Hardly a day goes by without one reading in the Irish media (including boxing websites and forums) that one or more of Paddy Barnes, Michael Conlan, Jason Quigley, and/or Joe Ward is about to turn professional and follow in the footsteps of Carl Frampton and more recently John Joe Nevin , Tommy McCarthy and Conrad Cummins.
Here is but a small selection of recent media speculation:
Current speculation centres on AIBA World Silver medallist Jason Quigley. The fact that he has not entered this month’s Irish Elites has given rise to numerous headlines ‘announcing;’ his imminent departure:
DONEGAL NEWS: Tinseltown Beckons for Jason Quigley with respected Donegal sport journalist Chris McNulty surmising on 20th Feb : “The 22-year old Finn Valley ABC clubman is set to make the move into the professional ranks and the World silver medallist’s most likely destination appears to be ‘Tinseltown’, with an alignment to Oscar De La Hoya’s ‘Golden Boy Promotions’ expected to be confirmed by the middle of next week.”
THESCORE.IE : A day earlier than Chris McNulty’s informative article, TheScore.ie had this banner headline : “Jason Quigley even more likely to turn pro after surrendering his national title” adding “Quigley, the current world number two, has been courted by a number of promoters following an explosive year in 2013 and has made no secret of his pro ambitions. His camp were unavailable for comment when contacted by TheScore.ie last night”.
IRISH DAILY STAR: That doyen of Irish boxing scribes Gerry Callan is quite sure that Quigley will turn pro. Said The Star recently: “JASON Quigley is turning professional in America — and getting a six-figure signing-on fee from the biggest name in professional boxing” .The reigning European middleweight champion and World Championships silver medallist failed to meet the entry deadline for the start of the Irish Daily Star Elite National Championships and is set to sign on the dotted line with one of the biggest promotional outfits in boxing.
Quigley and his father and trainer Conor are in negotiations with both Oscar De La Hoya’s Golden Boy Promotions and Top Rank, the company headed by veteran fight impresario Bob Arum.
At least three other major players had their hat in the ring for the race to sign Quigley”.
BELFAST TELEGRAPH: Headlined “Absent Quigley Fuels Pro Rumours”, the BelTel went on: “The 22-year-old missed Tuesday’s 6.00pm deadline to enter the championships and the 75kg Irish title is now vacant.
Quigley’s no-show indicates that the world No 2 and European No 1 is about to join the pro ranks”.
BUT is there not another possibility ? Yes, that Jason WILL remain with the IABA/AIBA, take part in the APB Semi-Pro boxing league and remain eligible for the Olympics.
According to the AIBA, ‘the APB competition format offers multi-level fight opportunities, in National, Continental, and World Level competitions while maintaining the opportunity to compete in the Olympic Games’.
Jason Quigley, at 22, is a huge future talent and it is essential that Ireland retains his services and those of such as Paddy Barnes, Michael Conlan and Joe Ward.
That the situation is now as it is speaks volumes about the lack of initiative shown since London 2012 ,by the IABA especially and to a lesser extent by the AIBA.
Clearly, as I have written in these columns for well over a year now, the IABA Executive simply “lost its way”. The Executive remained truly “amateur” in an era when the AIBA was moving more and more – quite openly – towards being more ‘professional’. Things are beginning to change under the leadership of new CEO, Fergal Carruth but
For Quigley it may be a case of being ‘too little,too late’.Fergal Carruth cannot just wave a magic wand.
That is not to say that the IABA volunteers have not served their country well,for indeed they have a proud record, but that was when “amateur” boxing was indeed amateur . That was then and this is now and hopefully under new Chief Executive, Fergal Carruth the Association will soon reorganise. Indeed as the Irish Sports Council noted recently there are already encouraging signs. Time though is against them. Already such as John Joe Nevin, Tommy McCarthy and Conrad Cummins have been lost to the ‘amateur’ sport.
In a ‘rare and highly unusual’ departure from its normal protocols, the AIBA’s Communications Director, Sébastien Gillot spoke recently with ‘The Irish Examiner’ and his frustration was clearly evident.
Gillot said: “We are targeting Irish boxers. Unfortunately none of them have signed.
“We were very close to signing one — John Joe Nevin. Basically, we had the contracts signed from his part and everything was ready from our part.
“Basically the problem we had with Nevin is the IABA took a little time to review the contract, a little bit too much time I would say, and in the end, by the time we were receiving the feedback from the Irish federation, he had signed pro already. So that was a bit of a disappointment. We would sometimes like to have a little bit more support from the IABA.
“We have a list of targets — we are really interested in Joe Ward, Conlan, Quigley, Barnes and McCarthy.
“And, as I explained, we have to go through the federation but unfortunately it hasn’t always been easy with the IABA.”
Gillot went on to explain that ‘APB executives visited Ireland in 2012 to brief IABA officials on the new format, but have since been disappointed by a lack of cooperation in Dublin’
In recent days however SportsNewsIreland understands that the APB have been in touch with the Quigley camp in a last minute effort to try and persuade the Finn Valley boxer and his Dad and Coach, Conor to remain within the AIBA Family. After all Conor himself qualified as an AIBA 3 Star coach late last year.
Recently Jason was awarded the maximum Irish Sports Council funding of 40,000 Euros – on Quigley’s 2013 form and bearing in mind his age, it would appear that the future is Golden for him whatever he chooses but at 22, there are many who feel he would be best served by remaining with the IABA/AIBA until after Rio when hopefully his CV would include an Olympic medal, possibly Gold. Rio after all is now but 2 years away and in the meantime there are European and World championships to capture.
Whilst Quigley’s future remains in doubt it is expected that the APB will sign up Conlan,Ward and Barnes for the APB series commencing in June. One cannot rule out the possibility that the AIBA may opt to “soften” some of their recently introduced rules and allow boxers like them compete in future European and World championships even if they are part of APB.
Irrespective though of what any of them does let us hope that they all recognise the great debt they owe, if not to the IABA then most certainly to the High Performance Unit
Head Coach Billy Walsh and assistants like Zauri Antia, Eddie Bolger, Pete Taylor and others .
They (as much as their own coaches) are the ones who have helped them achieve the International successes they have had, doing all the hard work behind the scenes, watching videos of their opponents day and night to help prepare them for World and European championships.
Walsh and Company deserve better than to be kept in the dark by boxers they have done their utmost to help become the heroes of Irish ‘amateur’ boxing that they are today.
It would not be amiss to remember the words of Carl Frampton, now so successful in the pro ranks and on the way surely to a world pro title in the near future, when asked by ‘The Examiner’ if he had any regrets about turning Pro : “…..I regret not telling Billy Walsh before I signed to go pro, I feel like I went behind his back. That still bothers me.”
At this time the odds are still that Jason Quigley will turn pro, and we wish him well whatever his decision, but as the old saying goes : “The opera ain’t over until the fat lady sings.”
Here courtesy of DonegalTV.ie and AIBATV is Jason talking about his AIBA World silver medal and the great reception he has received in his native county.