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'I was even getting a suit sorted for Tokyo': Quigley has bit between his teeth after brief taste of big time

Jason Quigley won’t be fighting Ryota Murata after all, but the Donegal puncher believes his world title shot won’t be long coming.

Image: Eoin Mundow/INPHO

DONEGAL MIDDLEWEIGHT JASON Quigley [14-0, 11KOs] says he remains ‘ready to rock and roll’ after his Vegas fight with WBA Regular champion Ryota Murata [14-1, 11KOs] fell through down the stretch of negotiations.

The 27-year-old Ballybofey man was set to face the Japanese warrior in a career-biggest test at the Mandalay Bay Casino only for a few snags to dictate that the fight be shelved.

For starters, the WBA, for whose strap Quigley was tentatively scheduled to fight Murata, ordered Japan’s 2012 Olympic champion to instead square off with his mandatory challenger, Rob Brant.

Another issue was the fact that Quigley’s new trainer, Dominic Ingle, is set to be cross-country in Boston to take Billy Joe Saunders’ corner on 20 October – the same night as Quigley was slated to step to Murata in Vegas.

Add to the equation that the Golden Boy-promoted Irishman would be fighting on a card run solely by Golden Boy’s promotional rivals, Top Rank, who have major plans for Murata, and the camel’s back was starting to grow weary.

maxresdefault (6) Ryota Murata Source: Top Rank

Murata and Top Rank initially hinted at a willingness to ditch the WBA bauble and face Quigley without it – the former European gold and World silver medalist being a bigger-name opponent than Brand despite his career only now evolving beyond its formative stage.

This made almost no sense to Quigley or his team from a career standpoint, however: Quigley – who has fought just once since an egregious break of his right hand in March of 2017 – had forfeited an August tune-up in pursuit of Murata’s belt, not his name, all the while cognisant that the shiny potential reward outweighed the risk; a non-title fight on a Top Rank Card – all of it sans-trainer and with no warm-up – appealed about as much as a free shot below the belt.

And so Quigley, his management team at Sheer Sports, and Golden Boy were content to steer past the shortcut and return to their original path – one which they believe will lead to world honours for the Donegal middleweight regardless.

Nearly five months on from his stunning comeback finish of the never-before-stopped Daniel Rosario, Quigley is now gearing up for a more conventional ring return, the details of which will be revealed in the coming weeks.

Despite bouts of frustration in recent times as he saw his prospective breakout night go up in smoke, the fighter formerly known as ‘El Animal’ is keen to take only positives from having briefly flirted with title contention.

He’s grateful, too, that he could afford to remove himself from the protracted negotiation process.

“The only disappointment for me in all of this was missing out on a fight date in August,” he says. “I’m in good shape, I’m confident, and I’m sure that this has happened for the right reasons.

“It was a great experience to be in negotiations for a world title fight and to be on the cusp of going for a shot like that.

“I was in touch with sponsors and was even getting a suit sorted for a press conference in Tokyo to announce the fight.

“I had high hopes and was excited for going to Tokyo for the announcement, for my first title fight in Las Vegas and, of course, it was disappointing when I realised it wasn’t going to happen.

I believe that everything happens for a reason. Whatever path that’s laid out for me will fall into place, whether it’s God’s work or someone else up there. I do all the right things: I live a healthy lifestyle, I eat properly, I sleep right; I surround myself with good people. I think that can only come back to me in good ways.

“I have a good team of people around me – people I can trust to guide me. I’m lucky that I have such a good relationship with my management team, Sheer Sports, and my promoters, Golden Boy Promotions.

“They made a not-so-smooth situation seem smooth. And it wasn’t smooth – it was all over the place. It was on. Then it was off. Then I was going to Tokyo. Then I was staying at home. I had a good team around me who were keeping me right.”

Jason Quigley So close: Murata's team had even booked Quigley's flights to Tokyo to announce their ill-fated fight Source: Eoin Mundow/INPHO

In an interview with The42 back in February, Quigley hummed and hawed as to whether he’d agree to a world title fight so early into his career and, more pertinently, so soon after an injury which cost him a year’s worth of experience.

Granted, while formidable in his own right, Ryota Murata is a rung below Gennady Golovkin, Canelo Alvarez and Quigley’s gym-mate Billy Joe Saunders in the middleweight ladder, but when the phone did ring in reality Quigley stayed true to his answer then. In fact, he required less deliberation than he did during our hypothetical scenario six months ago.

The ideal new reality is that when it rings again, he’ll have another couple of scraps under his belt, more trust in his potent right hand, and more assurance – if indeed possible – that he’s ready to fulfil his lifelong promise.

“I wasn’t planning for it so soon, but when opportunities like that come along, you can’t not take them,” he says. “I took it and thought the title was there for the taking.

Ideally, I’d want another three or four fights, but I wasn’t going to say ‘no’. This is who I am and this is where I went to get to. It was always going to be difficult to say ‘no’ to a chance like that.

“This shows that I’m at the level to challenge for a world title,” he adds. “It’s great to be in that mix.”

The former Irish amateur star is already back in training camp with trainer Dominic Ingle in Sheffield, and is keen to make up for lost time.

His plan is to firmly establish himself in the world-title picture rather than gatecrash it, and his next step towards doing exactly that will be unveiled before long.

“I’m feeling sharp again,” Quigley says. “I’m ready to rock and roll. At this level, boxing moves quickly and you need to stay with the times and stay ready and active.

“We’re getting my next fight together and we’re well underway so there’ll be an announcement very shortly.”

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