This weekend at the O2 Arena in London, a capacity crowd will be on hand for a show which is bursting with high-quality action, and fans who bought a ticket have picked up one mouth-watering main attraction.
Scott Quigg, THE RING’s No. 5 at 122 pounds, was to have faced Yoandris Salinas on Sept. 28 in a battle of unbeaten thoroughbreds on the undercard of the ill-fated heavyweight duel between David Haye and Tyson Fury, before fate intervened.
Haye was cut over the eye, the show was postponed and Quigg, after months of preparation, was left in deep despair.
Thankfully, within hours, Eddie Hearn’s Matchroom Promotions had jumped to Quigg’s aid and moved the bout with Salinas from Manchester to London, where the British star will now headline. A one-week delay? The relief for fighter, and celebrated trainer Joe Gallagher, was palpable.
Quigg, a terrific talent, switched from Hatton Promotions to Matchroom this year and has been given the exposure that only Sky Sports can provide in the U.K. Salinas, a Cuban defector, has had 21 straight wins but, unlike his opponent, remains relatively undistinguished.
Still, Quigg is a student of the game and acutely aware of the threat posed by Salinas, who was a celebrated amateur before he began slicing and dicing as a pro. The Bolton, England, product is finely tuned and eager to break out from the pack against a quality operator at his peak.
RingTV.com spoke to Quigg (26-0-1, 19 knockouts) about preparation for Salinas and the star-studded 122-pound division.
Ring TV: How has training been in the run up to the fight? Who have you been sparring and how would you rate your overall conditioning?
Scott Quigg: It’s cliché to say you’re in the shape of your life, but hand on heart this is the best I’ve ever been. From a physical, mental and tactical standpoint I couldn’t be any better and there will be no excuses on the night. We’ve prepared perfectly in the gym and that is supported by my level of performance in sparring. My ability has improved and everything is now geared towards peaking on fight night. We’ve completed sparring with Jamie McDonnell (IBF bantamweight champion) who has a great jab and a good right hand, which looks to be a favorite shot for Salinas. We brought in Samir Mouneimne, who has a win over Lee Selby, because of his unpredictability and his awkwardness. Salinas gives you different looks so I need to be ready for anything and I must be defensively alert.
RTV: I’ve had a look at Yoandris Salinas and he can do a bit of everything. He can box, counterpunch, defends well and has a dangerous-looking right hand. What weaknesses have you detected?
SQ: We know this is a very tough fight but I relish the challenge and I’m 100 percent confident. Without going into detail, there are openings; he does make mistakes and we will capitalize on them. I watch my own fights and see errors but I’m always correcting those. We know what Salinas is good at it but I’m more concerned about what I have to do on the night.
RTV: What does Scott Quigg possess that will give Salinas the first loss of his professional career?
SQ: My boxing brain. People don’t appreciate the way I can think in the ring. The pressure I can put on an opponent physically drains them because they’re not used to it and from what I’ve seen of Salinas he always likes to be in control of the pace. I don’t think he’s fought someone who can think on the same level and be every bit as cute as he can be.
RTV: What are your thoughts on Leo Santa Cruz, who made his debut at 122 pounds by dethroning Victor Terrazas?
SQ: Santa Cruz is a good fighter and has a very fan-friendly style. I was expecting him to beat Terrazas in six or seven rounds but he got rid of him very early (Round 3). I rate Santa Cruz and he’s someone I would like to test myself against because I want to fight the best. He’s making waves and is undoubtedly one of the best in the division, although I won’t overlook what’s in front of me. A lot of people haven’t heard of Yoandris Salinas but he is one of the hardest fights available at 122 pounds. This guy has had over 300 wins as an amateur and he’s undefeated as a pro. That speaks for itself.
RTV: What about Kiko Martinez taking down IBF champion Jhonatan Romero? It’s been a complete changing of the guard in recent weeks, hasn’t it?
SQ: Definitely. That was a shock result but styles make fights. When Carl Frampton fought Kiko he stayed away from the ropes but Romero allowed himself to be backed up. Kiko would let his hands go and maybe miss the first three shots but the fourth and fifth would land because Romero was stationary. It was mistakes that cost Romero his title and I don’t think he recovered after being hurt badly in the first round.
RTV: Are these guys on your radar if you come through against Salinas?
SQ: For sure, but I’m a person who takes one fight at a time and I don’t look past anyone. This is a very tough fight with Salinas but ultimately these are the types of fights you want to be involved in. The fans want to see these matchups.
RTV: The atmosphere will be electric at the O2 Arena with so many British stars making an appearance. How will that feel?
SQ: I’ll be walking out in front of all those fans and everyone will be buzzing. It gives me goosebumps just thinking about it but I’m relishing the occasion and it will make me perform.
RTV: What is your prediction for Oct. 5?
SQ: All I know is that I’ll find a way to win. No matter how hard the fight, no matter what I have to go through, I’ll find a way. That is what winners do.
The card also features a pair of Olympic gold medalists in Anthony Joshua and Luke Campbell, as well as two other fighters who are rated in The RING top ten of their respective divisions; Lee Selby (featherweight) and Kevin Mitchell (lightweight).
Photos by Scott Heavey-Gettyimages
Tom Gray is a member of the British Boxing Writers’ Association and has contributed to various publications. Follow him on Twitter: @Tom_Gray_Boxing