The past 15 months have been chaotic for Peter “Kid Chocolate” Quillin to say the least. He watched an uncle die of cancer, welcomed the birth of a son, made a controversial decision to vacate his WBO middleweight title in September of 2014 and missed a chance to regain it when he came in overweight against Andy Lee last April and received a draw in what became a nontitle bout.
But through all those travails, Quillin ultimately found his religious faith and divined his sense of purpose in boxing. Now, Quillin believes his focus on what’s important finally is in the right place heading into his challenge for Daniel Jacobs’ WBA middleweight title Saturday night at Barclays Center.
“What is it really about?” Quillin said earlier this week. “Is it about fighting for the glory? I make sure that whenever I do this, it’s a prizefighter mentality. I’ve learned it’s not for everybody to understand. As long as you understand the reason why you do it and you keep those reasons strong, only good things can happen.”
Quillin was roundly criticized last year for turning down a $1.4 million purse to defend his WBO title against Matt Korobov. There was a widespread feeling in boxing that Quillin’s adviser, Al Haymon, was pulling strings in the background because he didn’t want to work with another fighter’s promoter when he eventually could match Quillin and Jacobs, who also is part of his vast stable of talent.
But Quillin insists he had a variety of personal considerations for vacating. “Fans and the media said, ‘How could he vacate the belt? How could he turn down so much money?’” Quillin said. “But if my wife lost our baby at five months (while he was in training), I couldn’t come home. And then, I had my uncle passing away because of cancer. I was asking myself, ‘What does this mean?’ I gave up the belt because I wanted to have that time to be able to think.”
When he finally returned to the ring against Lee after a one-year layoff, Quillin failed to make the 160-pound limit. So, he managed changes on his support team, and it paid off when he weighed in Friday at 159, a pound under the limit.
Quillin also has made a point of emphasizing his religious faith and says he wants to make an impact on people. That’s why he visited an elementary school in Brooklyn this week and spoke to three young boys who were in detention.
“I said, ‘Whatever you’re struggling with here, sometimes’ it ain’t because it’s here. It’s because it’s in your own home,’” Quillin said. “When I said that, one of the little kids looked at me and nodded his head because he knew what it was. I said, ‘I’m from where you’re from. I don’t remember my mom ever hugging me when I was a kid. I never remember being motivated to be out of here because I felt like I had no chance to get out of here.’”
Because he didn’t want to be a hypocrite about telling kids to stay in school, Quillin got his GED recently. He’s also trying to set a good example by the steps he’s taking to provide for his family after boxing by investing in real estate.
From chaos, Quillin has emerged with a renewed sense of purpose to challenge Jacobs. “I want to tell you I’m going to go in there and knock Danny Jacobs out,” Quillin said. “That’s what most of the media wants me to say.
“But I’m not going to conform with the world. I’m going to say what’s on my heart. Danny Jacobs has just as much chance to beat me as I have to beat him. The whole purpose of this is being able to set up whatever God’s will is. I worked hard and listened to my trainers, I try to stay humble. My job is already done.”