NEW YORK — Former middleweight titleholder Peter Quillin’s decision to pass on a mandatory title defense against No. 1 contender Matt Korobov — a decision that forced him to vacate his belt and leave a $1.4 million purse on the table — has stirred plenty of discussion in the boxing community. Why would Quillin walk away from his title and a career-high payday against Korobov, a middle-of-the-pack contender with a thin resume?
In a telephone interview with SI.com, Quillin said his decision to pass on the fight was "emotional" and due to “a lot of different reasons.” Chief among them, Quillin said, was the recent birth of his son, Joaquin. Quillin, whose wife suffered a miscarriage last year, says he is determined to spend the next few weeks with his family and would not be ready to fight in November.
“I have not fought since April I don’t want to go in for a four-week training camp,” Quillin said. “My family is the most important thing for me. My wife, she still kind of blames me for not being there for her when she lost my first child. I chose to keep [preparing for a fight against Gabriel Rosado]. I thought it was important that I stayed [in camp]. After the fight, which was a rough fight for me, when I came home, we went through some rough times. I just want to make sure she knows that this is more important to me than boxing. I am so googly-eyed with the baby. I didn’t want to leave my baby right away. I made a decision that I can live with. I get some precious moments with my little one.”
Of course, boxing politics can’t be overlooked. Roc Nation, the company founded by rap mogul Jay-Z that recently entered the boxing business, won the right to promote Quillin-Korobov by bidding a startling $1.9 million. Quillin is represented by powerful advisor Al Haymon. There is widespread belief that Haymon preferred not to give Roc Nation the platform of a middleweight title fight. In fact, Top Rank vice president Carl Moretti, who promotes Korobov, told SI.com that Korobov would have had “no problem whatsoever” delaying the fight by a month. Roc Nation wouldn’t have either, according to a source.
“I’m advised by Al to do what is best for me and my family,” Quillin said. “If taking the fight was advised to me, I would have. Al has a Harvard education. He is not an idiot. He has delivered on all the things he has said for me. He has delivered in spectacular fashion. [Haymon client] Floyd [Mayweather] is the highest paid athlete in the world. Obviously Al has a great track record for fighters. That’s the formula for everything.”
Quillin admitted he was unsure about Roc Nation’s involvement as well.
“If you want to be political, Roc Nation is new to the business of boxing,” Quillin said. “A lot of things could go wrong. They hired [former Golden Boy Promotions COO] Dave [Itskowitch], who is a good person to run the program. But [rapper] 50 cent has some problems with [Yuriorkis] Gamboa. It’s nothing disrespectful about Jay-Z but Al is already proven in the sport of boxing. His track record means something to me. I don’t know anything about Roc Nation.”
Quillin says he doesn’t plan on being inactive for long. He says he hopes to fight before the end of the year. A fight against Daniel Jacobs, who holds a secondary middleweight title, has been discussed, according to a source. Though giving up his belt was disappointing, Quillin said, he views it as just a bump along the road.
“I could fight for another belt,” Quillin said. “I would love to fight Sam Soliman or Jermain Taylor. I will fight Gennady Golovkin. Let’s sit down and make it happen. The path is already set forth for me. For me, it boils down to loyalty. I’m loyal to the team. Al is the guy for me. He advised me on the best moves for me. I think he has big plans for boxing in the future of boxing.”