- Michael Woods, Boxing
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Confession: My thoughts on Peter "Kid Chocolate" Quillin's chances in his title defense against Fernando Guerrero were impacted by his difficulty making 160 pounds on the day before the fight. Quillin was 1 1/2 pounds over and I really wondered if he was even going to bother trying to carve off that weight in a scant hour, which was granted to him by the NY State Athletic Commission. He waved to photogs, posed, did an interview with Steve Farhood for Showtime and I truly thought he was willing to give up his WBO title on the scale. But the 29-year-old surprised me, to the upside, when he came back in a hour, and made 160. But, I wondered, would this process take something out of him, leave an opening for the Marylander Fernando Guerrero? That question was answered at Barclays, when Quillin showed himself to be an immensely strong middleweight as he whacked the challenger around until the fight was stopped in Round 7.
After the weigh in, Quillin told me he was still getting used to a new eating regimen, put together by new strength and conditioning coach Rob Garcia, who used to work with Oscar De La Hoya. I chatted with Garcia at Gleason's a few days before the faceoff and noticed that he had the press cred for the Pacquiao-De La Hoya fight on his gym bag. Why? Because, he said, he keeps it around to remind himself to keep control, as best he can, of what he can. "That was a nightmarish night as a coach," Garcia told me. That's because De La Hoya worked with trainer Nacho Beristain for the first time, and was over-worked by the trainer, Garcia told me.
Garcia said he was actually picked to work with Manny Pacquiao before his last fight with Juan Manuel Marquez, but on again-off again strength and conditioning coach Alex Ariza hopped back on board Team Pacquiao instead. Garcia bonded with Quillin, who like Pacquiao trains at Freddie Roach's Wild Card in California. He stuck with Quillin and blew off an opportunity, he said, to work with son of the legend Julio Cesar Chavez Jr., because his dad Ed Garcia sensed that Junior wasn't ready to focus fully on training.
Garcia and I chatted about the use of illegal PEDs in boxing, among other subjects. He said his guys are clean. "If you use illegals, you might rely too much on your strength in fights, instead of your intelligence," he said. Garcia said he has Quillin off all supplements and just eating organic foods.
This is the second fight Garcia has been with Quillin and the boxer has exhibited a noticeable bump in power; he dropped Hassan N'Dam N'Jikam to win the belt last October, and Guerrero twice in the second and seventh. Garcia told me that he only wants to work with coachable people and that he sees similarities in De La Hoya and Quillin. "They both work really hard and came from nothing," he said.
With many sensing Sergio Martinez nearing the end of the line, people are adjusting their view of the middleweight division; Quillin is on the rise and that leaves me that much more curious what is the next challenge for him.