Peter Quillin was a hot prospect, and then due to injuries and management issues and all sorts of other typical problems, he faded away a bit, sort of a forgotten young fighter. Flash forward just a couple of years from his professional struggles, and he's an Al Haymon and Golden Boy-backed world titlist, a potential star on the rise, a charismatic and likable fighter who brings action to the ring.
In other words, "Kid Chocolate" has hit the level he was supposed to, overcoming setbacks as an adult after overcoming the odds against him from childhood.
Quillin, who turns 30 in June, faces Fernando Guerrero this Saturday night in his first defense of the WBO middleweight strap, and says he's got no intention of looking back from here.
"I earned my belt and I don't plan on giving it back until I retire," Quillin said. "I'm going to win a few more belts for my collection, if any of the other world champions want to fight me on in a unification fight. My goal is to become the undisputed middleweight champion of the world but, first, I have to take care of business Saturday night against a hungry challenger."
Quillin doesn't dismiss Guerrero (25-1, 19 KO), a solid prospect in his own right, and another Haymon fighter, but says he sees a key difference in their approaches.
"The big difference between me and Guerrero, though, is he wants to be famous and I just want to be the best middleweight in the world. Boxing is a struggle, like my well documented life, coming from such a negative environment. He's a lot different than anybody I've fought, a different challenge I want to get past. I take nothing away from him but, he knows what it feels like to lose. I'm 28-0, never been beaten, and I've challenged myself to stay unbeaten."
Wild Card trainer Eric Brown, who leads Quillin's corner, added, "Guerrero is a tough kid with some skills who can box a little. He's like any other guy we fight - we take 'em serious and don't play 'em. We're preparing to fight this guy at his peak, ready for him to bring his best.
"Anytime a guy goes from contender to champion, like Peter, his confidence is higher. He feels good about himself. People start calling him champ, recognizing him as a champ, and that boosts his enthusiasm. But I think it's more difficult defending than winning a world title. Once you win it, you've got to prove it wasn't a fluke. Peter will prove that he's even better than when he won the title."
Quillin (28-0, 20 KO) outgunned Hassan N'Dam last October in Brooklyn, where Quillin is being positioned as a future headliner, due to his ties to the area. Born in Grand Rapids, Michigan, Quillin relocated to NYC and now lives in Brooklyn.
Co-manager John Seip says that Quillin has "developed a different mindset going from contender to world champion. Insecurities and confidence issues are erased as champion. He's a much more dangerous fighter as a title holder. The world championship belt is something all fighters train for and dedicated their lives to. He is much more aware of this and takes nothing for granted.
"This is the second phase of Peter's career. The hard part has just started and there is no room for complacency. Peter isn't satisfied with winning the world title; he wants more. We've been with him since day one and we've never seen a more confident, determined young man. He sincerely believes he is fulfilling his destiny, which is very difficult to beat."