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Jason Quigley: 'I'm Not Here To Make A Few Pound And Get By, I'm Here To Leave A Legacy'

Jason Quigley: 'I'm Not Here To Make A Few Pound And Get By, I'm Here To Leave A Legacy'
By Gavan Casey Updated

Ballybofey middleweight Jason Quigley faces by far the most stellar examination of his world-level credentials on May 7th, when he takes on dangerous Mexican James De La Rosa in Las Vegas.

'El Animal' will throw down with the 23-3 Mexican on the undercard of Canelo Alvarez's World title defence against Amir Khan, and the undefeated former amateur standout envisages the scrap as a potential breakout performance on a massive platform:

It's absolutely huge. I was talking to my management team and to Golden Boy about it. And they said, 'would you be ready to fight on May 7th?'

And I was like...'Hell yeah!'

That's the stage I'm ready to shine on. That's where I want to be. The T-Mobile Arena - it's going to be the first event there.

It's going to be the birth of the T-Mobile Arena, and it's also going to be the birth of Jason Quigley in Las Vegas; I'll be putting my name in there and flying that tricolour high.

In De La Rosa, Quigley faces a man who was stopped by the undefeated Hugo Centeno Jr in December 2014, but outpointed the concrete-fisted 'El Perro' Angulo just three months previous. It's a cleverly constructed yet potentially perilous litmus test for the 24-year-old, who still has just 10 professional fights to his name.

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But for a fighter of such relative inexperience in the professional ranks, the former World silver medallist and European champion is confident he can seize his chance with both fists as he aims to progress to the next stage of what surely promises to be an illustrious fight career.

This is my time. This is an opportunity that I'm very grateful to have gotten from Golden Boy and my management team at Sheer Sports. This is where I'm going to make my name and blow up on the boxing scene,

he says.

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I'm not in this to make a few pound or to get by. I'm not in it to win a few fights and just make a bit of a name for myself. I'm here to leave a legacy. I'm here to make a lot of noise, and that's the reason I came out here [to America].

If you're going to make it big, which I want to do, Vegas is the place: the capital of professional boxing.

This is where it all happens. And I want to get familiar with the surroundings, because this is somewhere I'm going to be fighting at the top, top level for years to come.

Even minus a Crumlin twang, you could be forgiven (by some) for believing such quotes might have emanated from Quigley's good friend in the UFC; incidentally, he told us two weeks ago that he'd be sure to tell his fellow Irishman what it was like to fight at the newly-opened T-Mobile Arena ahead of UFC 200 - a notion scuppered by last week's Ross-and-Rachel-type UFC bitch-off.

In The Notorious' absence, it will instead be El Animal who flies the Irish flag solo in Las Vegas this summer. But while Donegal's finest undoubtedly admires the featherweight champ from another combative code, he isn't one for getting carried away with himself.

His two-year spell in California has seen keep company with some of boxing's finest - Oscar De La Hoya, Bernard Hopkins, Andre Ward and those of a similar ilk - but Quigley explains that it's their grounded, out-of-ring personas and respective work ethics which have inspired him more so than their elite, in-ring abilities:

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To be honest, the biggest thing I take from it is how normal they are. I think a lot of kids growing up look at their idols - these top sportspeople - and you think there's something not human about them.

But you have to understand, these people are of course human; they have just worked their asses off and dedicated themselves to their craft or to their passion. And that's what so unbelievable.

They're down-to-earth, normal people. Of course you're given something to guide you in the direction of boxing or football or whatever you want to do. Everybody has a bit of a gift or a natural talent or so on. But it's all well and good having that - you need to work your ass off to make that better. And that's how you become the best in the world.

These are values which, when the time comes, the man from Tír Conaill says he's keen to pass on to the next generation back in his native land:

After this fight it'll be coming up to six months since I've been home [to Ireland]. But this is my job, this is what I've chosen to do, and whatever it takes I'm going to do it. Right now, it's taking being away for so long, and it's taking these training camps to get to the level I want to get to.

I'll always be a Donegal man. I'd love to have a fight back in Ireland - maybe at the end of this year or early next year. And I'd love to set a training camp in Ireland for everybody back home to see the work that goes in and, really, just to pay back to my town where I grew up and trained from day one.

I want kids at home to see me like I'm the fella who walked into the shop in front of them for a litre of milk and a packet of biscuits, and for them to think, 'now he's on tv all the time, all over the internet, a world champion - Jesus, he's unbelievable!' But then for me to be the exact same when I get home - maybe pop in for a bag of crisps and a cup of tea!

But it'd be great for them to be able to come into the gym one day and see that all it takes is a bit of hard work and dedication.

He maintains that his dream is to buy a house back in Donegal and another one in California, but Quigley's professional career to date has been almost a microcosm of the American Dream; success, a growing fanbase, good weather, a great team around him and - best of all - getting to watch fights with A.C. Slater from Saved By The Bell.

In that sense it's easy to understand why, despite a hugely successful amateur career, Quigley harbours no regrets about taking the plunge into the pro game in 2014, two years out from Rio where he likely would have been a medal favourite for Ireland:

Of course I'd love to go to wear an Irish vest going into the Olympic Games, but that's only going to be something I feel when the Olympics are on. I made my mind up to turn professional, and if I had to go back and make my mind up again about it, it'd be a lot easier knowing how things have turned out!

After London, and with the last two years I've had, there wouldn't have been a question in my mind about it. Of course there's going to be a little niggle inside my belly watching people boxing for Ireland at the Olympics. You know, it's more of a pride and an honour thing - to be wearing your vest at the Olympic Games and representing your country.

But at the end of the day I'm getting into that ring, every fight, and representing my country. I'm a very proud Irish man, I wear my colours with pride. And I get in through those ropes every time to do my nation, and the people who follow me, proud.

I wish the lads all the best in the Olympic Games - I'll be cheering every one of them on. And I can guarantee you there's going to be a gold - if not two or three golds - coming back with Team Ireland. It's going to be absolutely unbelievable.

Before Rio, it will be Ireland's other Golden Boy who faces his biggest test on May 7th; another rung on the ladder en route to further vindication of his decision to drop the vest and migrate west.

Quigley vs De La Rosa will one of the final fights shown live during the free part of HBO's Canelo - Khan PPV in the USA, and will hopefully also be shown on BoxNation's broadcast in Ireland and the UK, with details to be finalised.

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