It’s often said that nothing you say, or write, can hit you harder than life.
That goes for whether you’re working a job to make ends meet, or a former WBO world champion trying to recapture what you fought so hard to get.
As Peter Quillin prepares to take center stage against Caleb Truax on April 13th at The Armory in Minneapolis, Minnesota, he said he doesn’t know how it came about or if it was something that his manager felt would be a good fight to take. But, as Quillin tells it, this was designed by God.
“I feel as if it’s being guided. Every fight feels like God is directing my path,” he said. “I don’t sit saying ‘I need to fight him or I need to fight him’, I feel that every fight is divinely chosen for me and this fight is no different.”
There is history between these two fighters as two of boxing’s premiere fighters were once sparring partners. Both will soon go head-to-head in Truax’s backyard of Minnesota. As we’ve seen in past fights, the hometown kid will normally get the advantage in the scorecards against the opposing fighter.
However, Quillin doesn’t feel that will help Truax in this fight.
“What’s the backyard, what’s that really going to do?” Quillin stated. “Does that mean someone is taking the punch for him? Are you fighting for yourself or are you fighting for other people?”
“My whole life even being in my backyard I felt like I was a distant stranger,” he continued. “I’ve been in this thing more than enough times to know that I’m hoping to go out there and have a good fight.”
Fighting to become a Man
Quillin has accumulated over 30 fights in his career and has squared off against some of the best the sport has to offer. Yet, the biggest adversary that Quillin has had to face is that of life. Sometimes he’s been victorious, other times has been hit with a punch to the gut, but since his childhood he’s continued to fight.
In a post-fight interview after winning the title against then undefeated Hassan N’Dam N’Jikam in 2012, Quillin had thanked the state of Michigan for making him a fighter and New York for making him a man, two states that were pivotal in his maturation process in becoming a man and one of boxing’s best.
Quillin grew up in Grand Rapids, Michigan where he says he learned what struggling felt like. His father, who gave him the nickname “Kid Chocolate” and his love for boxing, was known throughout the city as one of the top drug dealers. However, once his father had went to prison, his mother began to hang around men that he felt were not good examples for him in his maturation process in becoming a man.
It was at that moment that Quillin felt he needed to make a change and a better life for himself.
“I had to reconstruct bad examples and turn them into good examples for myself,” Quillin said.
Not too long after, Quillin moved to New York. However, it didn’t mean that everything was green grass and blue skies; it was just be a different kind of struggle. Quillin lived in two different projects in the New York area and would also spend time in Bedford-Stuyvesant in Brooklyn, working multiple jobs to make ends meet and continue to hone his boxing skills, awaiting his shot at the big time. Yet through that struggle, Quillin was happy to call New York home.
“All these years I’ve been here I have built up some healthy relationships with people,” he said. “All my man hood came from being here. Being in a new culture and learning how to adapt to that.”
Fighting to become Champion
Quillin climbed up the boxing ranks as a fighter, going 13-0 and winning 14 of his first 17 bouts by KO. Quillin became world champion in 2012 after defeating N’Jikam and successfully defended his title three times before relinquishing the title in 2014, saying that he didn’t feel that it was fair that he didn’t have a say in when and where he could fight after climbing the mountain to get to where he was.
He had a conversation with boxing manager Al Haymon, who told him that boxing was a business and that unfortunately they controlled where and when he fought. In addition, if he chose to forgo a title defense, they were in their rights to take away his title. Quillin felt that it wasn’t right and made the decision to vacate the title.
“He explained to me what was going to happen and I was willing to go through the consequences of that,” said Quillin. “That I was being criticized and I’m still being criticized.”
Although he understood the repercussions of giving up his title, he still feels uneasy about the criticism that he gets for doing it because so many of his counterparts have done it in the past.
“If you notice, Canelo has done it in his career and Gennady Golovkin has done it in his career. Why when a black fighter does it it’s a problem?” Quillin stated.
Fighting to save Himself
Life would put Quillin against the ropes as he would face one of the toughest challenges in his life. After he won the title, Quillin says that those were some of the darker moments in his life.
“I started to notice changes,” he said. “I noticed that I got depressed trying to make everyone happy and not being able to say no to people. Me and my wife started to have big problems.”
“I felt disconnected to people and couldn’t trust anyone. I started getting demonic visions about suicide.”
Quillin and his wife separated for a period while she was pregnant because she was tired of him being around people that weren’t any good for him. This led him to only dig himself into a deeper hole and be around more people that were only making his situation worse.
From there he would begin soul searching. He began writing in a journal of every bad vision that he had written down and showing it to a therapist, realizing that not only was his marriage was something he needed to work on, but he himself. As he began looking for answers to find peace, his therapist told him that, “The battle is real but so is the victory”.
It was something that would change Quillin for the better.
“I don’t know why, but in that moment it all made sense to me,” Quillin stated. “I still don’t even know what that means, I just remember that it was so powerful when he said it. It was like God was dwelling in that. It brought me peace.”
Fighting to share his Message
It has been said that it takes time to find your purpose and why it is so.
Before taking this fight, Quillin had been under the radar for almost a year with the birth of his daughter and hasn’t fought since defeating J’Leon Love by unanimous decision in 2018. Now back and looking better than ever, he feels that he has found his why in the second half stretch in his career.
“What I want to do in this part of my career is not for myself,” he said. “First I had told myself I had to fight for myself before I could fight for anyone else. Since I’ve conquered learning how to fight for myself, I was like I was only made so strong fighting for myself, how could I be a stronger fighter for others?”
“This part of my career is servitude toward others,” he continued. “Being able to put out a good message. I’m going to align the fact that God is dwelling within me when I put out these messages.”
The 35-year-old Quillin understands that there is a lot that is riding on this fight with the winner possibly earning consideration for a title shot, something that many would think would be the biggest fight of one’s life. However, Quillin is trying to fight for something much more than a title. And is at peace with what whatever happens.
“The will I used to have isn’t mine anymore, it’s the will of God’s,” he stated. “Whatever He wants to do, whatever the plan and situation He’s got, I have no fear in it.”
“I can guarantee it’ll be an entertaining fight for the Minnesota fans and the world of boxing showcasing live and direct on FS1,” Quillin continued. “I’ll be able to go out there and accomplish my mission which is putting out the solid message that I got.”
You can watch the match on FS1 & FOX Deportes (10 p.m. ET/9 p.m. CT).