Irish Amateur Jason Quigley makes his L.A. Matadors Debut
By Gabriel Montoya, MaxBoxing (Dec 12, 2011) Doghouse Boxing
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Nestled in between the Barnesmore Mountains and Donegal Bay lies the picturesque town of Donegal, Ireland; a historic town dating back to the 1100’s. Its major industries are hand-woven tweed, carpet making and tourism. Among popular sports, soccer Gaelic Football and hurling top the favorites’ list. It is from this ancient town in the North of Ireland, from a region known as Finn Valley, that a young fighter taught by his father has ventured to the United States in attempt to make his mark in the world of professional boxing. 20 year old Jason Quigley, a standout amateur boxer with a 120-20 record has his eye on the 2012 London Games. But before he gets to his Olympic qualifier, Quigley has decided to take a tough fight detour by joining the World Series of Boxing and signing on with the Los Angeles Matadors.

“I was training in Ireland,” Quigley told me after their season opener in early December. “I have my National Championships and Qualifiers for the Olympics coming up after Christmas. I thought it was great to come over and get a few fights, five three minute rounds, couple of tough fights because it's going to be tough over here. Great preparation. I figured why not?”

Some fighters’ quality is evident just listening to the way they talk about the game. Quigley has that quality; a relaxed stillness and a quiet confidence about him. He is not a young man hoping he can do well in the big city. He appears to be a man who knows he can succeed and only wants challenges as he shows it.

“I'm looking forward to coming over here and showing what a small town boy can do,” he said with not a hint of bravado.
He was taught from a young age by his father, Connor, instilling in Jason the basics he still uses today.

My father, he's my coach,” Jason told me after I finally saw him fight against the Moscow Dynamo in a tough fight a week ago in Hollywood, CA. “He's taught me the style of boxing not fighting. My father taught me everything I know.”

Quigley’s style is that of a pure boxer with some fight in him. At the moment, all he has learned has been about the amateur style. Hit and not get hit. He stays behind his jab and you can see his mind turning along with his feet as he gives angles and combinations then gets out of harm’s way.

“I like to box,” he said. “I don't like to get messed up in fights, you know? I am good at boxing. I'm fast.”

One thing Quigley has not discovered is his depth at the pro level. In the amateurs, fighters dig only so deep. The fights are short and when a fighter shows any signs of trouble a match will be stopped. With head gear and larger gloves, things like chin and power are only tested so far. Now is the time for Quigley to find out who he is as a fighter.

“Yeah I've got power but I never really use all of it, pecking your shots [in the amateurs],” he said. “Single shot and get out of there. Now over here I will see what my power is like. I'll have to settle down on my feet more. I can do that. I've been training to do that.”

Quigley is a rookie in the WSB and one of a few new fighters on the Matadors. Though he is a small town kid in the big city for the first time, what he brings to the team is experience in the European system. His technique and experience will be an anchor for the team and a help to the younger team members who have yet to get international exposure. What Quigley gets out of this is something different.

“It’s a good opportunity because it's high stage,” said Quigley. “You are either going to perform or you're not. You know what I mean? You are either going to do it or you're not. It’s a great way to test you to see if you have what it takes. Like people say The X-Factor. What is the X-Factor? No one knows what it is. You just have it in you. And that is what you find out when you come to places like this. To see what is inside you and do you have what it takes to go the whole way? This is part of learning. This is part of stepping stones for me. Hopefully when I get my chance over here, I'll do the business.”

For most amateurs who turn pro, the moment is not marked by much more than learning what it is to get hit without head gear for the first time. It’s rare to debut on a major pay-per-view or big time cable show in front of a lot of people. Most careers start small. For WSB fighters, who fight in the pro style without head gear and with five three minute rounds, turning semi-pro is a much bigger deal. It is their first exposure to the bright lights of a larger production. Complete with video introductions for fans in attendance and team cheerleaders doing dance numbers in front of name fighters and celebrities, fighting on a WSB card in Los Angeles is a great way to break into the business. At the very least, it prepares the fighters for the whole package of celebrity and hype that can surround a successful career.

“It was great seeing it on the night; Seeing the lights, seeing the crowd, seeing the people,” said Quigley, who was happy to get a peek at what he was in store for in his debut. “You know, if you have a pro debut, it's not even as big as this. Around the world, and you go to small professional show, there's not a lot of people there. But here, you have the best boxers and stars coming to see it just as long as you know who they are.”

December 4, The Moscow Dynamo came to town hoping to continue their unbeaten streak. A rough and tumble team that probably wrestled as much as they fought, to a man they appeared older and much more mature physically than the Matadors.

Bakersfield’s 18 year old Bantamweight Edwin Sandoval took on the aggressive and very strong looking Vladimir Nikitin. From the get go, Nikitin laid out a jab and right hand then clinched. Sandoval looked like he was getting mugged as he tried to box and instead repeatedly got bum rushed by Nikitin. The Russian fighter would lose two points for rough tactics. At the bout’s end, he almost was disqualified for hitting very late after the bell.

“It felt great. I am learning more every fight; Fighting without the head gear, learning how to punch cleaner,” said Sandoval afterwards.

Sandoval ended up taking a split decision by scores of 48-45 for Nikitin and 47-46 twice for Sandoval. The decision was not one the Russian coaches agreed with.

“I felt like it was close, with the points and everything,” said Sandoval. “I felt like he should have got disqualified with the late hit. We could do it again. Just make it a clean fight. I got no problem with that.

Sandoval admitted that the rough tactics made it hard for him to get his game going.

“I am a boxer but I can bang too. They just have to be clean with me. Right in the pocket with me not pushing or elbowing me,” Sandoval said. “I have never fought anybody that rough. It took me out of my game. I couldn’t really show my skills. In the last round I was trying to get focused in on boxing and moving, picking my shots.”

Lightweight Matador Raynell Williams out of Ohio squared off for another grapple-fest with Adlan Abdurashidov. A slick boxer, Williams was also taken out of his game plan by the Russian fighter’s aggressive come forward attack.

“I felt good but it was kind of difficult because he was really rough,” said Williams after. “As the fight went on I got stronger and a little smarter in there. But it all comes from experience.”

An Olympic hopeful as well, Williams is a second year WSB fighter with a speed based style. Against the physical Dynamo fighter, Williams was crowded much of the fight. But he found a way to get off some clean shots and distance here and there. Still, the fight appeared to be the Russian’s but alas the judges had it the other way. With scores of 49-46 twice and 48-47 for Williams, Abdurashidov became absolutely incensed and refused to leave the ring stating “I won that fight” to anyone who listen. After about five minutes and a threat of a formal protest and boycott of the remaining three fights, the Dynamo went back into action.
It was time for Quigley to show his wares.

To see Quigley fight was to confirm everything I thought I’d see after our first interview. Quigley is a young middleweight and not built like a typical brawling power puncher. Lanky but muscular, he is the boxer his father made. With a high lead left hand, feet wide apart but with an impeccable sense of distance and good footwork, Quigley immediately made his presence known against Vitali Bandarenka. The Russian fighter charged in head first and rather than allowing him to crash and wrestle, Quigley stuck with the jab and side stepped as much as he could. The whole bout wasn’t pretty but more so than anyone on the Matadors this night, Quigley took control and clearly won his bout through distance, timing, effective use of his jab and am effective step back counter right hand. Quigley looked as good as the Russian’s style allowed in securing a score of 50-45, 48-47 and 48-47.

“I felt good, you know,” Quigley said afterwards. “It was a wee bit different without the head gear and everything on. It was first time without the headgear and vest. I really enjoyed it like, you know? I was a wee bit wary in the fourth and fifth round because it's unknown territory for me. But I enjoyed it and I am really looking forward to my next fight.”

Unlike a lot of young fighters turning pro at a young age, Quigley did not make the mistake of loading up on shots. He did a few times in the bout but it was always with purpose.

“I think I did it smart. I worked in flurries to catch the judges’ eyes,” Quigley said. “I didn't go out there to knock the guy out because you're not going to do that. If it comes it comes.”

The Irish middleweight said he was aware of the rough way the night’s fights were going but was also prepared for the roughhouse tactics due to previous experience.

“Yeah I heard that, but me and [heavyweight teammate] Sean Turner from Ireland as well, we come from the European style of boxing. We know Russians,” said Quigley. “We know they'll come to fight and rough you up if they have to. I'm used to that. Boxing always beats that. It's not MMA its boxing and skill will always beat that.”

As for his power in the pros, the jury is still out according to Quigley.

“Too early to tell,” he said. “That guy was a 26 year old man. He's a strong guy. I may never have as much power as him but if you land a shot on the right point, he's going down. Doesn't matter if he can bang or not. It’s all about taking your time and picking your shots. I never go for a knockout unless you need it. It’s all just I wait for shots to come and if it comes it comes.”

As for the rest of the night, in the remaining two bouts the Matadors split. Light heavyweight Siju Shabazz dropped a unanimous decision to Danil Shved, 48-47, 48-47 and 49-46. Matador heavyweight David Imoesiri took a decision over Vitaly Kudukhov in an awkward fight that featured even more WWE action. But it didn’t matter as the Matadors had already three of the needed victories in this best of five match and now sit 2-2 on the season after dropping a 5-0 loss to Venky’s Mumbai Fighters this week. In Group A, in which the Matadors sit in fifth place, they are tied with each team at 20 wins with each team. They return home to The Music Box in Hollywood, CA against the Bangkok Elephants December 18. In action will be team captain and 3-time Olympian bantamweight Rau’Shee Warren, Jason Quigley, , heavyweight Sean Turner, lightweight Leonid Malkov and light heavyweight Siju Shabazz..

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You can email Gabriel at maxgmontoya@gmail.com, follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/gabriel_montoya and catch him on each Monday’s episode of “The Next Round” with Steve Kim. You can also tune in to hear him and co-host David Duenez live on the BlogTalk radio show Leave-It-In-The-Ring.com, Thursdays at 5-8 PM PST. Gabriel is a full member of the Boxing Writers Association of America.

* Special Thanks To MaxBoxing.

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