When he was a boy, middleweight Jason Quigley used to watch his father shadowbox in the kitchen of their small home in Ballybofey, Ireland. He played rock music to keep his dad motivated during his workouts. But it was watching Marco Antonio Barrera beat "Prince" Naseem Hamed on television that made him fall in love with the sport.
"I was so excited my arms were tingling," Quigley said. "It was unbelievable, and that's when I decided to become a boxer."
Seventeen years later, the 26-year-old Quigley (13-0, 10 KOs) is getting ready for an eight-round match with Daniel "El Duro" Rosario (11-3, 10 KOs) on Saturday at Marina Bay SportsPlex in Quincy, Massachusetts.
A highly decorated amateur, Quigley appeared set to represent Ireland at the 2016 Summer Olympics but instead decided to turn professional. He signed with Golden Boy Promotions and made his debut on July 12, 2014, on the undercard of the Canelo Alvarez-Erislandy Lara junior middleweight title fight, knocking out Howard Reese in the first round.
By then, Quigley was based in Woodland Hills, California, and trained by Manny Robles at the Rock Gym in Carson, California.
"I moved to California because it's where pro boxing is at its highest," Quigley said. "Most of the massive fights are on the West Coast, and I was getting to fight on the undercards of big shows, seeing what all the hype was about. I wanted to see what it was like so that when my opportunity comes along, I won't be blinded by the bright lights."
Quigley stayed busy and progressed well enough to garner his first main event on March 23, 2017, against Glen "Jersey Boy" Tapia. While the Irishman won a unanimous 10-round decision, it proved a costly victory.
"It was a double whammy," Quigley said. "I broke a bone in my right hand and tore my flexor tendon. It happened early on. It's something you'd rather not happen, but I took it all on board. I probably didn't look my best, on a night when I really wanted to, but I got the victory."
The Rosario match will be Quigley's first since the injury, almost a year ago, and he's confident that his hand is as good as new.
"It's not a problem. I've never had any pain in my hand while I'm sparring, so everything is going great," he said. "It's like a lion being locked in a cage for a long time. I'm a lion ready to be released now."
It appears, however, that Quigley's California sojourn is over. He left Robles and the United States and is now being trained by Dominic Ingle in Sheffield, England.
"I'm excited. Sometimes it seems that there are more Irish in Boston than in Ireland. I'll feel right at home."Jason Quigley
"I have had a great time in America," Quigley told The Irish News. "Leaving L.A. was a decision that I took a lot of time to think about, but I'm happy that I have made the right decision. A lot of the fighters Dominic has had have the same style as myself. They are elusive, technically sound boxers who have power. It's time to tap back into my technique and my boxing skills. Dominic will bring those out of me."
Despite the geographic move, Quigley is still promoted by Golden Boy and managed by Sheer Sports.
After having campaigned mainly in California and Nevada, Quigley is happy to be fighting in the Boston area again, where he tallied his third pro win back in October 2014.
"I'm excited," he said. "Sometimes it seems that there are more Irish in Boston than in Ireland. I'll feel right at home."
With a little bit of luck, Rosario might also be undefeated. All three of his losses have been by decision, two via majority and the third by split decision. Overall, the 29-year-old Puerto Rican has fought slightly better opposition than Quigley. His best win came against Aaron Garcia, who had won nine in a row when Rosario knocked him out in the second round.
"He's a tough kid, and he knows that this is his big opportunity," Quigley said. "But at the end of the day, I don't care who they put in front of me. My opponents are hurdles to jump over on my way to a world title."
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