Peter Quillin was supposed to come full circle Saturday night.
The Grand Rapids, Michigan-born, Brooklyn, N.Y., transplant was supposed to regain the same WBO middleweight title he relinquished in September in a king’s homecoming by defeating Andy Lee in a nationally televised bout at Barclays Center.
But those hopes were dashed, as Quillin failed two attempts to make the contractual weight of 160 pounds Friday. He came in at 161.4 pounds and two hours later at 160.6. Instead of boxing for the belt that was once his, Saturday night’s bout was a non-title fight. Quillin and Lee fought to a draw, despite Quillin knocking the scrappy U.K. fighter down twice during the first three rounds. The day before, Quillin took to his Twitter account to express his disappointment, even apologizing to Lee and all his fans.
"What can I say?" Quillin tweeted. "I didn't make weight. I want to apologize to Andy Lee and to all my supporters and fans. I made every effort to make weight but it just wasn't meant to be and I have no one else to blame but myself.
"I may not win a title [Saturday], but I still have a fight to win and I still plan to put on a good performance,” he continued. "I promise to use this as a learning experience for the future. God bless."
Just because no title was exchanged doesn’t mean Quillin, who goes by the nickname of “Kid Chocolate,” didn't have anything to fight for.
Last August, he and his wife welcomed their son, Joaquin, into the world. But the celebration of a new life wasn’t pure joy as it should have been. That’s because at the same time Quillin’s uncle Eric Munson was battling stage IV pancreatic cancer.
“It's so emotional to talk about it because he was talking about it like he was going to beat it,” Quillin told BET.com about Munson having a positive outlook about the cancer that weakened his body, but clearly not his mind.
Quillin decided to vacate his WBO middleweight strap last September. Despite chemotherapy and other treatment, Munson’s condition only got worse. By February, Munson’s status was grave. Quillin asked his wife if he could take their son to Michigan to have the chance to meet Munson. Despite heavy mother-bear reservations of letting the 5-month-old child travel on an airplane, she relented and obliged. And it was worth it. Joaquin got to meet Munson, who Quillin always viewed as a father figure growing up.
“I caught a moment with my son…he grabs my uncle's hand and he held his hand,” an emotional Quillin said.
“I had a moment in time where I said, 'If there's one person that I'd want my son to meet, it'd be my uncle Eric,'” Quillin added. “I'm so happy he met my uncle because it was one of the most special moments in my entire life."
Quillin and his son left Michigan on February 2. Munson, 57, died four days later while Quillin was on the way to California to train for the Lee fight. Despite knowing that he wouldn't win hardware in Brooklyn Saturday night, Quillin still had something to fight Lee — and any opponent — for.
“I have another reason to fight now — not only for my uncle, but for every family that has somebody who has cancer or passed away from cancer,” Quillin said.
“I look at it like you have a life, you lose a life, you gain a life,” he added, speaking about the whirlwind of welcoming a child and losing an uncle in the span of less than six months. “That was a prime example of what happened to me.”
The fight continues.
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(Photo: Elsa/Getty Images)