In a move that has a lot of boxing folks hanging their head in shame, WBO middleweight titleholder Peter Quillin has decided to vacate his belt rather than face mandatory challenger Matt Korobov, in a fight that had been bought at purse bid by new promotional firm Roc Nation Sports.
"I'd like to thank WBO president Paco Valcarcel and his organization for their support throughout the years," said Quillin. "Winning the WBO world championship was a highlight in my career and something I'll never forget, this is a difficult decision, but in order to make the fights the fans and I want against my fellow middleweights at the top of the division, I needed to relinquish the title. This is an exciting new chapter in my life, and I'm looking forward to cementing my spot as the best middleweight in the world."
Quillin was scheduled to make a career-best $1.4 million for the fight, and most of the reaction thus far has been to dismiss his credibility as "middleweight champion," as if he ever really had any, and to suddenly hold titles up as meaningful and valuable.
But since boxing fans and media are so quick to dismiss title belts in the first place, why does this really matter? The idea that Quillin is "ducking" Korobov is kind of silly, since the fact of the matter is, it looks as though Quillin is instead targeting a much-discussed fight with Daniel Jacobs, who is also advised by Al Haymon and fights under the Golden Boy banner.
Jacobs holds the WBA "regular" title, which is a paper belt to be sure, but so was Quillin's WBO title, for all it really matters. The calls of Quillin being a coward are overdone, but boxing breeds a desire to see things that aren't going to happen. If Quillin had unified his belt with another -- which wasn't on the table right now, anyway -- then he probably would have been forced to vacate or stripped of one of them, anyway.
My point is, these title belts get in the way as much as they help anything. Forget the stupid belts for a moment. If Quillin fights Jacobs instead of Korobov, are you really going to be upset that you're getting a better fight? If he doesn't, and he fights another Konecny or Guerrero level opponent, then sure, raise hell, but until then, I'm interested in seeing where this goes.
Of course, the other thing here is that Al Haymon likely didn't want to work with Roc Nation Sports, even though they had proposed giving his fighter a lot of money, and supposedly, getting his fighters lots of money is the thing Haymon cares about. So maybe it is shameful, but I'm not sure it's Quillin that deserves the blame here even if it is.