Six years into his professional career, middleweight Peter "Kid Chocolate" Quillin is ready to bust out. He has talent, a fan-friendly style, a great nickname and an outgoing personality.
But it hasn't been the easiest of rides despite his perfect record and great potential. Just as Quillin (25-0, 19 KOs) was beginning to gain traction and was on the verge of gaining significant television exposure in 2008, he was forced to the sideline with a variety of injuries, one after another.
All told, Quillin was out for 17 months, finally returning to action in February 2010. Then he was out for another 10 months.
"I had a hand injury with my right thumb. That took me out," Quillin said. "Then I had appendicitis, and then I had a fracture all over the bone [in my thumb]. I was sparring [with cruiserweight titlist Guillermo Jones, who is much bigger] and a lot of people asked why you were in there with a guy like that. You just need a guy that can stand in there with me, and I get the good work that I need. So by all means, [Jones] was a nice fighter and everything like that, so it happened the way it happened.
"I don't have any regrets about it or any doubts about it. I've moved on from there and I put that behind me. I know 2012 is going to be one of my biggest years yet."
It won't be if Quillin loses to Craig McEwan on Saturday night (HBO, 10:15 ET/PT) in Cancun. Their fight opens the broadcast headlined by the junior middleweight match between Alfredo Angulo and James Kirkland.
At the end of 2010, and when he was finally healthy, Quillin signed with Golden Boy and has gotten on a roll. Golden Boy has kept him busy, and Quillin has responded with four consecutive knockouts in the four fights he has had since December. Granted, Quillin hasn't faced the most difficult opposition, although he did look good against the best of those opponents, former super middleweight title challenger Jesse Brinkley, whom he knocked out in the third round in April on a Telefutura card.
Despite the injuries and time off, the 28-year-old Quillin, who trains at Freddie Roach's Wild Card Boxing Club in Hollywood, Calif. (where McEwan used to train), said he remained positive about his situation. Judging by his engaging personality, I can't say I'm surprised.
"I can never rush anything, and I never can be negative about any situation," Quillin said. "I took me having the layoffs as a sign of what God was trying to give me. He was trying to give me experience. He was trying to give me a humble mind. He was trying to give me focus. So with those injuries, it kind of helped me -- sitting out, being able to watch other boxers and being able to gain the experience of being a professional boxer.
"So with that being said, I knew exactly where I was headed at. I couldn't have more to ask for than coming back with all those injuries and still fighting and being on one of the biggest platforms out there, HBO Boxing."
McEwan (19-1, 10 KOs), who is from Scotland and was a standout amateur, is coming off his first loss. Andy Lee knocked him out in the 10th round on HBO in an excellent March fight for which McEwan led on one scorecard and was even on the other two at the time of the stoppage.
Quillin said he isn't paying attention to McEwan's loss.
"I respect any fighter that I step in the ring with," Quillin said. "Craig McEwan is that other step for me to step in the ring with, and I'm looking across the ring and Craig is going to look at me, and I'm going to look at Craig, and this is the type of fight that fight fans love to see. Craig will put everything on the line, I'll put everything on the line, and this is a fight to be made.
"I'm glad to have this opportunity. I never took anybody lightly, so I took Craig like he's a world champion, and with this fight you're going to see what hard work is all made of."