- Dan Rafael, Boxing
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Middleweight contender "Kid Chocolate" Peter Quillin, who only had 15 amateur bouts, now will fight for a world title.
Quillin will challenge titleholder Hassan N'Dam N'Jikam of France on Oct. 20, at the new Barclays Center in Brooklyn, N.Y., in the opening fight of a Showtime-televised card featuring three world title bouts.
"Every fighter's dream is to fight for a world championship and to become a world champion, but the journey to get there is also important, and I've been through a lot of stuff to be where I am right now, so this opportunity is from God," Quillin told ESPN.com on Wednesday. "I'll train hard to go out there and win and take victory. I want to be a world champion. This will tell people a lot about me. I want to be a people's champion and inspire people along the way."
The main event previously had been announced. It will feature unified junior welterweight titlist Danny Garcia (24-0, 15 KOs) of Philadelphia in a rematch against former titleholder Erik Morales (52-8, 36 KOs) of Mexico, and Brooklyn welterweight titleholder Paulie Malignaggi (31-4, 7 KOs) making his first defense against Mexico's Pablo Cesar Cano (25-1-1, 19 KOs).
A news conference is scheduled for Thursday in Brooklyn to announce the full "Brooklyn Pride" card, including Quillin's fight. The show will be the first boxing event at the Barclays Center, the new home of the NBA's Brooklyn Nets.
Golden Boy Promotions has stacked the Oct. 20 card with several New York fighters, including Malignaggi, Quillin (who is from Grand Rapids, Mich., but spent several years living in Brooklyn and now resides in Manhattan), former welterweight titlist Luis Collazo, former junior welterweight title challenger Dmitriy Salita, 2009 ESPN.com prospect of the year Daniel Jacobs (a middleweight who has been out of action since March 2011 because of a bout with cancer), and junior middleweight prospect Eddie Gomez.
The 29-year-old Quillin (27-0, 20 KOs) knew he would be on the card but didn't know until the past couple of days it would be a world title shot.
"I'm very excited to have an opportunity to fight for a title," he said. "But with the fights I've been having and how I've been looking, it was only a matter of time until I got this opportunity. It's really very emotional for me. This (boxing) fell in my lap, and I became good at it."
N'Jikam (27-0, 17 KOs), 28, will be making his American debut. All but three of his fights have come in France, with two others in Luxembourg and one in Morocco. He won an interim title in October 2010 by outpointing Avtandil Khurtsidze and made two defenses, including a decision win against fringe contender Giovanni Lorenzo of New York.
But when full titlist Dmitriy Pirog recently was stripped of the belt because he declined to make a mandatory defense in favor or a more lucrative fight, and then suffered a serious back injury that will keep him idle for several months, N'Jikam was elevated to a full titlist.
"I'm the kind of fighter that knows a lot about a lot of other fighters out there, so I knew this guy was an interim champion for a while and one of the names I kept my eye on," Quillin said. "He's a great boxer, but people want to see explosive fights, and that is what I want to give them. That is what I will try to go out there and do. I will try to outclass him and make it look good for the fans. This (Brooklyn) is one of my hometowns, so I feel at home here. Brooklyn is a part of me and I want to perform for the people.
"This is the kind of fight I'm excited about. Now all I gotta do is worry about being in the best shape of my life and I'll be prepared for anybody in the world. I think anyone can be knocked out when they get punched -- even I could get knocked out. But I train to make sure that doesn't happen and so I can deliver the pain and agony and so I can destroy my opponent."
This will be Quillin's first scheduled 12-round fight. He has scored one 10th-round knockout and has gone the 10-round distance four times, including in the most significant fight of his career, a lopsided decision June 2 against former undisputed junior middleweight champion and probable Hall of Famer Winky Wright, who later announced his retirement.
"Twelve rounds? No problem," Quillin said. "What's two more rounds? I train for a long, hard fight."
Middleweight contender "Kid Chocolate" Peter Quillin will challenge titleholder Hassan N'Dam N'Jikam of France on Oct. 20, at the new Barclays Center in Brooklyn, N.Y.