MANY fighters find themselves tumbling into retirement only to come shuffling back to the sport. It could be to scratch those final few itches, to earn the money you gained and lost in your prime, or it could be that you want to chase that last and often elusive victory, so that you can have closure.
Bury’s Scott Quigg (35-3-2, 26 KOs) insists he will not be one of those fighters. The former British and WBA super-bantamweight titlist diligently self-managed his career from an early point, worked hard in the gym, secured big fights, and put enough aside to ensure that when he retired it would be for good and on his own terms. The decision itself came suddenly following his 11th-round corner retirement loss to Jono Carroll earlier this month as the 31-year-old retired in the immediate aftermath. He told Boxing News that it wasn’t a decision made in haste or one that he will regret.
“I would say that I’m at peace because I’ve done as much in my career as I could, and more than I expected, so I can look in the mirror and say I was as good as I ever could be,” Quigg said. “There wasn’t a lack of trying. People would probably say I surpassed where my natural ability and talent should have got me, and that is down to hard work and sheer determination — I squeezed every drop out of the talent I had.
“I’ve made a lot of money so I boxed because I wanted to be a world champion again, but I was unable to do that. Boxing is a hard game. I think back over the years and wouldn’t change a thing, though. I’ve missed out on time with family. I was disciplined, even selfish in a way, because I wanted to hang them up knowing I was as good as I could have been.”
The loss to Carroll underlined a career that started in small halls and ended up in big arenas. Joe Gallagher’s decision to throw in the towel was spot on and, for Quigg, showed that the trainers he has worked with, starting with Brian Hughes MBE then Gallagher and Freddie Roach, appreciated, respected and responded to his dedication.
“I started off in Muay Thai, where Darren Phillips taught me a lot,” he recalled. “The way he taught me Muay Thai was the way Brian Hughes later taught me boxing — start with the fundamentals and work from there. Brian was a mentor to me; without him I wouldn’t have achieved what I did. I felt like I was at school every day due to his methods of training.
“From that point on, I would learn from every trainer I met. Each one of them improved me massively. I’m glad the last one happened in Manchester with Joe in my corner. I owe a lot to Joe so am glad we did that last camp together. Other than the result it was the perfect way to go out with the people I wanted around me. I have nothing but thanks for Joe throwing that towel in as there is life after boxing. Boxing has been my life and Joe wanted to save me from just trying to get through the round in the hope it would come together. The reason why he did it, because we are close, is something that I respect a lot.”
As for the fight itself, Quigg had spoken to BN at length beforehand, detailing how he had adapted to the ageing process and what he expected in the next phase of his career. On the night, though, it became apparent early that something was missing. “From round four I thought: ‘Nah, it isn’t there anymore’,” he revealed.
“My timing and everything was off. The only way to explain it is to imagine playing football at the top-level, you can do it on the training pitch then when you get out in real game time you are slower. I could see everything that we had worked on and what to do, I was just a second or two too slow. It was frustrating as I was reacting late and couldn’t get my own shots off as he had already moved on. He boxed a brilliant fight, to be honest.”
Quigg’s family never had any doubt that he would succeed. His mum has been a part of his team since the start, despite the fact she cannot watch his fights, and his dad instilled an early sense of discipline once his son set out on a sporting path. Quigg dabbled with football then did well in Muay Thai, but it was boxing that captured his heart. Now it is time to move on to the next phase of his story.
“Once I made up my mind that was it,” he said. “My mum loved the way boxing made me feel and it has given us a comfortable life. She is my best friend. It was hard for her when I’d fight. I have packed it in now and can enjoy life. I didn’t want to carry on too long and risk suffering an injury.”
“My dad used to push us hard when we wanted to be footballers, too,” he added. “We’d be on the field every night for three hours. He’d be shouting and bawling, and we couldn’t leave the pitch until we got it right. I responded by thinking: ‘I’ll show you, I’ll get it right’. Different things work for different people, that is the way that was drilled into me, and why I had the fitness levels and career I had. We had no time for coming second, you do it to win and coming second is no different than coming last.
“I am going to make up for some lost time. I am enjoying this time with people and with my life now. I want to invest wisely. It is now about finding that next passion. If you don’t have passion for something you don’t do the same level of job. I am not in a rush, though, because I want it to be something I can dedicate myself to. It is time to get on with what comes next in my life and see what the next venture is.”