By Anthony Baldini / @baldinipr
Who are you when a door closes in your face?
When someone says, “No, this is not for you.”
When someone says, “You didn’t do what it takes to have me.”
Does denial of a dream make you anxious? Does it make you angry? Regretful?
Or, like any good Nike commercial from the past decade, does it create a flame within to combat what is and force a situation to become what isn’t?
As of Saturday, September 21 sometime around 10 p.m., Peter Quillin was invited by the boxing community to find out.
In the immediate aftermath of a split-decision fight that didn’t go his way, Quillin became a 36-year-old no longer an appropriate owner of the nickname “Kid Chocolate.” He’s not young in the boxing world, and his road to a title is muddled after a staggering defeat to Alfredo Angulo, he of heavy hands, seven losses, and a punching bag reputation. On the surface, an arguable split-decision loss wouldn’t necessarily spell the end of a career. However, an examination of the way Quillin lost reveals a boxer that just couldn’t put it all together as a champion does.
In 10 rounds, Quillin became the equivalent of a starting pitcher that records two beautiful strikeouts pinpointed on the edge of the plate, gives up a solo home run, and then strikes out the next guy to end the inning…and then goes out and does the same thing every single inning. The talent superiority and technical precision lead to a vote of confidence, but at the end of the day, a run was still surrendered each inning.
That was Quillin’s night against Angulo, toying with slicing cutters all night but leaving a hanging curveball out each round.
Quillin looked comparatively big and quick, and he dodged Angulo with regularity for the first half of the bout. He didn’t just keep Angulo at bay – he kept the free-punching stalker from landing a single jab for about five rounds. Angulo looked like a slow-moving death trap, a train that you hear approaching from a safe distance well before the lights turn on and the guardrails descend. The fight invited a feeling that Quillin would assert himself more and more as the rounds passed by.
Yet, Quillin still allowed Angulo to land highlight-reel rights across the chin and nose every two minutes. With all due respect to an absolute warrior in Angulo, Quillin’s moments of weakness felt like something avoidable. Getting hit is a part of boxing, but this was something more. It was, in a sense, unjustified.
So why did we see it?
The answer lies somewhere in Quillin’s head, and it will hurt every former potential-filled high school jock reading this at their absolute core. It’ll hurt the “what if” crowd, the ones who have ever failed at something and in retrospect feel they did seemingly everything right but not enough all at the same time.
He just didn’t give it his all. Or, he just wasn’t capable of doing so because of his age and tenure in the fight game. The end result reflects that.Is this the end of Peter Quillin as a title contender? (Premier Boxing Champions)
Quillin’s self-awareness wasn’t what you expect to see from a man one fight away from challenging for a title. In moments where you saw him hit a combo with an opportunity for more, the more was never taken. The “this is my fight and my time” exclamation was never exerted for more than glimpses. Whether that’s chalked up to complacency, strategy, or physical limitations, it just wasn’t there.
Anyone who has aspired for something but didn’t quite shift into top gear knows it. It sucks. It hurts. It can linger and haunt if not addressed. Show kindness to the man who no longer has time on his side to get what he wanted in earnest, who has lost something part of his identity.
Watching Quillin take a shot across the nose as he bobs on his heels feels like a slap in the face to anyone who just watched him put on a 1:30 demonstration of technical prowess; the juxtaposition of the two makes you feel like what you’re watching shouldn’t be taking place, but it is. It’s confusing and unaccounted for to the novice onlooker.
In any manner, Quillin now has a second loss on his record, one that tapes will reveal was within his reach, yet unattainable without the extra something. Because of his age, the fear for him is he’s unable to discern in the coming weeks whether his talent or drive was the culprit in a heavy upset (or if it was some mixture of both) while dealing with post-fight recovery and a trip to Wellbeing Chiropractic.
In the event he chalks up his performance to age and decline, lacking consideration for the power that his frame of mind possesses in a sport of grueling endurance, he may just wrongfully tell himself “I don’t have it,” halting his late-career ambitions to ascend before his time is truly over.
Equally threatening is the chance he blames the loss on his mentality and approach, something completely within his control. For all of the mental fortitude elite boxers possess, this nemesis can break down anyone lacking the right attitude and support system. It’s appropriate that if the sport of boxing is mostly mental, the greatest threat to a fighter is how they process life and how well they understand themselves.
The door has been shut on Peter Quillin’s face. What he does next is his willingness to open the door again.
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