By Frank Craig
Jason Quigley was handed a first professional defeat in the early hours of this morning in California when veteran Tureano Johnston upset the odds against the Donegal man.
With his NABF belt on the line, Quigley managed to take the first two rounds. But following that, it was mostly punishing one-way traffic.
And having got back to his corner after round nine, Quigley’s team made the sensible decision to pull their man at the Fantasy Springs Resort and Casino arena.
The Ballybofey fighter had been determined to muscle in on the middleweight world title mix and a polished performance against Johnston was viewed as a significant step on that journey.
Johnston opened with the intent of pressing the pre-fight favourite and not allowing him to settle into any kind of rhythm. However, the patient Donegal man did enough to take that first round.
Switching between stances, Quigley looked to slip inside in round two as his 35-year-old opponent from the Bahamas continued to attempt to land with power. Again, Quigley slipped smartly and took the round.
Johnston though did get on top in round three and landed with a strong right upper cut with Quigley stubbornly prepared to stay in the pocket and trade.
Round four opened with more of the same with the experienced Johnston remaining a handful and Quigley still willing to swing with him.
Throwing with power and volume, Johnston continued to set the tempo in round five. Quigley, still sucked in, needed to get back to the outside and rely on his undoubted craft.
But this was now a battle of attrition and stamina. And fierce combinations, led with two landing left hands from Johnston, had Quigley in real trouble.
Quigley, looking tired and extremely vulnerable at this stage, needed to find a second wind or this fight was in danger of slipping away from him.
However, round seven was again all Johnston. And worryingly from a Donegal point of view, he continued to beat up and dominate the Irishman.
Despite Quigley’s brave efforts, Johnston was now looking to finish the fight. More big punches were landed early on in the ninth. But with confidence up, he was also finding the mark with fast combinations and real energy.
It took some time but a stinging body shot did eventually lower Quigley. The bell signalled and his corner did the right thing and pulled their man on his stool.
It brought a safe end to what was a really disappointing night for Quigley. It was soured further by the lack of class and sportsmanship displayed by the winner when he was interviewed mid ring.