On a mission
Scott Quigg has an unquenchable desire to reach the top of the tree. On the eve of his bid to become WBA super-bantamweight champion, he told skysports.com how he was driven to succeed from a young age.
By Adam Norman: Twitter @SkySportsNorm. Last Updated: 02/10/13 2:56pm
Scott Quigg is a man on a mission. That mission is to become world champion, and is one that has consumed him from the day he took up boxing.
You will rarely see a young man as driven and focused as the Bury super-bantamweight, and that's saying something in a sport that attracts a special kind of person.
Quigg has barely spent a day out of the gym in the 10 years since he quit school early, with the support of his parents. He is, in his own words, 'a freak'.
"I'll be even sharper and more ready. I don't think I could get any more fit. I'm a freak. I just need to to stay focused for another week."
So after 27 professional fights, in addition to just 12 in the unpaid ranks, Quigg, who will turn 25 just four days after his fight with Yoandris Salinas, finds himself fighting for the WBA title.
It comes a week after it should have taken place, the fight initially slated as chief support to Haye-Fury in Manchester, but after the path Quigg has trodden he will not be upset by the delay.
"You've got to make the most of it and adapt to situations," he told Sky Sports. "It's a week delay and it gives me more time to prepare. People are affected by delays if they've struggled to do the weight, and held it there too long.
"I live the life, my weight's always spot on. It's just about having a couple of days' rest and then stepping it back up. I'll be even sharper and more ready. I don't think I could get any more fit. I'm a freak. I just need to to stay focused for another week."
Quigg's somewhat unorthodox climb through the ranks can be attributed to an earlier incarnation in the world of Thai kick-boxing, which gave him the experience to make an early move into the paid ranks.
So despite a lack of amateur experience it doesn't concern him that his Cuban opponent was exceptional in headguard and vest.
"I was a very good footballer, everyone thought I was going to make it professionally, as a youngster I had a lot of trials," he said of his early-teens.
"I was at Burnley for a year but they let me go because of my size. But right from back then I was a bit of snapper, I loved a tussle, loved boxing and watching the big fights.
"I started thai-boxing and was winning junior titles, and I thought if I keep getting knock-backs at football at least I've got something to fall back on.
"I only went to the thai-boxing gym because it was closer than the boxing gym. But I had a couple of amateur fights and it just snowballed from there. After a few fights I went into the junior ABAs, I won them and I've never looked back since.
"I had 12 amateur fights. But I'd had 69 thai-boxing fights and won 67, so I'd been in the ring for a long time and my style was already suited to the professionals.
"I was training with Brian Hughes and we took it slowly on the small circuit to learn my craft, I went to America a few times and that's where I managed to gain experience that I didn't have from the amateurs.
"The styles at the time were totally different. Amateurs now are getting more like the professionals but back then it was different, and I couldn't have started my career with anyone better than Brian. He taught me the foundations, the skill and heart of boxing."
Fighting five times a year, Quigg soon started getting the attention of fans and critics alike. His progress was swift and at one point he had won nine consecutive fights inside the distance. By then he had already gained recognition with the WBA.
"The rate at which I progressed was a lot more than people would have thought," he said. "But I lived in the gym, lived and breathed the sport and paid for myself to go to America. Getting the right sparring got me ready for the step up.
"Santiago Allione had been in with some decent people but I stopped him in three and I was stopping guys quicker than what those decent fighters had. So you could gauge how you were progressing like that.
"But I was living in the gym - I'd go down there on a Sunday and practice one punch for an hour and a half, and that's what you have to do. That's why Floyd Mayweather is at the top, the way he trains and lives his life."
Then, at 22 and on a roll, he suffered his first setback.
"I felt I was better than Nishioka and I didn't get out of second gear. That's no disrespect to Munroe, he's a top quality fighter."
"I was supposed to be on the Amir Khan-Paul McCloskey show but went over on my ankle and injured my hand, and was out for more than six months and it was the most frustrating period of my career.
"I was young, feeling down and it was a really hard patch."
But when he returned to the ring it was like he had never been away, flooring Franklin Varela with a body shot before forcing veteran Jason Booth to retire on his stool.
Quigg was closing in on the big time as he set about sweeping through the domestic scene, victories over Jamie Arthur and Rendall Munroe proving his superiority over the best Britain had to offer, although neither fight was without its dramas.
"Against Arthur I wasn't hurt in the slightest, I was off balance and it was more of a push than anything," he said of the fourth round knockdown. "But if it was a big puncher it was a shot that could have landed, and you can't switch off. I got my feet caught under each other and that squared me up.
"I thought 'no way, this is on Sky'. But I knew he would come at me and it was the worst thing he could have done and he gassed himself out. It was just one of those things.
"With Munroe I knew what happened in the second fight would have happened in the first. I started the same way, I took my time and we clashed heads. But that gave me more time to prepare, we brought some better sparring in and concentrated on pure boxing.
"I saw what Toshiaki Nishioka had done to him and I felt I was better than Nishioka and I didn't get out of second gear. That's no disrespect to Munroe, he's a top quality fighter, but I made the fight so simple."
Then came another big setback just when his career had terrific momentum - promoter Ricky Hatton lost his TV dates with Sky. It meant Quigg was left in limbo.
"The Hattons lost the TV dates and it stalled my career, he said. "It was unfortunate and I'm very thankful for what they did. But it was time to make a change, and with the move to Matchroom I couldn't be with a better promoter at the minute.
"You can't feel sorry for yourself, as soon as you do you start going into a hole. Depression is rife in boxing, but it's a man's sport and no-one will admit to it. Once you start going down that road, you go down very, very fast, and it's the slowest climb back out.
"That's why the first lay-off I had was harder, with this one I had been there before. I was in the gym, working. In seven months out the ring I had three takeaways. That's the focus I have. If I'd have gone off the rails I'd have wasted time that I couldn't get back."
However, as you would expect for one so level-headed, Quigg has taken the positives from his enforced hiatus, and after blowing away William Prado on his June return he believes he is better than ever.
"That eight months out of the ring means I'm eight months stronger, eight months more mature," he added. "I'm even more mentally mature. So I take the positives from that.
"Salinas is a very good fighter. He had 300 wins as an amateur, I had 12. But that doesn't strike any fear into me. He was an amateur when it was a totally different sport to the professionals.
"He's got a good reputation in the gyms in America, but we've studied him and we know what he's good at and what's he's bad at. I'm 100 per cent confident I can handle what he's good at, and make him pay for his mistakes.
"He's going to have to worry about me. As long as I turn up 100 percent, focused and defensively tight, I'll win that fight. At this moment I'm fully confident I'm the best fighter I can be at this stage. I can still improve, but at the minute this is the best Scott Quigg there's ever been. That's why I'm confident I can go in there and do it."
And for the fans who have supported him throughout his career, Quigg wants to make the late switch from the Manchester Arena to the O2 in London as easy as possible.
"I've put coaches on for my fans, who have followed me from the start. Money's tight and it's not a cheap day out. I couldn't ask for better fans so I put coach travel on so as many people can come down as they can.
"Tickets have gone great and if they buy them from my nan's chippy they get a free portion of chips!"