It was the chocolate.
Specifically, the Hershey Kisses that rained over those in attendance at ringside.
That’s when it became clear that the fighter celebrating in the ring could be something special.
Of course, it was initially obvious that something special was happening by the skills displayed in the recently concluded fight.
But in the moments after his numerous victories in New York City, when middleweight Peter “Kid Chocolate” Quillin would dig deep into a big bag of chocolates to disperse to the audience, it became apparent that Quillin had the potential to be something besides just another talented fighter.
The boxer from Michigan, fighting out of Brooklyn, had the potential to be a star.
In a sport that is depressingly void of boxers who have both skill and charisma, smarts and looks, the unbeaten Quillin (26-0, 20 KO’s) seems to be the full package. That can all be for naught, however, if Quillin doesn’t get past his biggest test to date on Saturday night when he takes on former champion Ronald “Winky” Wright (Showtime will televise).
It’s a fight with a storyline as old as the sport itself – the young, up and coming boxer versus the battle-tested ex-champ. And even though Quillin is favored to win, and likely win easily, he still has to secure the victory to move on to bigger and better days.
“I understand this is the most important fight of my career,” the 28-year-old Quillin told Fightnews on Sunday morning.
“I have to look good and I prepared myself like I’ve never done before. I know what’s at stake right now,” he said. “If I want to be at the top level, I have to work that way. So I brought up my work ethic in this fight. I tried to not let someone baby me. I’ve been doing my own running; my conditioner trainer is three days a week (that’s 90 minutes of straight pain and torture) and I do two hours dedicated to boxing inside the gym six days a week.”
Despite the fact that Wright hasn’t fought in three years, has lost his last two by wide decisions and hasn’t won a fight in six years, Quillin still says he’s prepared for the best.
“It’s dangerous once I start thinking I won the fight already before I even get in there,” he reasoned. “I don’t know exactly what I’m able to do until I get in there. He might be a 21-year old ‘Winky’ Wright on steroids, I never know. That’s what I’m preparing for. But at the end of the day, this is a fight I turned down a year ago. When they said ‘do you want to fight him?’ I said, ‘what does that fight do for me?’ Now, I’m getting paid a little bit more money. And then, on top of that, I get big exposure to be on the telecast. Why not get the exposure for beating up an old dude? Why not take that opportunity? So, yes, I’ll take the fight now. Now that I get paid more money and I got some exposure on it, yeah, why not?”
This was a fight that was originally slated to be staged earlier this year, essentially keeping Quillin training non-stop. “Training’s been awesome. I was supposed to be getting ready for May 5th. I was prepared to fight May 5th. That didn’t happen. The fight got pushed back to May 26th and then June 2nd. I was all ready for all of those dates,” he said.
“So I’ve been in camp, you can put the time together, more than probably twelve weeks for this fight. As far as training, I’m always in training. I live a clean lifestyle. I love boxing so much. I know it’s my job so it doesn’t make me numb for me to do it all the time. And even outside of that, I go back to Trinity boxing club in Manhattan, New York and I train people to get them into fights and try to bring more fans back to the sport. So training has been A-1. I’ve been having great sessions with Eric Brown and with Freddie Roach and my conditioner, Brad Bose.”
If Quillin, once a New York staple, wanted to truly make it to the big stage he felt he had to move his training camp out west. Now he trains at perhaps the hottest gym in the country, Roach’s “Wildcard” in California. It’s all, Quillin said, part of the bigger plan.
“I want to be a star in my own country,” stated Quillin. “I just read that Daniel Geale is willing to come to the U.S. and make a name for himself here. I’ll take a fight with him. The IBF middleweight champ? I’ll take a fight with him. You know, he wants to come here and make some money and get some exposure, why not? They need to start supporting us Americans in our country. Now I’m not saying the Russians and all them other places but I’m saying everybody in the United States support their own fights and fighters.”
“I work hard,” he continued. “I’m the true American dream. My dad came here from Cuba to make opportunities for our family. And now I’m trying to be the biggest and best middleweight out there and it’s like I get a lot of naysayers saying that I can’t do it. But that’s what drives me anyway. I always got that my whole life so at the end of the day I’m just going to try to be the best that I can be and work very hard at it.”
Quillin knows what to say and to date, has backed it up in the ring. He’s favored to win on Saturday and will probably be favored to win a few more big ones in the future.
If he does, expect to see the chocolates flying.