This fight was intriguing to me the moment it was announced. It’s one of those crossroads fights in boxing that you feel compelled to tune in to. Middleweight is a talent-packed division right now. The top 10 at the weight consists of names like Canelo Alvarez, Gennady Golovkin, Daniel Jacobs, Jermall Charlo, David Lemieux, Demetrius Andrade, Sergiy Derevyanchenko, and the list goes on. It’s a profitable weight class to be in if you’re looking to score big fights. Golden Boy’s Main Event on July 18th between Jason Quigley and Tureano Johnson could be a career-defining fight for either combatant.
This fight could serve as a launching pad toward mainstream attention and high-profile match-ups in a super hot division. So, let’s talk about the combatants, and let’s talk about the reasons why.
Ireland’s Jason Quigley is a blue-chip prospect, there’s no way around it. With an amateur record of 240-10, including Gold medals at multiple European Amateur Championships and a Silver Medal at the 2013 World Amateur Championships, how could he not be? He started his pro career off running through opponents like a hot knife through butter, finishing his first 8 opponents inside the distance. Even early on, one thing was clear, Quigley had pop in his punches.
Quigley has gained some real popularity within the boxing community with his amateur pedigree, exciting style, and championship potential. But he has yet to move the needle on a mainstream level. This will be Quigley’s fourth time main-eventing Golden Boy’s ESPN series and with each fight his following has steadily grown a little bit more. An impressive win here could go a long way toward raising Quigley’s profile and giving him a high-ranking within boxing’s major sanctioning bodies. A high enough ranking, perhaps, to secure a title shot. Quigley’s professional record currently sits at 16-0, with 12 KO’s. A 17-0 record would look very pretty on paper.
Nassau, Bahama’s Tureano Johnson, like Quigley, has an impressive amateur resume. He represented the Bahamas at the 2008 Olympics, fighting at Welterweight and winning two fights in the tournament before losing to Kazakhstan’s Kanat Islam. He turned pro two years later in 2010 and won his first 5 fights by knockout. Johnson’s first real step-up in competition came when he was 14-0 and took a fight with noted left-hook knockout-artist Curtis Stevens on PBC on NBC. This was Johnson’s first opportunity to impress on mainstream television.
Although Johnson gave a great performance, winning almost every round in the fight, it all fell apart for Johnson when Stevens caught him clean with a short-left hook in the 10th and final round that had Tureano on wobbly legs. The follow-up punches forced referee Gary Rosato to call a halt to the contest, handing Tureano Johnson his first loss. A 10th round TKO in a fight he was winning. He bounced back well, winning his next 6 fights in a row, one of them being an exciting, high-action contest against Eamonn O’kane in Madison Square Garden on the PPV undercard of Golovkin vs. Lemieux.
Unfortunately for Johnson, his pro career has stalled as of late. Due to problems with his right shoulder. He has only fought 3 times in the last 3 years, winning only one of those fights. His other two results being a 12th round TKO loss to Sergiy Derevyanchenko and a surprising split draw in February of this year against Fernando Castaneda. Johnson has an exciting style and he gives it his all in every single fight, wearing his heart on his sleeve. But the results haven’t quite been there, and he’s come up short in all the fights that could have catapulted him to the next level. He needs to score a big win to breathe some life back into his career if he is to be a relevant fighter.
Quigley needs this victory to prove himself as a legitimate threat to the titleholders at Middleweight. Johnson, at 35 years old, needs this victory in order to rescue his career as a relevant fighter and perhaps earn himself a big money fight. It’s an interesting fight from these perspectives alone, but besides the narratives, this fight is intriguing from a pure action standpoint as well. That’s because of the styles of the two fighters. Now that we know the fighters and what’s at stake, let’s talk about how the fight itself might play out.
We’ve all heard the old adage, styles make fights. Well the styles of these two fighters suggests that this particular match-up, especially in the early rounds, could be explosive. Jason Quigley is probably the favorite to win here, and that makes sense. He’s the blue-chip prospect, he’s younger, he has career momentum, he has shown less defensive vulnerability in his fights overall, he’s probably the bigger puncher, and he’s got the better footwork. He’s an overwhelming favorite here, but that’s definitely no guarantee, especially when you take into consideration just exactly how their styles match-up…
Jason Quigley was an elite amateur, amateur bouts are only 3 rounds, maybe 4 on rare occasions, so elite amateurs know how to start fast. Quigley likes to start very fast and establish his offense right away. He’ll work from long range with his sharp jabs and straight right hands, or he’ll choose to shoot a crisp lead left hook to close the distance. Of the 12 stoppages Quigley has, 11 of those came in 3 rounds or less. He is dangerous early, and he’s not shy about letting his power shots go. He has educated hands; his offense is very creative. Which is what you’d expect from someone who’s had 250 amateur fights.
There’s a lot to like about Quigley, he is light on his feet and effective with sharp straight punches from long range. He is effective with creative combinations and damaging hooks to the head and body at mid-range. But for all there is to like about Quigley and his potential, he is certainly not without his flaws as a fighter. No fighter is perfect, and for Quigley there are still some glaring flaws that he has shown in the past that could potentially make this fight very interesting indeed. Allow me to explain.
Amateur boxing is a sprint. At the elite level of amateur boxing you have to know how to carry a high pace for 3 or 4 rounds, as explained earlier. For those 3 or 4 rounds you have to be the most active, most effective, most accurate fighter. Quigley was an elite amateur, and he is all of those things…for about 3 or 4 rounds. It’s become a noticeable pattern in his previous fights against James De La Rosa, Glen Tapia, and Freddy Hernandez. In all three performances, Quigley’s work rate and technique seemed to take a huge dip in the middle of the fight.
Of course, in the Glen Tapia fight, Quigley was a one-handed fighter for the last eight rounds. He sustained a horrific right-hand injury in the second round of that bout. That was likely a huge contributor in Quigley’s ability to keep a high work rate and be comfortable in the fight. However, this has shown up in the De La Rosa bout and particularly the Freddy Hernandez bout in October of last year as well. Quigley’s fatigue starts to become obvious. His hands drop, he starts breathing from his mouth, his punches lose steam, and defensive flaws begin to show up.
This hasn’t been an issue that Quigley has had huge troubles with. In each performance he was able to keep a respectable enough offense to ward off his opponents. And he was able to catch a second wind by the later rounds (rds. 8-10) that allowed him to use his cute boxing to seal the victory in each bout. Johnson, however, is a different challenge altogether. Quigley is comfortable at long range, where he can control the pace of the fight, and mid-range, where he has enough room to make his power hooks effective.
One thing that has consistently made Quigley uncomfortable, though, is when his opponents decide to up the pressure and force their way into close range. In the middle rounds of his fight against Freddy Hernandez, it seemed in rounds 6-7 that Quigley might be starting to fall apart entirely. After a dominant first four rounds, Quigley’s body language began to reflect that of a winded fighter. Hernandez, the crafty veteran, was able to put Quigley under pressure, fight at a pace that Quigley couldn’t match (at least at the time) and land effective punches inside.
This is where Johnson’s fighting style could prove to be Quigley’s undoing if he isn’t focused and careful. If there’s anything that Tureano Johnson knows how to do, it’s carry a high pace. Despite the fact that he is 3 inches shorter than Quigley, Johnson has a 2-inch reach advantage, but that likely won’t be a factor in the fight because of the way Tureano Johnson fights. He isn’t effective at long range or really even mid-range.
When Tureano Johnson is at his best he will take a wide stance, hands held high, and bury his head in his opponent’s chest. He smothers their offense, while he is able to use his physical strength to back them up and land fast, sharp hooks and uppercuts up close. Like Quigley, Johnson was an elite amateur and knows how to start fast. Ideally, he’ll force this type of fight from the opening bell to the last second of the fight. Against opponents like Eamonn O’kane, Johnson has been able to overwhelm and overpower with his constant and suffocating offense.
What has let Johnson down in the past has been his defense, or lack thereof. He has very little head movement, he likes to walk in without jabbing, which opens him up to counters coming in. He’s at his safest when he’s up close, in the pocket, but even when he is there, his defense isn’t impenetrable. He is honestly very easy to find at all times throughout the fight. In this matchup, this could prove to be a double-edged sword for Jason Quigley.
On one hand Quigley is a fast starter who likes to come right out of the gate throwing power punches. Johnson is the exact same way, only his defense is considerably more leaky. Both fighters will look to throw bombs early which could lead to some truly exciting exchanges. Quigley is going to find Johnson with his power punches easily early on. This could result in a quick win for Quigley if he can hurt Johnson and pour the punches on to get the finish.
On the other hand, Stevens and Derevyanchenko are considerable punchers as well. They found Johnson’s chin and body with their power punches and combinations early and often throughout their fights with him. It still took them until the last round to take Johnson out. Even against power punchers it generally takes time for the damage to accumulate to the point where Johnson is ready to go. He has remarkable powers of recovery. Both Stevens and Derevyanchenko were clearly able to hurt Tureano several times in the early and mid-rounds of their respective bouts, but it took the whole fight for it to affect him.
In both cases Tureano was able to weather the storm and come back with considerable firepower of his own. Neither fighter will give any quarter. Quigley showed amazing heart winning 8 rounds with a broken hand, and everyone knows that Johnson doesn’t know the meaning of the word quit. But Quigley’s ability to find Johnson early on with power punches could mean that he’ll throw the kitchen sink at Johnson once he hurts him for the first time. Jason Quigley has had a habit of getting stuck into wars when he starts to find his opponents often with big punches.
Sometimes this pays off and he is able to score the stoppage. Other times it leads to him looking uncomfortable and a bit disorganized in the middle rounds when he starts to gas out. If he starts to fatigue against Johnson, a fighter who’s fighting style is best compared to an unrelenting hurricane, he’ll be in trouble. Johnson isn’t the biggest puncher, but he can wear you down with constant punishment. Johnson could make Quigley look bad, and very possibly get the victory here. If he is able to walk through Quigley’s punches and get himself into close range where he can exploit Quigley’s defensive deficiencies to do some good work, he could change his whole career around.
Then again, Johnson’s own defense certainly doesn’t improve as a fight goes on. He was stopped in the very last round in both of his stoppage losses. It’s also possible that Quigley could get a second wind after a torrid middle of the fight and come back to stop Johnson. Nobody can truly predict how this fight will go. What we know for sure is that power punches will be exchanged, defense won’t be perfect, and neither fighter will back down an inch. This has the makings of a stellar fight action-wise, and a very important fight for the future of the Middleweight division.
The winner of this fight will likely be in a good position to challenge Ryota Murata for the WBA World Middleweight Title. Irish boxing is currently booming, producing legitimate blue-chip prospects like Aaron McKenna, Michael Conlan, Lewis Crocker, and many others. If he wants to cement his status as the leader of that pack and maintain the current best undefeated record in Irish boxing at 17-0, Jason Quigley needs to look impressive in this fight against Johnson.
If Johnson wants to resurrect his career as a legitimate threat to the top fighters in the division, he needs to be willing to walk through fire to get his shots off, smother Quigley’s offense, and fight at a pace that the young prospect simply can’t match. It’s going to be an all-offense, all-action, drama-filled fight. This is a bout that could determine the rest of either combatant’s career, and I just cannot wait to see it.