Hoping to lift Irish spirits, Jason Quigley says all of the pressure is on Edgar Berlanga

May was supposed to be a celebration of boxing in Ireland, but first Katie Taylor lost her unbeaten record to Chantelle Cameron and then Michael Conlan’s army of fans were silenced by Luis Lopez.

What could have been one of the finest seven-day periods in the sport in Ireland in years ended up being little short of heart-breaking. Regardless, there are positives to be taken from the return of globally significant fight cards in Dublin one week and Belfast the next.

The boxing mad nation has been deprived of the sport it craves almost like no other since the Regency Hotel weigh-in shooting in 2016 and the dark clouds that loom from the involvement of alleged cartel boss and boxing ‘advisor’ Daniel Kinahan, who was the target of the shooting.

While Kinahan’s involvement in the sport is widely believed to be ongoing, the signs are less obvious and that allowed big-time boxing back in Ireland. And while it was not the return fight-fans there wanted, Jason Quigley was among many delighted to see it back, and the Irish now have the chance to travel to support him when he faces golden boy hope Edgar Berlanga in New York later this month.

“It’s obviously disappointing, the results from Mick and Katie but at the end of the day if you do take a positive away, it’s so good to have massive, big-time boxing back in Ireland again,” Quigley said. “These major events, you have the likes of Top Rank, Frank Warren, these guys up in Belfast, then you have Matchroom and DAZN down in Dublin. This is what Irish boxing needs. Okay, we may not have been getting the results this last week or two but this is exactly what Irish boxing needs to keep the younger generation hungry, to know that there’s something just there in front of them, just dangling that piece of fruit. Just let them know that, ‘This is possible for you if you keep working hard, you keep discipline, you stay dedicated.’ But in terms of the victories and the success, yes, it has been dimmed over those two weekends, but we’ve got a perfect opportunity to relight that fire and pull Irish boxing back up to where it belongs again.”

Quigley is referring to his own fight, one that sees him as a significant underdog against a touted New Yorker with Puerto Rican heritage around the time of the Puerto Rican parade in New York. Quigley, who is recently married and boasts 20 wins against two losses in the pros, understands his role on June 24, and it is not to win. Golden Boy want Berlanga to be their next big thing, but Quigley thinks the expectations lumped on the 20-0 (16) prospect takes all the pressure off his own shoulders as a challenger.

“One hundred per cent,” said Quigley. “He has to get in there and knock me out for it to be a good performance for him. If he goes the distance, if it’s close in any way, if it’s a robbery, if I go and win, it’s a complete loss for him in any of those situations. He has so much pressure on him, he’s going to want to be impressing Matchroom, he’s going to want be in all the media, he’s going be doing everything because he loves the media. He’s going to be drained mentally as well by all this and everything going on in the coming weeks. This is great for me. I’m coming in completely under the radar, anybody that’s in boxing knows that this is a massive test for Berlanga and anybody in my team knows that this is the perfect opportunity for me to propel myself right up to that elite level again. A hundred per cent, this is a massive and great opportunity for me.”

Quigley has also had plenty of notice. He’d been linked with the Berlanga bout well before the formal announcement. In fact, even before Quigely boxed Hungary’s Gabor Gorbics on April 1, there was speculation that the Irishman might get the Berlanga fight. He shutout Gorbics over 10 rounds.

“They actually reached out to me before the Gorbics fight,” Quigley confirmed. “I told them that I wasn’t really interested because I just wanted to concentrate on getting back in the ring. Obviously I was out for a long time [almost 18 months], I had a broken jaw from the [Demetrius] Andrade fight and I just wanted to get back into the ring and do everything that I did. So I told them that I wasn’t interested and we went and took the fight with Gorbics and got a good victory, 10 rounds in the bag, took a few shots. The jaw, everything felt 100 per cent and I was feeling great. We got the call up then like, a day or two after that fight saying, ‘Look, we really want to make this fight, are you interested now?’ I was gung ho then for it, I was all for it then.”

There is a subplot, too. Quigley is now working with Golden Boy’s former matchmaker Roberto Diaz, who was in Dublin for the Gorbics fight. Diaz and former friend Oscar De La Hoya parted company after almost 20 years together at the end of 2022.

“Me and Robert have been so tight since day one, since I turned professional with Golden Boy,” said Quigley. “Me and him have just struck up a brilliant relationship. He came all the way over to Ireland for my fight with Gorbics as well, my first time back in Ireland, which was amazing. He was there to support me and to encourage me and to keep everything right for me, which he’s always done throughout my career. So we’re teamed up now and I’m stepping into the managing side of things as well with Sheer Sports. We’ve opened our company now over here in Europe as well. We have Sheer Sports, obviously my management team over in America, but we’ve opened up now in Europe. We’re just getting things set up because obviously I’m still an active fighter and I don’t want to fill my hands with ten, twenty boxers. I just want to look after one or two lads that I know I can help along the way with my own experiences and just get the business up and running for after boxing, whenever it’s all over. So hopefully we can make some great world champions, and Robert is going to be a part of that as well.”

Quigley is being trained in Ireland by Andy Lee, who has young star Paddy Donovan in his stable. Quigley has seen Donovan up close, and believes he could be a future star. Donovan is 24-years-old and an 11-0 southpaw who has scored eight wins by stoppage.

“Paddy’s a brilliant prospect, he’s a massive talent,” Quigley said. “Under Andy’s watchful eye, and under the Matchroom and DAZN banner as well, Paddy can go very, very far in the sport. I’m very excited for him, I’m very proud of him, and I think that he’s going to do great things in boxing. 100 per cent he’s one to watch.”