All mighty in Almaty as Quigley becomes first Irishman to make world final
Joe Ward can’t tag elusive Cuban Peraza as he bows out with bronze in Kazakhstan
Jason Quigley celebrates beating Artem Chebotarev of Russia in their World Championships middleweight semi-final bout in Almaty, Kazakhstan as coaches Zuar Antia, left and Billy Walsh, second left, are interviewed. Photograph: Paul Mohan/Sportsfile
Donegal middleweight Jason Quigley, right, in action against Artem Chebotarev of Russia in their World Championships semi-final bout in Almaty, Kazakhstan. Photograph: Cathal Noonan/Inpho
Even the austere Kazak guards permitted a small security breach yesterday. Conor Quigley, Jason’s father, was ushered through to meet his son as he walked from the cameras, his place in the World Championship final secure.
He lifted him high in the air and as he did Jason reached down and planted a kiss on his head. It has been a long road from Donegal to Almaty but one walked together by father and son, one now bringing rewards that were once the idle thoughts of a child.
It was Conor who sat with Jason and the Ireland coaches to write the prescription for the dissection of Russia’s Artem Chebotarev. It was also his father who tutored him from his first fight as a seven-year-old against Noel McBride of St Mary’s, Annagry, and who has now brought him to the verge of being judged the best amateur middleweight boxer in world boxing.
High performance can now start to have headaches. Professional offers will roll in.
A freshly-minted European title still cooling from the summer and unbeaten at senior international level, Quigley’s breathless counter-punching first two rounds followed by a hawkish, salty third of bruising exchanges, where he clearly hurt the Russian, has instantly installed him as a medal hope for Rio 2016.
“We dreamed of it since he was a child, since he was seven years of age,” said his father and coach. “Fifteen years of hard work whenever he achieved his bronze medal.
“Fifteen years of hard work has been defined in nine minutes. Fifteen years and now there is another nine minutes, a world final. Unbelievable. Words cannot describe it.
“He’s an absolute brilliant, brilliant lad and very, very talented. That Russian he beat in there today was one hell of a boxer. But he was just annihilated there today.
“Jason was the man carrying the power and he had the speed. He was countering the Russian every time he made a mistake and he was faster to the punch. He was absolutely fantastic, completely nailed the performance, and he knew he had to. He knew he had to do it against that man.”
Reaction in Donegal has been loud. But a mark of Quigley has been his willingness to believe in his imagination, chase the fancies of his childhood and he has never shied from demanding of himself in the pursuit.
“We’ve just tried to keep things down on a level playing field because things can get carried away a wee bit too much and we haven’t really achieved what we want to achieve,” added Conor. “It’s absolutely incredible to get a bronze medal but Jason Quigley is used to winning gold medals. He doesn’t settle for bronze. He went in there today and he’s bagged silver.”