A rite of passage for pugilists with a bright future in the sport, Peter Quillin will make his HBO debut on Saturday in Cancun, Mexico – an opportunity Quillin doesn’t take for granted.
What the 28-year-old boxer-puncher deems as “his chance to showcase his talents,” he’ll be facing once-beaten Craig McEwan in the co-feature to the much-anticipated bout between sluggers Alfredo Angulo and James Kirkland. And the Los Angeles-based middleweight prospect promises to steal the show.
“I’m very excited to be on the highest platform in boxing,” said Quillin, a native of Grand Rapids, Mich. “I’m going to show [the public] that I’m meant to be there. I’m looking to cause some destruction in the middleweight division.”
Quillin, known as “Kid Chocolate,” shares the same moniker as Hall of Famer Eligio Montalvo, a homage to his Cuban heritage. It’s a badge he wears with great pride.
“It’s very important because of my Cuban heritage, my dad is 100 percent Cuban,” said Quillin, formerly based out of Brooklyn, N.Y. “I have Cuban blood inside of me. I have a lot of fight in me, so with that being said, it’s very, very important that when I step out there I represent the name ‘Kid Chocolate’ proudly. Not only was he a Cuban fighter, but he was a very dominating fighter. So putting his name on the line stands for a lot of things.”
The undefeated middleweight was slated to step-up to the toughest test of his career this past July, when he was due to fight slick boxer Tarvis Simms. That litmus test fell by the wayside, though, when Simms suffered an untimely rib injury in preparation, leaving Quillin (25-0, 19 knockouts) still searching for that measuring stick.
He’ll finally get that test in McEwan (19-1, 10 KOs), a tough Scottish southpaw Quillin is quite familiar with from their days sparring at Freddie Roach’s Wild Card Boxing Club. Only Quillin doesn’t view McEwan, 29, as the toughest fight of his career, as the public at large does.
“I sparred him a few times and Craig was definitely a fighter that came and put everything on the line,” Quillin said of his opponent. “In terms of him saying he’s going to knock me out, I don’t see it. I promote the fight in terms of respecting other fighters. I step in the ring with them without overlooking them.
“Craig McEwan is on a level I put with Dionisio Miranda who I fought and beat unanimously after being hurt in the seventh round. I put him in that same kind of category as far as fighter. Is he on a level that I’m at? I don’t think so. I’m a fighter that a lot of people don’t give credit to, but given the challenge I will step out and showcase my talent and pass it with flying colors.”
At 6-foot-1, Quillin describes himself as a strong, economical and accurate boxer-puncher, calling himself “a smart fighter, similar to Floyd Mayweather but at the same time that can switch it up and be like [Felix] Trinidad”.
His counterpart this Saturday made his own HBO debut this past March on the Sergio Martinez-Serhiy Dzinziruk card, an entertaining scrap with Andy Lee. McEwan fought on even terms with Lee heading into the 10th and final round, but succumbed to Lee’s pressure in the final stanza, suffering a TKO defeat.
Quillin has often called out THE RING middleweight champion Martinez over the past few months, much to no avail. But with an impressive performance on Saturday, Quillin knows he’ll be in line for the big fights as the calendar moves towards 2012.
“There’s a ton of guys out there that I’d like to fight,” said Quillin. “I would like to fight [IBF titleholder] Daniel Geale. We have [WBA titleholder] Felix Sturm there, [WBO titleholder] Dmitry Pirog. I’m willing to fight those guys. Maybe I can secure a fight with Sergio Martinez. If God-willing it happens, I’m going to step up to the challenge and put my best effort forward to secure victory for myself.
“I’m very humble with this situation. I am a fighter, I’m not Superman. I just know that I work hard. Every fight that I take is a step-up. With this fight Nov. 5 it’s going to set my tone as a fighter to look for in 2012.
If he can impress the many eyes viewing him for the first time, he’ll take another step towards honoring the moniker he so proudly uses.
Mike Coppinger is a regular boxing freelancer for USA TODAY and a contributing writer for The Ring magazine. He’s a member of the Yahoo Sports Boxing Panel, THE RING Ratings Advisory Panel and the Boxing Writers Association of America. Follow him on Twitter: @MikeCoppinger