The boxing community in New York is like a small town where everyone crosses paths frequently, so, it was natural for middleweights Daniel Jacobs and Peter Quillin to form what is best described as a professional friendship when they were just two guys climbing the ladder and facing the same obstacles.
But former WBO champ Quillin (32-0-1, 23 KOs) offered a few words of caution to WBA champion Jacobs (30-1, 27 KOs) before they meet Saturday night at Barclays Center. “We’ve been friendly for a long time,” Quillin said. “I say, ‘friendly,’ because true friends, you never want to bring harm to. But that’s not the case in this fight. I’m trying to bring harm his way. I hope he’s ready because, if he’s not, it’s going to tell right away.”
Hearing those words repeated to him before the final news conference yesterday in midtown Manhattan, Jacobs shook his head and offered a knowing smile. “If that’s the case, there’s really no friendship at this point,” Jacobs said. “As far as friendship, I think a lot of people get it misconstrued. We’re very cordial, very friendly, and every time we see each other, it’s always love and support.
“But outside of that, it’s not like we call each other to hang out or we do things together. New York is a very small boxing circuit, and we see each other often. We talked about other things besides boxing, but this is one of those sports where you can’t make too many friends, especially guys in the same weight class as you. Now, it’s just business, two guys trying to hurt each other.”
Quillin and Jacobs, both of whom fight out of Brooklyn, knew this fight was inevitable. As their records suggest, both middleweights are fully capable of doing significant damage. But questions arose about Jacobs’ vulnerability when he was knocked down by lightly regarded Sergio Mora in August, even though Jacobs scored a second-round TKO.
“I think that knockdown might have come at the perfect time,” Jacobs said. “It was actually me being careless. It was me coming in recklessly trying to knock a guy out because I had him hurt. I had just dropped him, and I wanted to go in and finish him. It let me know that even when a man is hurt, he still can be dangerous.
“So, knowing that going into this fight against a guy who is known for his power, I’m definitely going to be more cautious than I’ve ever been.”
In Jacobs’ view, Quillen’s power-punching ability — the “equalizer,” as he calls it — is what has carried him to this level. When Quillin received a split draw against Andy Lee in April, Jacobs noted that it was the two knockdowns Quillin scored to Lee’s one that prevented him from suffering his first loss.
“I’ve never viewed him as an ‘A’ class fighter; I’ve never viewed him as elite,” Jacobs said of Quillin. “I won’t say he’s an overachiever, but he has achieved a lot in his career because of his power. But when you’re at this level where you’re fighting top-five fighters, skills definitely are going to outweigh a guy who has just power and grit to win.
“I know to keep my defense tight and make sure that I avoid those strong, awkward, intense shots. I’m not a knockout artist, even though my record would say that. When I get a guy hurt, I know how to finish the job, but I’ve learned how to box, how to hit and not get hit from the amateur system and having an extensive amateur background and learning the basics. I think my skill set will be the main factor in this fight.”
The winner of Jacobs-Quillin is supposed to make a mandatory defense against the winner of a WBA title eliminator between Chris Eubank Jr. and Gary O’Sullivan that is scheduled Dec. 12 in London. But ultimately, Jacobs would like to run the gamut in the middleweight division, possibly building toward a 2017 meeting with Gennady Golovkin.
“I want to be able to fight the best,” Jacobs said. “I think 2016 will be a great year for me. It will be my coming out party.”