It wasn't all that long ago that "Kid Chocolate" Peter Quillin was a prospect being watched across the sport. It just seems like a long time.
Quillin, now 27, was born in Chicago, raised in Grand Rapids, Mich., and has lived in Brooklyn trying to get a promising professional boxing career off the ground. But setbacks have come in bunches for Quillin, whose career has stagnated since 2008. Though he sports a 23-0 (17 KO) record, he's become a forgotten man in the 160/168-pound landscape, lapped by other prospects and falling from the land of the contenders.
Now he lives in Los Angeles, where he trains at the Wild Card Gym under the famed Freddie Roach, and has signed a deal with Golden Boy Promotions.
"I moved to L.A. for my boxing career and it's made a huge difference. Quality sparring is the big difference. Any time you're in Wild Card you could end up sparring with world champions, former champions or up-and-comers. I've sparred with Gennady Golovkin, Julio Cesar Chavez Jr., Mathew Macklin, Craig McEwan and others.
"You always pick up new things training here. Whether he's there three hours, three days or three months, Freddie is the guy," says Quillin. "Even when he's away, Freddie is on top of everything, either from talking to his assistants or watching video tape. Freddie's always watching you. I've already shown more knockout power since I've been training with him. I know my last two fights may have been against lesser quality guys, but I knocked them both out, setting things up with my jab and having more confidence in my punching power."
Those last two fights have come against Martin Desjardins in December (KO-1) and the more credible Dennis Sharpe in Febraruy (TKO-4). But it's what comes next -- an April 29 fight in Reno against hometown favorite Jesse Brinkley -- that really matters. The fight (which headlines Solo Boxeo Tecate that night in the rare actually interesting main event for the show) may not be one that many pay attention to, but is a big step back into relevance for Quillin, and he's thankful for the opportunity.
"Golden Boy gets you out there," Quillin said. "Everybody in boxing knows who you are because you're in Golden Boy's stable. They told me that they're high on me and will try and make me a star. Thank God, I made this change for my career. I was sitting around in New York, nothing happening for me back there."
After missing all of 2009 with multiple injuries and ailments (hand surgery, an eye injury, an appendectomy), Quillin may be at a now-or-never sort of stage in his career, and Brinkley is no pushover. While the 34-year-old from Yerington, Nev., didn't fare well last time out against Lucian Bute, he had been on a nice little run with wins over Curtis Stevens, Mike Paschall, and Nevada rival Joey Gilbert. Quillin isn't Bute. Quillin hopes he isn't Stevens, Paschall or Gilbert.
If the former prospect is going to become a contender, he's got the right trainer, he's got the right promoter, and now he has to perform.