Jason “El Animal” Quigley had done a terrific job of living up to his moniker ahead of his March 23 fight with Glen Tapia at Fantasy Springs Casino in Indio. Going in, the middleweight contender from Ireland was 12-0 with 10 knockouts – five in the first round – and in his previous start in December destroyed Jorge Melendez in the first round at the Fabulous Forum.
Well, Quigley broke his right hand in the second round against Tapia, at the same time tearing a tendon, so excuse him if he was only able to win a unanimous decision over Tapia.
If anything, we should be commending Quigley for having the intestinal fortitude to fight eight more rounds in sheer agony. Not all fighters would have.
Quigley, who is ranked as high as No. 9 in the world, was scheduled to have surgery Friday in Los Angeles to repair his wounds. While speaking with him Thursday, and it was hard not to grimace when taking in his account.
“I don’t think I’ve ever felt that kind of pain before,” said Quigley, who trains in Carson and lives in Marina Del Rey. “This is boxing. We get in there, we know we’re going to shed blood, we know we’re going to get hurt and we know that bones are going to break.”
But the best, and most courageous, do everything they can not to quit – even under these circumstances.
“When it happened, there was never a moment or a thought that crossed my mind where, ‘OK, I can’t continue,’ or, ‘OK, I’ve gotta get out of here; I can’t continue with this because I’ve only got one hand,’ “ he said.
Rather, he pondered, “OK, how do I win this fight? I’ve only one hand, I’ve gotta win this fight with one hand.”
Quigley said a landed punch on the head of Tapia caused his injuries. He said he held back for a couple of rounds, threw a few rights with “no conviction,” then saw an opening, forgot himself and landed another hard right to the head of Tapia in either the fourth or fifth round.
“The pain of it was just unbelievable,” Quigley said.
He made sure no one could tell he was hurt. That’s not easy, when one is in this kind of despair.
“I didn’t show that I was injured, I didn’t show Tapia that I had pain in the hand and couldn’t use my right hand,” said Quigley, who won a regional title that night. “That is the positive that I’m taking away. As soon as I hurt my hand, my plan was to hide the injury, not to show Tapia any weaknesses or anything that was wrong with my hand.”
To Quigley, that means he did everything correctly once the injury occurred. However, he still took some heat in some fight stories, one of which had a headline that suggested Quigley showed flaws.
Of course, the extent of his injuries were not immediately known, so it wasn’t shocking that Quigley’s praises were not being sung – his wide victory notwithstanding. That’s what happens when a fighter has been so ferocious, then for one fight is just good enough to win by six, eight and 10 points.
He gets that, to a degree.
“People are going to criticize you no matter what,” Quigley said. “Every human being on this planet has their own opinion. And no matter what, you’re going to get criticized.”
Quigley believes what matters most is what he and his team think. He’s promoted by Golden Boy Promotions. Its president, Eric Gomez, doesn’t hide what he thinks about Quigley.
“Though the doctor was surprised that Jason could lift his hand — let alone win a 10-round prize-fight — after breaking his hand and ‘shredding’ his tendon, this kind of heart, will and skill by is what we have come to expect from Jason,” Gomez said Wednesday.
Quigley, 25, is expected to be on the shelf for three months before he can use his right hand again.
“This is only a minor setback,” he said.