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Quillin intent on raising middleweight profile

By Lyle Fitzsimmons | CBSSports.com

Peter Quillin is a breath of competitive fresh air.

Even though the World Boxing Organization's (WBO) middleweight champion is unbeaten in his weight class, he's still not the type to stand on a soap box, menacingly beat his chest and inflammatorily insist that he's the best that the world has to offer at 160 pounds.

Instead, the thoughtful 30-year-old – while not at all conceding that anyone will beat him in a ring any time soon – is willing to allow for the fact that there are contemporaries at 160 whose claims to the throne have a little more history than his 18-month reign.

“I think Sergio Martinez rightfully can say that he's the best middleweight in the world right now,” he said. “Compared to what he's been fighting and what he has already done, nobody else has been doing that. He's the cash cow and he's the one that's proved everything in the division, so I can never be disrespectful to a guy who's done so much.”

Quillin will make the third defense of his WBO crown on Saturday in Washington, D.C. when he faces Czech import Lucas Konecny in a scheduled 12-round bout. Showtime will televise the match as part of a tripleheader that also includes a light heavyweight title fight between Bernard Hopkins and Beibut Shumenov and a welterweight championship match between Shawn Porter and Paul Malignaggi.

The broadcast begins at 9 p.m. ET from the DC Armory, on the capital city's northeast side.

Martinez, who holds the World Boxing Council (WBC) middleweight title, is also the top 160-pounder in the world according to the British-based Independent World Boxing Rankings, which rate active fighters in each division regardless of what sanctioning organization belts they hold.

Quillin is slotted four spots back at No. 5, where he also trails International Boxing Federation (IBF) champion Felix Sturm, former IBF champion Daniel Geale and Gennady Golovkin, who holds the International Boxing Organization (IBO) and World Boxing Association (WBA) titles.

“Gennady Golovkin is pretty good, too,” Quillin said. “But, to me, I should be right behind Sergio Martinez because of my ability and how I won the title – from a guy who was 27-0 with 17 knockouts. Gennady Golovkin has been raising his profile and looking phenomenal and all that, but me and him can fight for the No. 2 spot, in my opinion.”

In Konecny, a 35-year-old who's won 50 fights in a career that stretches back to 2001, Quillin faces a foe who failed in two previous title tries at 154 pounds and who's not scored a truly signature win since heading full time to the 160-pound division last year. He holds the WBO's European regional middleweight title, is the organization's No. 2 contender and is positioned at No. 24 by the IWBR.

Additionally, he's never fought in the United States.

It's a combination of Konecny's relative anonymity and Quillin's internal competitiveness, he said, that creates an additional aim to make a memorable impression on Saturday night – a task he plans to complete by channeling an in-gym alter ego.

The champion's first three title fights, in which outpointed Hassan N'Dam N'Jikam (UD 12) and stopped both Fernando Guerrero (TKO 7) and Gabriel Rosado (TKO 10), have seen him score 11 knockdowns.

“I feel like when you're fighting within yourself, that's what you tell yourself,” he said.

“It's a test to prove what I'm able to do. Part of it is going in and proving that I can look spectacular and look good and use finesse. That's what I also call myself in the gym – the ‘Finesser' – because I try to use finesse to look as great as I can. I always set my expectations higher than anybody else can. If you let other people set your expectations, then you fight for others. I fight for myself.”

Weekend Watch List

ESPN2 -- Friday, 9 p.m.
“Boxcino” tournament semifinals
Brandon Adams vs. Raymond Gatica -- eight rounds, middleweights
Vitaliy Kopylenko vs. Willie Monroe Jr. -- eight rounds, middleweights

FOX Sports 1 -- Friday, 10 p.m.
Alan Sanchez vs. Jorge Silva -- 10 rounds, welterweights

Showtime -- Friday, 10:45 p.m.
Alexei Collado vs. Rod Salka -- 10 rounds, lightweights
Felix Diaz vs. Emmanuel Lartey -- eight rounds, welterweights
Samuel Vasquez vs. Juan Rodriguez Jr. -- eight rounds, welterweights

AWE -- Saturday, 3 p.m.
Scott Quigg vs. Tshifhiwa Munyai -- 12 rounds, junior featherweights

Showtime -- Saturday, 9 p.m.
Bernard Hopkins vs. Beibut Shumenov -- IBF/WBA light heavyweight titles
Shawn Porter vs. Paul Malignaggi -- IBF welterweight title
Peter Quillin vs. Lukas Konecny -- WBO middleweight title

UniMas -- Sunday, 12 a.m.
Orlando Cruz vs. Gamalier Rodriguez -- 10 rounds, featherweights
Felix Verdejo vs. Ivan Zavala -- six rounds, lightweights

 
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