“Chocolate” After Dark
By Steve Kim, MaxBoxing (Nov 3, 2011) Doghouse Boxing (Photo © Miguel Salazar)
Photo: Peter Quillin
So just how familiar is middleweight contender Peter Quillin with Craig McEwan, whom he faces this Saturday night in Cancun, Mexicoas the opening bout on the latest installment of HBO’s “Boxing After Dark”?
Speaking after a workout at the Wild Card Boxing Club last week, he answered, “Well enough that I hit him with a right hand there in that back ring.”  For much of his pro career, McEwan trained at the Wild Card, working with renowned cornerman Freddie Roach. “When they called me for the fight, they were like, ‘The guy that we wanted you to fight has not accepted the fight but we got another guy.’ I said, ‘What’s the guy’s name?’ They said, ‘Craig McEwan.’”
Quillin says that they sparred “probably a total of six rounds.”
He says of McEwan, who's coming off tough knockout loss at the hands of Andy Lee in March, “He's a tough fighter. I can't take anything away from him. And guess what? I'm not expecting him to come spar me the same way he's going to fight me on November 5th.” Trainer Eric Brown, who has worked extensively with Quillin since he came out west and will be in his corner this weekend, believes that their knowledge of McEwan will come in handy. “I think it helps tremendously because we've had enough history with Craig to know what to expect out of him and of course, there will always be some variables in a fight but overall, Craig is Craig. He can't be anything but what he is.”
McEwan was never known for having the most Spartan work ethic while at this gym. Against Lee, after building an early lead, he collapsed late. Brown wants his charge to put the heat on from the very beginning. “Peter's going to have to make the fight for the most part. Peter's going to have to pressure him, go after him and keep the pressure on him all night, break him down over a period of five, six rounds and run him outta gas and that's basically what we're going to have to do. Because Craig is a runner and he's not going to come to Peter and be aggressive. He's going to look to outbox Peter.”
For Quillin, this is a watershed moment, his first appearance on HBO after a career which stalled not-too-long ago is now at that stage where he has yearned to be for so long. He admits to getting a bit antsy the past few years, saying, “Most importantly, it came along and I'm just ready for the opportunity. A lot of fighters, what they do is they lose focus, not having these type of opportunities. I just kept my eyes on the prize, just kept going and kept working.”
2009 was a lost year for Quillin as he battled an injury to his right hand, appendicitis and fractured orbital bone. 
“During the injuries, I got a little discouraged,” he admitted, “but nothing in life is perfect. I worked through those and I sat down on the bench and I thought a lot of things through.”
Around this time, he migrated to Los Angeles from New York and inked a deal with Golden Boy Promotions. Quillin has worked hard to polish his skills. According to Brown, “He's gone from being a very strong, kinda raw guy, to now, he's become a much more polished fighter. Freddie and I have been working hard on developing his boxing skills more, giving him more of a sense of direction when he's in the ring, instead of just being out there winging. He's really coming along strong.”
Quillin says there is no extra pressure to impress on this platform. “No, I'm just going to go up in there and be ‘Kid Chocolate,’ do what I usually, normally do which got me here on HBO,” he said. It would certainly help. Recent history has shown that sometimes just merely winning isn't enough on this stage. Yes, style points matter- ask Vanes Martirosyan, who was expunged from HBO's airwaves after his win over Joe Greene last June- but just getting back on HBO is not the goal.
“Ultimate goal is a world title shot,” said Quillin, who has a record of 25-0 with 19 knockouts. “That's my ultimate goal. HBO is that step. Every time I step out, there is a step up the ladder to the top and HBO is the first step of that.”
At age 28, he's in his physical prime but because of the time lost and the lack of a real strong résumé, he was considered a bit too green and not worthy of facing middleweight champion Sergio Martinez in his last outing.
“What makes me so green?” Quillin asked rhetorically. “I always call for the opportunity. A lot of guys out there don't want to fight me or some things don't make sense. This is a business and I totally understand that. I can look at it as a fighter all the time. ‘I'll fight this guy. I'll fight that guy. I beat up that guy’ - but that doesn't matter. What matters is that they can put on a fight and somebody can make money. I've seen that at this level of my career that that's what it's all about. That's why Sergio Martinez keeps calling out [Manny] Pacquiao and [Floyd] Mayweather because he wants to make big dollars.”
The chance at the middleweight crown on October 1st instead went to Darren Barker and according to Quillin, “[Martinez] got totally exposed as a fighter by a guy that can box, a guy that can make it an inside fight. I think if Darren could've kept it up a little longer and he would've shown a lot of people that Sergio Martinez is not Superman. Nobody is in boxing. I'm not going to sit here and say I'm Superman but Martinez ain't either.”
While many believe that he's isn't quite ready for “Maravilla,” Quillin says, “I would take the fight right away, next week.”
But perhaps facing Martinez down the line is more ideal. Timing is everything in life and perhaps the time is now for Quillin to begin this ascent.
“I think from this point on, we're definitely going to have to step up the opposition,” said Brown. “It's going to be a challenge to get some of the guys at the top of the heap to fight him because he's dangerous and everybody knows it but I think he couldn't be at a better time in his career to step up.”

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