Ryan Bivins returns to Bad Left Hook this afternoon with a special look at the June 2 fight between Peter Quillin and Winky Wright.
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On June 2, Peter "Kid Chocolate" Quillin will attempt to advance his 26-0 undefeated streak against future Hall of Famer Ronald "Winky" Wright in a middleweight contest scheduled for 10 rounds. This is a change of pace for Winky, whose previous 23 fights over the last 16 years, have been scheduled for 12 rounds. Wright, who hasn't won a fight in over five and a half years, is now in his 40s and is widely considered a huge underdog. Nonetheless Wright presents a step up in opposition for the 28 year old Quillin.
This fight is a crossroads in both fighters' careers. Quillin hopes to earn his first world title shot while Wright wants to see if he has one last title run left in him. Ironically when I first interviewed Peter over a year ago, he named Felix "Tito" Trinidad as the boxing idol he most identified with. Consequently a win over Wright will mean more to Quillin than just business. It will be a little personal too.
Peter Quillin, an African American of Cuban heritage, donned the name Kid Chocolate in tribute to the former world featherweight and junior lightweight champion of the same name. The original Kid Chocolate, also called the "Cuban Bon Bon", was born Eligio Sardinias Montalvo. As Montalvo was the first Cuban to win a world title (back in 1931), Quillin hopes to be the next. But right now Winky Wright stands in his way. They say every great fighter has at least one great performance left in him. Wright's last great performance came against none other than Quillin's idol Tito. Winky hopes history will repeat itself while Kid Chocolate looks for retribution. But who wants it more? Who needs it more? Hunger could very well decide the fight.
Quillin himself has doubted how much beating the current version of Wright would do for him. In many ways he finds himself in a no win situation. If he beats Winky, who cares? Fans and pundits will just call Wright a shot fighter. If Wright somehow rolls back the clock and pulls off the upset, Quillin will be written off as a hype job that was never that good in the first place. And even if Quillin wins, he better look good doing it. But who looks good against Winky Wright? If anyone did, it was Paul "The Punisher" Williams.
In Winky Wright's last fight, over three years ago, he was dominated by Paul Williams. As with the situation Winky is in now, he was coming off a loss and a long layoff. However his layoff then was less than two years and his loss was a debatable one against the legendary Bernard Hopkins. Winky looked rusty and old then and logic would suggest he'll look even rustier and older now. But it should be noted at the time Paul Williams was often lauded as the 3rd best fighter in the world behind Manny Pacquiao and Floyd Mayweather.
Furthermore Paul's non-stop punching is a recipe for disaster against fighters who shell up in stationary positions and wait for holes to present themselves. Don't get me wrong, the strategy can prove fairly effective if someone is throwing around 50 punches a round, but not when they're averaging near 100. Williams had to settle for an average of a little over 90 punches a round against Wright, but Wright self admittedly was still shocked by the activity. When your opponent is throwing two or more punches for every one you throw back, you better make sure your shots are accurate. And unfortunately for Winky, he was no more accurate that night than the Punisher.
Volume punching was first introduced as blueprint to beat Winky when he met Sam Soliman in 2005. Even though Wright was still one of the very best fighters in the world at the time, and even though Soliman was far from that, Sam still gave Winky a hell of a fight. Although Wright won a fair unanimous decision, many in the crowd booed the verdict despite the fact that Soliman was an obscure Australian fighting in the United States for only the 4th time. Understandably they couldn't see how cleanly Soliman's 1260 punches landed from where they were sitting. But what was obvious to anyone is that the fight was far from the one sided affair it was expected to be.
Sam Soliman came up two points short against Winky Wright on Melvina Lathan's scorecard in 2005. Paul Williams completely shut out Winky on Adalaide Byrd's card in 2009. Both used volume punching. But is volume punching even in Peter Quillin's arsenal? While I'm sure Kid Chocolate is capable of many things we've yet to see him do in the ring, so far I've never seen him as a volume puncher. In Chocolate's most recent bout he stopped Craig McEwan in the 6th round of a one sided affair. McEwan had previously beaten Brian Vera in a thriller and went life and death with Andy Lee in a losing effort. One judge and many observers felt McEwan was ahead of Lee going into the final round, where he was knocked out, while the other two judges had it even.
On paper McEwan probably represents the most difficult opponent in Quillin's career. What transpired in the ring is however another matter entirely. Throughout the bout Quillin landed hard right hands and left hooks that took their toll on McEwan's face as early as the second round, particularly his right eye. Quillin did his best work when he worked behind the jab but still remained in control even when he abandoned it, a luxury he might not enjoy against the more experienced Wright. A check left hook followed by a few right hands eventually ended the fight for Quillin as referee Manolo Alcocer, perhaps prematurely, waved the fight off as McEwan staggered forward into the corner. Early or not, the writing was on the wall as to how the bout would end.
According to Compubox, through the first four rounds of Quillin-McEwan, Quillin landed 60 of 173 punches. That's roughly a 35% connect rate at an average of a little more than 43 punches a round. Although HBO didn't disclose the stats on the last two rounds, it appeared to be a fairly consistent performance from Quillin. But is that the type of activity that's going to beat a fighter like Winky Wright? Even Bernard Hopkins averaged 10 more punches a round against Wright. And when Hopkins wasn't throwing punches his defense was simply on another level to what Quillin possesses at this time (no shame in that).
There is however good news for Quillin that comes from the Hopkins-Wright fight: Hopkins heavily relied on the right hand and left hook to pull out the win. Winky might tell you Bernard's best punch was actually his headbutt, but Quillin's head landed a few good shots on McEwan as well. Headbutts are simply common place in meetings between southpaw and orthodox fighters. Whether Hopkins would have landed his headbutts on Wright regardless is another story. Nonetheless, from an offensive stand point Winky needs to be wary of many of the same things he saw from Hopkins. And even if Quillin's technique in executing the same punches still needs work, the physically diminished abilities of Wright should compensate.
But no need to tell Quillin any of this, he's already done his homework. He's seen a wide variety of Winky's fights including but not limited to Fernando Vargas, Trinidad (obviously), Soliman, Hopkins, Williams, and the Shane Mosley and Bronco McKart series. Those fights are stored in his memory and have also been studied by his team. Quillin openly takes scouting advice from both his coaches Freddie Roach and Eric Brown. He's prepared to do whatever it takes to win and will make any adjustments necessary. If that means throwing a lot of punches in the mold of Soliman or Williams, Chocolate will do it. However, Peter's primarily concerned with putting pressure on Winky. Chocolate plans to force the fight and thus force Winky to make mistakes. He expects to be accurate and inflict pain. If the KO comes, it will have to come naturally.
Ultimately Chocolate just wants to win. And while his best punches in the past have been the straight right hand and left hook, don't be surprised if he lands other punches with bad intentions, particularly the uppercut. The best uppercut I've ever seen Chocolate land was in his fight with Troy Lowry. The fight ended with a 3 punch combination that was started with an overhand right, followed by a left uppercut, and finished off with a left hook. By the time the uppercut landed Lowry looked out on his feet. After the left hook landed he was out on his back. Still, Lowry was over 4 years ago and is notches below the level of even a 60% Winky Wright. Furthermore Lowry is no southpaw.
Craig McEwan on the other hand is a southpaw. Although Wright's defense is clearly superior, McEwan is still in his prime, throws over 70 punches a round, and is naturally a bigger man. Shots that McEwan ate flush will probably still damage a smaller and shop worn Wright who partially deflects it. But unlike McEwan, Wright has never previously been stopped in his long pro career. Winky actually has more pro fights than Quillin currently has at the professional and amateur levels combined (Quillin had 15 amateur bouts).
Nevertheless, some fighters do excel regardless of amateur experience. For instance Dwight Muhammad Qawi was world light heavyweight champion by his 18th pro fight with no amateur career whatsoever. Coincidentally, Qawi was the same age Quillin is now when he first became world champion. Needless to say the man formerly known as Dwight Braxton was a great fighter. Peter Quillin aspires to be great and isn't the only middleweight with limited amateur credentials and great expectations.
Like Kid Chocolate, the reigning lineal middleweight champion of the world Sergio "Maravilla" Martinez also didn't have a lot of amateur exposure. Yet Martinez remains the king of today's middleweight division and is widely recognized as the third best pound for pound boxer on the planet. Chocolate would like nothing more than to get a piece of Maravilla, but Maravilla would like nothing more than a piece of Floyd "Money" Mayweather. Ironically, Mayweather probably looks at Martinez the same way Martinez looks at Quillin in terms of risk vs reward. But while Martinez seeks to raise his profile by securing a fight with Julio Cesar Chavez Jr, Quillin attempts to do the same with Winky Wright. I don't consider it a coincidence that Martinez, Wright, and McEwan are all southpaws.
Quillin is preparing for Martinez and there's only so much longer the 37 year old Maravilla will be favored to beat him. You might describe Martinez as a man stuck between two fighters from Grand Rapids Michigan - can't get a chance to fight the older one (Mayweather) and doesn't want to give a chance to the younger one (Quillin). In the meantime Martinez is scheduled to fight the winner of Chavez-Lee, Quillin is scheduled to face Wright, and Mayweather is scheduled to go to jail. Should their next challenges go as expected we can revisit the likelihood of any of them fighting each other in the future.
Ryan Bivins can be contacted thru email at email@example.com or on twitter via @sweetboxing. Special thanks to Peter Quillin for providing information for this piece, follow him on twitter via @KIDCHOCOLATE.