Hip Hop mogul Jay Z made a big splash in the boxing world earlier this week with the announcement of Roc Nation Sports, which represents such athletes as Kevin Durant, Robinson Cano, and CC Sabathia to name a few, intent on entering the boxing world as a promoter. The company has already maneuvered itself quite nicely with the acquisition of David Itskowitch who will serve as the chief operating officer for its boxing division.
However, it wasn’t enough for Jay Z and Itskowitch to release a simple press release, instead they decided on a more impactful approach, and one that would be immediately recognized for its direct intent within the sport of boxing.
Roc Nation, represented by Itskowitch, showed up at WBO headquarters in San Juan, Puerto Rico and won the purse bid to secure the promotional rights for the mandatory fight between middleweight titleholder Peter “Kid Chocolate” Quillin and Matt Korobov.
It caught everyone by surprise, including Quillin.
“I really can’t even say too much about it because you don’t expect things like that, but it just lets you know how much you’re doing. I’ve been winning at this level for a long time and sometimes things in boxing surprise me more than what is expected,” Quillin said to Thaboxingvoice.com
Quillin sees the purse bid as a form of validation because Roc Nation Sports showed up to win, outbidding Top Rank ($515,000) and Golden Boy ($1.2M) with the winning bid of 1.9 million. That kind of money suggests that Roc Nation Sports had no intention of losing the bid and planned on being the lead promoter on fight night, despite the fact that neither Quillin or Korobov are under Roc Nation’s banner.
Quillin is excited about Jay Z and Roc Nation being affiliated to his next bout, presumably taking place in early November. It should give his public profile a much needed boost.
While Quillin is a significant figure within the boxing realm, he isn’t nearly as known outside of it and amongst the commercial audience. Still, he is a fighter that gets called out an awful lot because of his title and the fact that the middleweight title picture is split between HBO and Showtime with Quillin representing ShowTime’s middleweight champion and Golovkin representing HBO’s.
“I hear a lot of guys calling me out and I think ‘why does everybody want to fight me?’ and it’s because I’m the one with the star on his chest. I’m that guy right now and there is a reason all these things are happening for me, it’s like all my stars are aligning.”
Quillin will receive a record payday in his mandatory defense against Korobov. As the champion, “Kid Chocolate” is entitled to 75% of the winning purse bid which comes out to $1,428,630. While Roc Nation is ultimately responsible for his purse, Quillin acknowledges that many people within his camp are accountable for his current position in boxing.
“It’s a lot of people behind the scenes that are working hard, that lets me train to be ready. I got a baby on the way and I got big things ahead of me and good things to look forward to with my baby being brought into the world.
“I can’t worry about what other guys are making out there, I just worry about what’s on my table and what I’m able to eat. I’m willing to train and fight the best, I’ve been saying that from day one and I don’t know why I take so much backlash because I keep saying it. If the business is right, Pete gonna take the fight,” Quillin said.
It’s true that Quillin receives a ton of backlash from fans on social media and many have accused him of being unwilling to fight the best. However, it isn’t entirely his fault and the criticism for his past opponents isn’t fair because he has become a casualty of the Top Rank/Golden Boy-HBO/Showtime cold war.
“I didn’t come into boxing trying to pick and choose who he fights, I’m willing to fight the best in the world and you got to make sure that when you’re working with the best that they’re going to make sure you get the best opportunities out there.
“That’s what Al Haymon has done from me since day one, and as much as everybody else right now is in a frenzy, Al is the only one telling me to worry about my baby coming into this world and that’s what I’m doing right now, it’s motivating.”
Korobov is a solid fighter and it should be a good scrap, but he may be dealing with the most motivated version of Peter Quillin that there has ever been. A baby is enough to motivate anyone, but Quillin has found a new sense of self-awareness with Jay Z’s involvement in his next fight.
“This is unheard of and Jay just came out there with more than what people thought. I just can’t tell you what kind of impression it’s made on me, it’s motivated me in a way that tells me it’s there now. This is the time I’ve been waiting for, I knew this time was coming but I didn’t know it was gonna come this way or the impact it would have.”
Quillin recognizes the possibilities that are in front of him and the potential for his stock to raise with a great performance in his next fight. But no matter what he does Quillin will never satisfy everyone, even if he gets the nod from Jay Z himself.
It is a great story having Brooklyn native Jay Z supporting another Brooklyn resident in Kid Chocolate, but Quillin knows he can’t control the perception of the sports world’s most vindictive fans.
“Some people still won’t [fully get behind me], that’s the way it is. I’ve never put up anything bad [on social media], I connect with the fans, I talk to the fans, and I even talk to the haters when they’re telling me something bad. It’s just the way it is and I have no control over that at this point. But I’ll tell you one thing I know is real recognize real and by Jay stepping out the gate like that and doing what he’s done it ain’t for no reason,” Quillin said.
Regardless, Quillin has faced adversity in his life, the kind that real Americans can empathize with and connect to. In the end, Quillin’s only real desire is to be a role model to all the kids that have faced the same kind of obstacles he has had to deal with in his life.
“When people tell me I can’t do it that’s what motivates me. I want to be a hero to kids that is actually available to them, one that they can [reach] and know is real. It’s like I basically came out of a street fight and made myself a world champion, that’s an American story. My dad came from Cuba with nothing and now I’m here as the champion of the world and I want that to be an inspirational to people, I want to inspire.”
Assuming Quillin can retain his title against Korobov, there is a plethora of meaningful fights that can be made in 2015. Most would like to see him face off against Gennady Golovkin, but that is a difficult fight to make despite the fighters’ willingness to sign off.
Golovkin’s record is not that much better than Quillin’s in the first place and “GGG” has benifited from a deeper HBO stable of middleweights, but I don’t think Golovkin has beaten anyone that Quillin couldn’t and Quillin admits that fighters like Andy Lee, Matthew Macklin, and Marco Antonio Rubio, Golovkin’s next opponent, have all turned down fights with him.
Even Brian Vera, who was once Quillin’s mandatory, opted against fighting Kid Chocolate in favor of a bigger payday against Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. If Quillin was fighting on HBO then fans may have a completely different regard for him. It’s unfortunate, but Quillin remains determined to prove he is the best middleweight out there and relishes in the fact that the attention around Roc Nation Sports’ is centered on him.
“I can beat anybody in the world and with the impact that Jay Z has brought to boxing has [shined a light] and I’m glad I’m the one the light is on right now. But I’m going to go out there and do what I’m going to do anyway and now that I got some money on the table means I can bring the best guys I can get for sparring and train world class.
“There’s a lot of stuff behind the scenes people to get to know about how the business is conducted, I’m respected more because I don’t scream out when people have turned me down in the past,” Quillin said.
It would be awesome if Brooklyn rapper Jay Z involved himself with a fight between Quillin and another Brooklyn middleweight in Danny Jacobs. Quillin doesn’t feel like Jacobs deserves the fight yet, but he has to realize that a fight between the two of them at Barclays sometime down the road would be massive, especially if it is attached to Jay Z.
“I don’t think [Danny Jacobs] has done enough yet to deserve a fight with me. He criticized my last fight, but I had the guy hurt and I showed a lot of different things like my jab and some defense, but what it boils down to is I got a dog in me and when things go out the window I’m able to pull the dog out of me and find a way to win. I’m going to be very interested in Curtis Stevens fight with Hassan N’Dam N’Jikam and depending on how Curtis looks I think he’d deserve a fight more [than Jacobs].”
Jacobs is a cancer survivor and he has a great story, but he hasn’t proven he is at the level of Quillin or Golovkin. Quillin has a great story as well, but he knows that in this sport only one guy can rise to the top and he believes his story will be the last one told.
“Fighting guys, I’m trying to end their story. That means your part of the story is done, I’m fighting for my own story. I came up poor, struggling, and homeless in a way that seemed like there wouldn’t be a brighter day, I was in those shoes. When it comes to stories I’m trying to impact and help the world with my story through what I do. Anyone stepping into the ring with me is trying to take away from my story, but I’m in it to stop their story.”