JASON Quigley proved no match for defending WBO World middleweight champion Demetrius Andrade in their title fight in Manchester, New Hampshire.
Quigley’s dream of bringing a world belt back to his native Donegal was all over before the end of the second round with the referee halting the contest after he suffered his third knockdown.
It was Andrade’s fifth successful defence of the belt – all against European fighters, including Irishman Luke Keeler. But this time around he went for the jugular early and Quigley, though not hurt, couldn’t cope with the speed of his punches.
The manner of the defeat will hurt Quigley as much as the loss itself – he left the ring before being interviewed by the host broadcaster DAZN.
Even though he is 30, he could try and rebuild his career. But this is his second stoppage loss in his last five fights. So, he has a long journey back to the pinnacle of the sport.
The Southern New Hampshire University Arena was rocking with Irish fans as Quigley made his ring-walk even though Andrade, a former world amateur champion, lives just 90 minutes away in Rhode Island, Providence.
Andrade – better known as ‘Boo Boo’ – had promised to be destructive. Even though he has been a world champion since 2018, he has never managed to secure a unification fight, never mind a mega fight which would set him up financially for life.
He is not renowned for his knock-out prowess and as a result doesn’t put bums on seats. Prior to the fight, however, he promised to be ‘destructive’ and that’s exactly what he was as he justified his overwhelming 1/16 odds.
Former middleweight world champion Andy Lee, who rescued Quigley’s career after his loss to Tureano Johnson in 2019, was unable to travel to the US due to visa issues, so another Irish world champion, Wayne McCullough, was in challenger’s corner.
Quigley looked confident during the first two and a half minutes as Andrade adopted the classic southpaw stance – he stood off and waited for the Irishman to advance.
But then the champion struck with devastating impact 30 seconds from the bell, doing the damage with a right hook to the body and a right to the top of the head. Quigley hit the canvas but easily beat the count and comfortably made it to the end of the round.
McCullough warned him not to stand back and keep his hands up. In previous fights, Andrade has knocked down opponents in the first round but then has been content to show his boxing skills rather than go for the knock-out.
But sensing that something different was needed if he was to finally to land that mega fight, Andrade went after an early finish. After an early flurry he scarcely threw another punch until he sent Quigley to the canvas for the second time with a left to the temple.
Sensing that the contest was over he jumped on to the ropes to celebrate, but Quigley didn’t even look dazed as he beat the count. But this time there was no reprieve for him as Andrade swarmed all over him in the corner and dropped him with a right to the top of his head.
Referee Arthur Mercante Jr immediately stepped in and halted the fight with 36 seconds of the second round left. Ultimately Quigley couldn’t cope with Andrade’s speed.
But while Boo will now surely land a unification fight in the middleweight division against possibly Jermall Charlo, Quigley has a lot of soul searching to do.
He reached for the stars but was beaten by a better fighter, who improves his professional record to 31-0 with 19 of those wins achieved inside the distance. Quigley, meanwhile, drops to 19-2
But it was a night to remember for the other Irish fighter on the card as Connemara native Thomas O’Toole impressed the crowd, and more importantly Matchroom boss Eddie Hearn with a stunning first knock-out win over Texan Mark Malone.
“That’s a showreel knockout that’s going to be seen around the world,” suggested Hearn, who said the 23-year-old ‘warrants another opportunity’
O’Toole, who was due to graduate from GMIT with a business degree yesterday, told broadcaster DAZN afterwards the prospect of fighting on the undercard of the Quigley-Andrade world title fight was too much to resist.
“For the last four years, I was thinking of my college graduation and I couldn’t wait to celebrate it but being invited to the biggest stage in boxing is amazing, “ O’Toole, who was Irish elite champion in 2019, said.
In 2020 he was beaten in the Elite light heavyweight final by Emmet Brennan, who used that victory as the launch pad for his qualification for the Tokyo Olympics. Brennan was in the arena last night to watch his two fellow Irishmen.
This was O’Toole’s second pro fight. The Celtic Eagles boxer was giving up 12 pounds to his opponent, who had also won his debut fight. But he was in a different class and the contest was all over after 90 seconds.
Malone was knocked out cold after O’Toole landed a succession of big lefts but the Texan recovered and was able to walk to his dressing room
Legendary Connemara fighter Sean Mannion is now part of O’Toole’s coaching team. He ended his interview with DAZN with a couple of sentences in Irish.
Meanwhile, it was announced in the US last night that undisputed welterweight champion Jessica McCaskill was signing a long-term promotional deal with Matchroom and will defend her belts against Victoria Bustos at the MGM In Las Vegas on December 4.
The significance of the deal is that McCaskill wants a rematch against Ireland’s undefeated lightweight World champion Katie Taylor. With both fighters now promoted by Matchroom, this makes a fight more straight forward. However, it is not likely to happen until the middle of next year and is dependent, of course, on Taylor and McCaskill retaining their world belts.