Unbeaten Peter Quillin announced on social media Thursday that he was dropping his WBO middleweight title and declining a career-high $1.4 million purse to defend against Matt Korobov.
A planned Quillin-Korobov bout would have been Nov. 1 at the Barclay's Center in Quillin's hometown in the New York borough of Brooklyn. Not only would Quillin have earned a career-high purse, but he'd have been heavily favored to win.
A peek behind the curtain, though, may explain what is going on.
Quillin's adviser is the powerful Al Haymon, who made his mark in the music industry before getting into boxing. Roc Nation Sports won a purse bid at $1.9 million for the right to promote the Quillin-Korobov fight. Roc Nation's bid was more than the bids of Golden Boy Promotions ($1.207 million) and Top Rank's ($515,000) combined.
Roc Nation's principal is hip hop star Jay Z. There is no love lost between Haymon and Jay Z.
It's most likely that Quillin dropping the title was a move orchestrated by Haymon to keep Jay Z out of his business. That, more than ducking any fighter, is almost certainly what this is about.
On Instagram, Quillin wrote:
I would like to thank the WBO for allowing me to grace the ring and live out my dream of being a world champion. For nearly two years, I have held that title and I will forever hold this period in my career in high regard. Effective today, I will be vacating my championship belt. I have a strong team surrounding me and I trust they have big plans for my future. I appreciate the support my fans have given me and I'm grateful to the WBO for my run as a world champion. I look forward to my future endeavors in the ring. Thank you.
The question is: If Quillin fights WBA champion Danny Jacobs, who is also advised by Haymon, what will it do to his chances of fighting the man regarded as the true middleweight champion, Gennady Golovkin? Golovkin has the super WBA middleweight title.
There isn't going to be many more offers much better than $1.4 million for Quillin to fight anyone else other than Golovkin.
Golovkin fights Marco Antonio Rubio on Oct. 18 in Carson, Calif. He's on a mission to win all of the middleweight belts, so he would have been interested in Quillin because of the WBO strap. He's a far less attractive opponent to Golovkin without a belt.
"Now you can see the difficulty we had getting a unification fight with Quillin," Golovkin promoter Tom Loeffler of K2 said. "We reached out to them and could never get an answer. ... But Quillin's value to us was as a champion. Without a belt, there's not a lot of value there for us."
Sam Soliman owns the IBF middleweight belt, which he'll defend Oct. 8 against ex-champion Jermain Taylor. And Miguel Cotto, who announced on Twitter on Thursday that he won't fight again until 2015, has the WBC belt. Rubio has the interim belt – Why is there an interim title when there is a WBC champion in the weight, Mauricio Sulaiman? – and that will be at stake against Golovkin.
So Quillin's move is most definitely curious. This, though, may be the first of many battles between Haymon and Jay Z in the boxing world. Sadly, most of it will involve back-room manuevering and won't be obvious to the public.