NEW YORK — Peter Quillin sat on a dais late Saturday night with a toothy smile and hardly a scratch on his face. Hours earlier, Quillin, the undefeated WBO middleweight champion, the charismatic transplanted Brooklynite who has made the Barclays Center his new home, defended his title, stopping Fernando Guerrero in the seventh round. At 29, Quillin is a fighter with a bright future. Or at least he should be.
In the next few months, Quillin could become the most high profile casualty of the cold war between HBO and Quillin’s promoter, Golden Boy. In March, HBO announced it would no longer do business with Golden Boy, a decision tied to Golden Boy’s moving big names like Amir Khan, Saul Alvarez and Danny Garcia to Showtime. Should HBO stick to its decision — and there have been no indications that it is wavering — no one stands to lose more than Quillin. Virtually every top middleweight is tied to HBO. There is Julio Cesar Chavez Jr., who is also promoted by Top Rank, Golden Boy’s archrival. There is Sergio Martinez, the WBC champion who recently signed a three-fight contract with the network. There is Gennady Golovkin, the WBA titleholder who has fought exclusively on HBO and has a strong relationship with the network.
IBF champion Daniel Geale has not fought on HBO, but his promoter, Gary Shaw, has a close relationship with HBO Sports President Ken Hershman.
Last week, I asked Quillin’s promoter, Oscar De La Hoya, about the perceived lack of opportunities.
“We’ll find a way,” De La Hoya said. “We have many fighters under Golden Boy Promotions. The only promoter we are not working with is Top Rank. There are tons of other promoters we will work with. To us, we are going to mind our own business and do our own fights.”
That won’t be easy. According to Golden Boy’s website, the company only has three middleweights — Quillin, Danny Jacobs and Anthony Ogogo — under contract. Jacobs is a former world title challenger who is coming back slowly after battling spinal cancer. Ogogo is a 2012 Olympian who is years away from being ready for a meaningful fight. There are options for fighters who want to move up (Saul Alvarez, Cornelius Bundrage, Alfredo Angulo) but no signs that any of them intends to.
Outside the company, the options are limited, too: Matthew Macklin — who will challenge Golovkin on HBO on June 29 — Felix Sturm, Dmitry Pirog and Martin Murray are good fighters, but they are hardly household names and will bring Quillin no closer to his goal of becoming the unified middleweight champion.
Much in the same way Golden Boy has a stranglehold on the junior welterweight division, HBO controls the middleweights. And that could leave Quillin as the odd man out.
– Chris Mannix