Scott Quigg at the Wild Card
When Scott Quigg prepared for his bout against Viriol Simion, which takes place today from Wembley Stadium in London, England, he did so at the Wild Card Boxing Club in Hollywood, California. This certainly wasn’t the first time he’s been to the gym made famous by Freddie Roach and his star pupil Manny Pacquiao.
For the past several years, Quigg would make the trek to the States to spend a few weeks at the facility located on Santa Monica and Vine.
Only this time around, it wasn’t just a visit. Quigg did so without longtime trainer Joe Gallagher and with Roach guiding him.
When Quigg was asked if he ever envisioned a scenario in which he wouldn’t have Gallagher – who would accompany Quigg and other members of his vast stable to the Wild Card in years past – in his corner, he told UCNlive.com, “At the time, I was obviously with Joe and we were flying in and I remember coming to this gym and I was a young kid and Freddie’s reputation – Freddie Roach and the Wild Card Gym. I came here and this is what changed me, at the time, from being a boy to a man. So, ever since, I’ve come back here every year and I loved it for the four, five weeks I’d come out and I got friendly with Freddie.
“The more we come every year, the more we’ve spoken. Obviously I was still training with Brian Hughes, at the time, and then I went with Joe Gallagher and I became British champion and then we had a long successful term together. So, to be honest, if you would’ve asked me 18 months ago, I’d say I would finish my career with Joe but every day can be different. Every day can change. So, as the days went on, we were training, I become (WBA junior featherweight) world champion and then times change and I come to a point where I felt I needed a change of environment. I’m one of them people that boxing’s my life and I feel I have to be improving all the time.”
While some may think Quigg is taking a shot at Gallagher, he makes a point to say, “I did feel like I was improving under Joe but I needed to be at the best place to be out with the sparring, the coaching, the knowledge. And I had my fingers crossed when I came to speak with Freddie to see if he would be interested.”
Roach, who also trains Miguel Cotto, is among the most sought-after cornermen in the game. But for him, Quigg was an easy sell. “He trains really hard. He doesn’t have too many distractions, like most fighters. That’s why I took the time to work with him and it’s going to be a great choice, I feel,” said Roach, who will soon join the “Pac-Man” in the Philippines.
By most standards, the Quigg-Gallagher union was successful. They won versions of world titles and became a well-known quantity in the U.K. But Quigg believed, for him to reach his absolute ceiling as a prizefighter, he needed to get out of his comfort zone. This meant coming to the States to train full-time.
And is there a difference?
“Oh, 100 percent,” he answered definitively. “Anybody in the U.K. will tell you that. The people that are in the gyms, the fighters that are in the gyms, they’re in there to make a living and they’re fighting for their livelihood. Back home, you have quality fighters but a lot of them have jobs, as well. Out here, the quality of sparring before this fight has been the best sparring.”
On this particular Saturday afternoon, Quigg engaged with the undefeated Abe Lopez, in his last day in camp before flying back to England.
Still, break-ups are always tough. It had to be tough leaving Gallagher, right?
Quigg says, “Listen, I’m a big believer and I was taught with Joe and I’ve got a lot of respect for him. As a trainer and fighter, I believe you’ve got to have that bond. They’ve got to know you because they’ll go the extra mile for you and the work ethic he had and the work he put in, I can’t say a bad word about him. But boxing’s a selfish sport.”
At the end of the day, while Quigg’s words might come off as harsh, he has a point. On fight night, the boxers are taking the punches.
According to Quigg, 32-1-2 (24), he still has a very cordial relationship with his ex-trainer. “I wanted to better myself in my career and it doesn’t mean I fell out with Joe. It doesn’t mean I disregard him or anything. I means I believe there is a better option for me to improve as a fighter, in areas I need to improve.”
Perhaps the pair would still be together if they hadn’t squandered the early rounds in last year’s grudge match against archrival Carl Frampton, in which Quigg dropped a 12-round decision. You get the feeling that fight will always gnaw away at him till he can even the score.
But he says of that night at the Manchester Arena,”I don’t regret anything because I couldn’t have put anything more into it in training camp We did everything – the game plan was wrong. Early on, the tactic was a bit negative. As soon as I started putting the pressure on, the fight changed. I’m not regretting anything because I couldn’t have applied any more into that training camp. I didn’t cut any corners and we thought we were doing the right stuff.”
After a slow start in the first half of the fight, Quigg rallied late but fell short. Looking back, there seemed to be a lack of urgency in the corner as early rounds were banked by Frampton. In retrospect, Quigg states, “What lost me that fight was I just wasn’t busy enough. I mean, don’t get me wrong; I got my jaw broken in the fourth. Obviously, that didn’t help but, at the end of the day, I dealt with it and we have to move on.”
And of course, he would like a rematch but that’s not the only fight he has in mind as he moves up to 126.
“Obviously, I’m always going to want to avenge that loss but I’d love to fight the winner of Leo Santa Cruz and Abner Mares. That’s a fight I’d really, really relish. I rate both of them as fighters. They’re very respectful. They train hard. They’re dedicated. These are the fights you want to be involved in and I believe I can beat both of them,” said Quigg, whose bout this weekend is an IBF eliminator, meaning he could get a crack very soon at Lee Selby, who holds that title.
As the 28-year old Quigg begins the next chapter of his career, it’s as if he is now beginning graduate school, to which he replies, “I wish school was like this because this is an education every day. I say that because you learn and you never stop learning in this game – and it’s the small things. I put it like this: I’m a car. I’m a make of a car. I’m a Mercedes. Freddie’s not going to turn me into a Ferrari or a BMW but what he will do is give me better alloys. He’ll fine tune the engine.
“It’s all about fine-tuning little things. You can’t change my style. I’m not going and be a basic boxer. We’re going to enhance my style and make it better.”
This is certainly no Southern California vacation for Quigg.
“The only difference is I walk out the door, the sun’s beaming down. I’m in the gym and I go back, go to bed. I really don’t do much,” he explained. Quigg has the discipline of a monk. So just what exactly does he do for fun? “My highlight all weekend is going to Starbucks and getting a black coffee and just having a coffee outside of Starbucks. That’s my downtime.”
When you joke with him that perhaps he could train like Rocky Balboa did in Siberia for his showdown against Ivan Drago in “Rocky IV,” he replies, “You give me a bed, food and a gym – that’s my life. You can put me in a blank room with four walls and a straitjacket and, with my imagination, I can entertain myself.”
He chuckles while he says this but he’s dead serious.
Roach says of Quigg, “His work ethic is just unbelievable. I knew it was good at one time but, being around him, it’s actually terrific. I mean, he’s a role model like Pacquiao and people should look at him. You want to be a good fighter, this is what you have to do.”
One day, Quigg could be the one training boxers. After all, where else for him to work than the one place he is most comfortable?
“I’d love to be a trainer and I’d definitely want to be involved. I couldn’t train everyone,” said Quigg, who has a particular type of fighter in mind. “I could only coach someone who’d put the amount of effort in that I put in because boxing’s too hard of a sport and too dangerous of a sport to come in halfway and not give it 100 percent.”
This has certainly never been a problem for Quigg.
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