKO victory was a great night.
“He took some heavy shots. I just had to be careful that I didn’t out punch myself and get tired. I was picking my shots well and the right hand was working lovely. That opened a brave cut over his eye.
“Everything went to plan. The first round was about getting in there, getting used to it and, coming near the end of the second, I felt really comfortable and the shots were flowing out nicely.
“It took a wee bit of time to settle, but after that I started using my jab to set up my back hand. It was setting everything up for me. I felt really relaxed and comfortable in there.”
Quigley learned of Najera’s opposition late in the day while the change to the fight schedule saw the Ballybofey man have to get re-psyched for the bout. For the former Irish amateur ace it was a night of great experience, particularly in getting the three rounds under his wing.
“If you can take these guys out early you’ll do it, but, it’s great to get a few rounds under the belt,” said Quigley.
“I’ve put in all the hard work in the gym and in sparring. I’ll be ready for six rounds, eight rounds, ten rounds and twelve rounds when they come. I’m always 110 per cent ready and focussed to go the distance at any time.”
With his father and coach Conor urging him to keep the contest at his own pace rather than ‘going a hundred miles an hour’, Quigley settled into his stride and a few belting jabs in the opening round laid down the marker.
Pre-fight, Quigley said that he never worries too much about the opponent, so the late confirmation of Najera’s participation hadn’t been unsettling. ‘I let them worry about me,’ he mentioned at the Thursday press conference.
Najera will certainly remember the name Quigley after this. Quigley’s third round showed all that is good about those powerful paws.
He said of his cracking finale: “It was the jab that helped to open him up. I was a lot faster than him. The back hand landed every time I threw it. I caught him with a nice right hand and, right away after it, I caught him with another one. It’s always good to know some of the shots can do damage.”
By the time he took to the ring – making his walk to the sounds of Rory Gallagher’s ‘Make Way For The Fighting Irish’ – the StubHub was filling up rapidly in anticipation of the three World title bouts.
Quigley said: “This is another reason that we’re our here – to get used to these thing. You’re on ShoTime TV, one of the biggest channels, and you’re in the changing rooms warming up with world champion. The experience is unbelievable.
“It was all a part of learning and dealing with things like that. It’s great to do that and go in there to come out with a ‘W’ again.”
With ShoBox Extreme screening the fight, Quigley’s supporters back in Donegal were able to view his fight live on the internet and the likes of Barca Bar and McGuigan’s were said to have been rocking as Quigley got to work on Najera.
He said: “It’s amazing. I can’t say enough how much the support back home means to me. I’m a long way from home so to know that the people back there are 110% behind me is massive. Hopefully I can keep racking up those ‘w’s.”
De La Hoya is keen to move Quigley fast and the Finn Valley ABC ace can expect another fight this side of Christmas. His star is on the move again and appears to be gaining quite a few followers Stateside if Saturday’s experience is anything to go by.
Just ask the granite-jawed Najera.