A former owner of the WBO 160lb strap now owned by Lee, Quillin vacated that title rather than face then mandatory challenger, dangerous Russian Matty Korobov, and was heavily criticised at the time for turning down a career best purse. Purse bids for that fight were won by Jay Z’s outfit Roc Nation Sports, and the decision for Quillin to vacate was rumoured to have been ordered by Haymon as Quillins “adviser” based on the fact that Jay Z and Haymon had an existing feud from their previous dealings in the music industry.
All very murky, yet this weekend Quillin’s status as an elite fighter will be tested when he faces the man who ended up knocking out Korobov in 6 rounds after being behind on the cards, and for this writer it will be the toughest test of his career.
Lee has built something of a reputation for highlight reel knockouts, showing an ability to adapt in a fight and find a way to win when under pressure. His knockout of John Jackson certainly evidenced this and for me he has faced the sterner career tests.
Lee was once under the tutelege of legendary trainer Manny Steward at his Kronk Gym and struggled to adapt following his passing, though a hook up with master tactitian and former trainer of David Haye and George Groves, Adam Booth, has breathed new life into his career.
Ahead of the fight with Quillin he told FightHype.com
“We’ve made physical and tactical improvements over the last year and hopefully they show up in ring on Saturday”
With Booth in the corner, a man noted for having a sound game plan, Lee can be confident of that. He continued.
“It could be technical, it could be a fire fight. Perhaps a little of both at times, but once we trade, it’s gonna get explosive”
What version of Quillin we see on Saturday night remains to be seen but I hope it isn’t the one who fought the faded Lukas Konency, or the one who struggled at times with Gabriel Rosado, who now plies his trade in the BKB “pit”. I’m hoping the Quillin who was involved in that 6 knockdown thriller with Hassan N’Dam turns up because then I think the quotes from Andy Lee could become prophetic.
One man watching closely will be Britain’s unbeaten ex-Olympian Billy Joe Saunders, who holds mandatory status for the WBO strap. His eyes will surely be on a Lee victory as that will then set up a late Summer super fight on British soil, that will be historic in that two travellers will be fighting for a world title for the very first time.
Brits will be praying Kid Chocolate doesn’t throw a spanner in the works, because then it will be another British fighter having to travel and turn road warrior as Kell Brook did and James DeGale intends on doing. Lee v Saunders is the fight the UK fans are calling for. Saunders V Quillin in America? No thanks, we’ll pass….