British star Scott Quigg has endured a turbulent six months, but still remains poised to throw down with some of the biggest names in the junior featherweight division. But first, on Saturday, the talented boxer puncher must defend his regular WBA title against Tshifhiwa Munyai in Manchester, England. (Note: THE RING only recognizes Guillermo Rigondeaux as WBA champion)
“I’m feeling really good at the moment,” said Quigg, who is ranked No. 6 by THE RING at 122 pounds. “Last year I had three fights in a short period of time and, following a break, my team visited the Wild Card (Boxing Club) in L.A. to begin training. I completed 70 rounds of sparring in three weeks and the quality and variety of that work was second to none.
“Since then I’ve been in the gym, practicing and improving as a fighter.”
Last June, Quigg looked sharp blasting out William Prado in three but, four months later, was tested to the full by Cuban danger man Yoandris Salinas. Having been upgraded from “interim” to “regular” champion, before the fight, Quigg retained his WBA strap on a drawn verdict although the vast majority of onlookers felt he did enough to prevail.
An easy knockout of Diego Oscar Silva followed and we fast forward to the present for yet more drama in the world of Scott Quigg. The diligent 25 year old was wrapping up preparations ahead of a bout with Nehomar Cermeno this Saturday night, only for the Venezuelan to withdraw less than two weeks before fight night.
“Cermeno had visa problems of some sort and couldn’t travel to the UK,” said Quigg, with a touch of exasperation. “It was stupid of his camp to leave it so late, and I haven’t got a clue why they did that. If issues came up earlier then they could have been ironed out.
“We’d geared all our sparring towards facing Cermeno and it was pretty much complete by the time the opponent was changed. That said I’m in the best place I could possibly be and the change is irrelevant, because my best beats anyone else’s best.”
Matchroom Promotions scrambled to deliver a replacement and eventually settled on the aforementioned Munyai (24-2-1, 12 knockouts). Known somewhat comically as “The Atomic Spider,” the game South African is a former Commonwealth champion at bantamweight.
“Munyai is a very good opponent,” said Quigg (27-0-2, 20 KOs). “He’s tall and rangy and came over here a few years ago to score wins over Martin Power and Lee Haskins. He’s got all the moves but, with respect, I’m not Power or Haskins and I’ll be doing a job on him.
“I’m 100 percent prepared for whatever Munyai brings, although I’m not expecting an easy night because he’s a tough operator. He’s in the Who Needs Him Club and carries a Top 10 ranking with the WBA, but I’ve trained like never before and will be more than ready for him.”
Looking ahead Quigg has solid opposition on his radar, and predictably the conversation turns to domestic foe, Carl Frampton. The Belfast ace looks set to face WBC titleholder Leo Santa Cruz after recently posting a second-round knockout of former two-weight world champion Hugo Fidel Cazares.
“I didn’t learn anything new,” said Quigg. “Cazares was 36 years old, well past it and a super flyweight, but Carl can only beat what’s put in front of him. I’m focused on my own career at the moment and I’m not thinking about Carl Frampton.
“The fight (versus me) was offered to him and he didn’t take it, for whatever reason. Ultimately he decided to go a different route.”
Despite Quigg’s reluctance, call it professional courtesy, to look past Munyai this reporter felt the need to push the unbeaten star for his future plans and, at the second time of asking, he obliged.
“The fights I want are against world champions like Leo Santa Cruz and Kiko Martinez, or Carl Frampton,” said Quigg, as though stating the obvious. “These are the biggest fights available and they become even bigger when I go out there on Saturday and win in style.
“I want to fight Carl Frampton and he wants to fight me. Froch and Groves aside, it’s the biggest event in British boxing and if you were a fighter and didn’t want that to happen then there would be something seriously wrong with you.
“What fighter doesn’t want to be involved in one of the biggest British fights ever? I just can’t waste time thinking about it right now though, because if I don’t keep winning then it doesn’t happen. I need to focus on what’s in front of me.”
And that is a point well made. So, what does the fighter see ahead of him this weekend?
“I predict a victory and you will see the very best of Scott Quigg. Whether it goes one or 12, Munyai will be getting dealt with.”
British fans can see Scott Quigg vs. Tshifhiwa Munyai live on Sky Sports 2 HD (Channel 402). Tickets are available from www.matchroomboxing.com
Tom Gray is a member of the British Boxing Writers’ Association and has contributed to various publications. Follow him on Twitter: @Tom_Gray_Boxing