Everything came down to Peter Quillin’s eyes.
Fans at the Barclays Center and watching on television were expecting a middleweight war between two Brooklyn fighters, and were outraged when the fight lasted 85 seconds.
Quillin had obviously been badly hurt, but how can you stop a fight when Daniel Jacobs hadn’t even knocked him down? It was the same question that the Showtime announcers asked until they saw the replay. In that moment, they all changed their minds.
In the first minute of the fight, Quillin threw a lazy jab and Jacobs countered with an overhead right that caught “Kid Chocolate” clean. He lurched back into the ropes, and Jacobs waded him, firing away with both hands. It was a little sloppy, reminiscent of Tommy Hearns trying to finish Roberto Duran, but it worked. Jacobs ignored token attempts at holding or fighting back and finally landed two clean rights to the head.
The second sent Quillin reeling back – his legs gone. He grabbed at a ring rope to prevent himself from going down, and wobbled back into a corner. When Harvey Dock got to him, he was standing upright, but his posture was that of a man at sea, trying to keep his balance as the waves crash into the ship.
Still, a lot of referees would have given a top-ranked fighter a chance to continue, but Dock was focused on Quillin’s eyes. They were wide open and completely blank. He stared off into the distance – perhaps watching Jacobs – as Dock spoke to him. When Dock didn’t get any answers or even a response, he did the right thing and stopped the fight.
The people protesting the quick stoppage needed to keep watching. When Dock stopped the fight, not only did Quillin not protest, he didn’t seem to realize what had happened. He was gently guided to his corner and seated on his stool, where doctors and trainers worked on him for several minutes as Jacobs celebrated.
Even in his post-fight interview with Jim Gray, who did his usual job of trying to start controversies that don’t exist, Quillin humbly and gracefully accepted the defeat and praised Jacobs – a friend since their days in the Brooklyn Gold Gloves tournaments. He never questioned the stoppage, although he still didn’t seem completely clear with what happened.
That’s something you see a lot with boxers who have just been knocked out. They know they lost the fight – they’ve been told that much by their trainers – but they are very foggy about the details. It is an interview that Gray craves, hoping to get a juicy quote from a groggy fighter, but it rarely works out for him.
During his interview, Jacobs said that his management team would decide his next fight, but if it were up to him, he’d be happy to give Quillin an immediate rematch.
When Quillin was asked about a rematch, though, he said he needs to talk things over with his family and his advisors about what he should do next. He certainly didn’t sound like someone who wanted to jump right back into the ring with Jacobs.
That’s the right move, too. Until 2015, Quillin had cruised through the middleweight division. He won the WBO title in 2012, and never lost it in the ring. This year, though, he has fought a brutal draw with Andy Lee, a fight that saw him knocked down for the first time in his career, and after an easy knockout of Michael Zerafa, he got blown out of the ring Saturday night in his hometown.
What he needs right now is some time off, and then to take a step back down the ladder. His next couple fights should be against lowly ranked contenders – guys he can take apart like he did with Zerafa. Give him two easier fights – maybe even three – and build himself back up for a rematch with Jacobs. Two Brooklyn fighters are going to pack the Barclays Center whether it is in the spring or late 2016, and Quillin needs to regain his confidence.
It is a tough loss, but it might be good for him. He got another lesson about the hard times in the sport, and he can take a step back as Jacobs, Gennady Golovkin and Canelo Alvarez try to sort out the top of the 160-pound division. By the time he’s back, there might be one champion instead of three.