by Tim Harrison
Rising middleweight prospect Peter “Kid Chocolate” Quillin (23-0, 17 KO) took some time to talk to The Boxing Tribune from his training camp in Big Bear, California. Quillin is in preparation for the Friday, April 29th catchweight bout with former championship contender Jesse Brinkley (35-6, 22 KO).
We talked to Quillin about his thoughts on Jesse Brinkley, what this fight means to him, training with Freddie Roach at the Wild Card Gym, and his thoughts on Golden Boy’s recent mishandling of its prospects, as he prepares for his biggest test.
The Boxing Tribune: Thanks for taking some time out of your day to talk to us, Peter.
Peter Quillin: Thanks for your time, I appreciate it.
BT: You’re stepping into the ring Friday to take on Jesse Brinkley. He’s 34 years old, has 41 pro fights, he’s got the experience edge, and he just shared the ring with Lucian Bute. How’s training for Jesse Brinkley coming along?
PQ: My training has been coming along pretty well. I’ve been training very hard, like usual. This time I’ve had a little bit more time to train for Jesse, and I’ve got a little bit more of a game plan put together for when I step in there with Jesse.
BT: Are you on weight for the fight? And what division will the fight be in? I know you’ve bounced back and forth between middleweight and super middleweight.
PQ: It’s at a catchweight. It’s at 165 pounds, so I’m fighting in between middleweight and super middleweight. But I truly want to campaign as a middleweight. That’s my true weight, and I walk around at 172 pounds and I’m close to weight right now. I want to start campaigning as a middleweight, but this is the perfect fight for me to take. I really couldn’t say “no”. Jesse started his career at 147 pounds. I started my career at 162 pounds, and for the last 5 years I’ve been kind of consistent on my weight and everything.
BT: You said it’s a fight you couldn’t pass up, and it’s being said that this is the biggest test of your career up to this point. Would you agree?
PQ: I would truly agree. Jesse is coming off a loss to Lucian Bute for a world title. He was on the world title platform, and that’s where I want to be at. So by all means I would say it’s the biggest fight of my career because of who he’s just been in there with, and who he’s coming off a loss to.
BT: Do you think a win over Jesse Brinkley catapults you up to that next level?
PQ: Of course…yes I do. I think it will put me in a top ten spot for a lot of the different sanctioning bodies out there. You know, this is for my first title; the USBO title. So altogether – all around it’s a good thing for me. It’s the first time I’m actually going to somebody’s backyard and fighting him. On paper I am a favorite, but when I’m there in that arena I’ll be the underdog because of all of Jesse’s fans that will be there.
BT: Do you have any middleweights on your radar, or are you waiting to see where you fall in the rankings and move from there?
PQ: Yeah, I kind of want to just take it one day at a time. I think Golden Boy has my best interest at heart, and my hard-working manager John Seip is working very hard to create different opportunities for me. So I’ll take the opportunities as they come along. First and foremost it’s Jesse Brinkley. I’m working hard to beat him, and then after that we’ll see what else is on the table.
BT: You’ve been training at The Wild Card Gym in Los Angeles for about a year now, if I’m not mistaken. How has the adjustment from training near home to coming out to a new city and making everything a new home?
PQ: The difference between New York and California, is when I was in New York at my gym I was like the star there. Everybody knew me and I was that top guy. But when I came to Wild Card I’m just another good fighter out of tons of good fighters in the gym. I just fit in place with those guys. The sparring is great, and it’s great to train in, like, a real gym. It smells like a gym, you know? So when you go in there you’re going to see real fighters. Sometimes when you’re in there you see sparring and it’s like a real fight. That’s good for me to get me the mentality that I have to perform at a level – or an even higher level when I’m competing against these guys.
BT: You answered my next question, which was going to be if the talent pool at Wild Card has raised your game at all?
PQ: Of course it has. I’m learning to use all my tools…putting my jab together, a lot of feints, and putting punches together. It’s been a roller coaster ride that I’ve been enjoying every day.
BT: So, you’re training in one of the most famous gyms in boxing, for the biggest test of your career up to this point. Have you changed anything about this training camp, such as intensity, importance, sparring, anything?
PQ: I’m just training very hard for this fight, like always. It’s a full-time job – well not really a full-time job, because a full-time job is 8 hours a day, and I only do 5 hours. But I put a lot of work into that 5 hours, and it’s the 5 hours that I love to do. At the end of the day, what can I say besides going out there, training hard, and performing great is all part of my job.
BT: I’ve seen Eric Brown working your corner, and I know Freddie Roach has a lot of input in your training. Has Freddie Roach devoted more attention to this camp, if that’s even possible, with Manny Pacquiao’s camp in full swing?
PQ: Actually that was the thing. Eric left when he was working with Paulie [Malignaggi] as well. So when he was away, Freddie was – well, when Freddie is in the gym, he’s working with me. I’m getting some kind of direction from him. It could be his point of view when I’m sparring, or a lot of other things. But he does have a lot of other fighters in the gym, like Manny, Amir Khan, who is on a different level than I’m on…and I respect that. But at the end of the day I do get 2 different points of view working with Freddie and Eric Brown, who is a great trainer as well. All I’ve ever really wanted in my career was to have somebody to handle me the right way. Since I moved to Wild Card all I’ve been getting is first-hand treatment, from Freddie or from Eric. When I first came there I wasn’t expecting to get to work with Freddie all the time. I understand that he’s a very busy trainer, and a lot of people there demand his time, but I think I fall into place according to the fight schedule and everything. Freddie oversees everything – even signs off on my fights. When this fight was brought to my attention, Freddie said he didn’t have a problem with me fighting this guy. I’m very fortunate to be working with a guy like that, who is up in the gym giving direction.
BT: Have you studied any film on Brinkley, or have you seen any of his fights?
PQ: I’ve seen a little film on Brinkley, but I don’t watch too much film really. I let Freddie and Eric come up with the game plan. You know, you can prepare for a guy, you can look at him on film and he’s fighting one way, but when you get in there with him he’s fighting a whole totally different way. So what I usually do is try to learn a guy in the first round. I’ve watched a couple rounds with him when he fought Joey Gilbert and Curtis Stephens. I’ve seen that he’s pretty good at shifting behind his punches, and he’s very tough; he takes a lot of punches. There really isn’t much there that is special to me and that I haven’t seen before. I’ve been in there with the likes of Antwun Echols, Fernando Zuniga, Dionisio Miranda, and Sam Hill. But for the most part, when you get in there it’s about what you’re able to do, it’s about adjusting. So you can have your game plan, but if you don’t learn how to adjust and catch a rhythm from round 1 you can fall too far behind and never get back in it.
BT: What have you seen in him that could be a problem for you?
PQ: He might come up in there with a lot of hair on his head (laughs). I’m playing…let me stop playing. I’m only joking around because I think what I do for a living is a very serious thing, and people can get too serious. At the end of the day, I’m in here training all the time, up in Big Bear getting used to the high altitude. I’m expecting Jesse to come in there and be tough and throw punches, but it’s my job to get out of the way of those punches and make him pay for the mistakes he makes. I just need to use my speed, use my boxing ability, use my ring generalship and really the whole beauty of the science of it, you know…putting my foot in the right place at the right time, move my head when it needs to be moved, and slipping and roll with punches and look beautiful when I’m in there.
BT: What weaknesses do you see that you’ll be able to exploit?
PQ: The Body, for one. He bruises really easily, and his face gets real swollen. I’ve got a hard face, I’ve got like an African brick face. It’s like you hit me and I don’t swell easily, but I did get cut before and sometimes it might open up. What else can I really say, but he’s just a tough guy with some holes in his game? But that doesn’t necessarily mean he can’t fight, he just gets swollen in the face. I’m just gonna go in there and do what I’ve been working on. I’ve been working on my speed and power a lot. I’m not overlooking Jesse at all, so if I’m speaking out of arrogance, please excuse me because I’m not trying to be arrogant. I’m just speaking from confidence in my hard work that I’ve been putting in. I’m very fortunate to be in the position that I am. You know, the people that I’m training with, and the people that I’m promoted by are a super team. A super team makes a super fighter, and God willing, one day I’ll be a super champion.
BT: I’d be remiss if I didn’t ask this. We’ve seen recently, other Golden Boy Promotions prospects like Danny Jacobs, Charles Huerta, and James Kirkland upset in fights they were supposed to win. Do you have any concerns at all that Martin Desjardins and Dennis Sharpe were not adequate to prepare you for a guy like Brinkley?
PQ: Wow…I turned pro in 2005, and it’s 2011. So I’m almost a 6-year pro. I’m very polished as a pro, I’m working with some of the best people in the sport, and the best trainer who oversees everything and is working to get me where I want to be at. My confidence is there. I’ve seen a lot of things, you know. I’ve been hurt before, I’ve come through adversity, and I’ve been in there with some tough guys that can crack that I’ve gone the distance with. I’ve seen it all, so it’s not like I’ve been blasting all my opponents. I’ve been learning on the job, and right now with Jesse Brinkley, I have to show where I’m at. I have to prove myself when I get out there, so when people say, “do you think you can be ready?” I don’t even look at it like that. I could fight. I got the heart, I’ve got the button to take punches, and at the end of the day when I fight Jesse Brinkley, it’ll be just another notch on my belt that I’m working hard to secure being a middleweight champion of the world.
BT: What can we expect on Friday night?
PQ: The first thing we’re gonna expect is for me to have a haircut when I leave Big Bear, because I’m kind of wolfing it right now. I’d like to look good for TV. Not only that, I’m gonna go up in there and show people what kind of class fighter I am, where I believe I should be, and when they see that, they’re gonna say, “we should be putting Kid Chocolate in the echelon of fighters that we didn’t have him in before.” Danny [Jacobs] has been there. Danny’s got a few more fights than me. There are other fighters out there that have just a few more fights than me, but I just don’t have that extra, that breakthrough fight. This is my breakthrough fight to get me where I can get other opportunities. I’m the type of guy that will take opportunities as they come along, so this is the first step to secure that place in boxing that I want to be at. I’m from the streets of Grand Rapids, Michigan, and I moved to New York with not a lot of money in my pocket. I just came there with a dollar and a dream, and you know what? All I’ve been doing is living my dream, so it’s gonna be hard for Jesse to crush that for me. You know, I lost a tooth doing this. I walk around every day without a tooth just to show my struggle in this sport. This is what I do for a living. I look like a fighter, but I don’t smell like a fighter (laughs), and I think that’s most important…that I’m living the part.
BT: Closing thoughts for your fans?
PQ: I want to thank The Boxing Tribune for giving me a call. I want to thank God, not for a victory, but for the tools that he gives me to go ahead and polish up and work on in the gym. I want to thank all my family and friends that have been showing me a lot of support. To all my fans out there that have been following me: keep following me. You can follow me on Twitter at twitter.com/kidchocolate. I’m always interacting with my fans there. Get me on Facebook, just look me up, “Peter Quillin”. Again, I can’t say too much, but I can say that I’m very blessed and I’m very humbled knowing that God has big plans for me. The first step is to try and secure that middleweight title…thank you very much.