British super-bantamweight champion Scott Quigg tells us his ambitious plans for this year.
Bury fighter has more titles on his mind
Scott Quigg is setting his sights on a European title after proving he is a step ahead of his domestic rivals in 2011. The British super-bantamweight champion makes his first defence against Jamie Arthur on February 4th live on Sky Sports. Providing that goes to plan he has big ambitions for the next twelve months.
"I want to carry on gaining experience," Quigg told Sky Sports.com. "Fighting fighters that are going to bring the best out in me and getting me towards winning the world title."
One of the fighters Quigg is referring to is Kiko Martinez. The current European champion is renowned for his explosive knockout power but Quigg is far from intimidated.
"Martinez is a strong come-forward fighter and with the power he possesses he's a dangerous fighter," says Quigg.
"One punch can change a fight but I'm confident his style suits my style. I've got the ability to beat him and beat him well. I've watched his fights against Rendall Munroe and Jason Booth and I believe I can do a better job than Munroe did. The confidence I've got at the minute after coming off a good win over Jason Booth, and seeing what Kiko did with Jason, I think I've got his number."
Confidence is not something that Quigg lacks and from an early age he was determined he would become a successful fighter. He even took the extraordinary step of asking to be excluded from school so he could concentrate all his efforts on boxing.
"I just wasn't made for school," Quigg continued.
"I used to turn up to make sure my mum didn't get in trouble. Eventually they brought my mum in and we had a meeting and I asked them to expel me. They said well what are you going to do? What are you going to be? I said I'm going to be a world champion boxer."
Afterwards Quigg went into boxing full-time but also worked with his dad in a factory. He was given the unenviable task of sweeping the floor, but instead of being disheartened he used it as a source of motivation.
"What could be more embarrassing for a fifteen year-old than sweeping a factory floor? But I did it with pride because I knew it was all helping towards where I wanted to be. It kept me grounded and I'm still grounded now."
Quigg split his time between the factory and the Collyhurst and Moston lads club where he joined up with renowned trainer and boxing historian Brian Hughes. The gym had previously been home to the likes of Robin Reid, Michael Gomez and Michael Jennings and Quigg admits he was nervous on his first visit.
"We went down there one day and the gym was shut. I had a bit of butterflies and a bit of relief at the time. Then we went back the next day and Brian took a look at me and said you've got potential. Even though I was still amateur I started training regularly in the mornings with the pros."
Working alongside the likes of Gary Lockett, Thomas McDonagh and David Barnes, Quigg was taught Hughes' unique style of fighting that is founded on the skills of defence. Quigg shares his belief that only a fighter who doesn't get hit can compete at the highest level.
"I don't think there's anyone who I hold with more regard than Brian Hughes," says Quigg.
"He was all about defence, one of the first things he said after I finished my first training session was look in the mirror, what you see now is the way you want to go out, with no marks."
When Hughes retired from boxing Quigg made the decision to join Joe Gallagher's successful and ever increasing stable. There he experienced a competitive environment with a number of fighters around his weight who shared his ambitions of a world title fight. He also found a trainer with the same drive as the boxers he prepares for the ring.
"One of the biggest things you have to compliment Joe on is he wants it as much as the boxer. He puts his heart and soul into it.
Joe's tactical ability is also excellent - he takes up a gameplan and comes up with new things. I've not been with a trainer before that comes up with the strategies he does."
It was with Joe in his corner for the first time that Quigg produced a dominant performance against Jason Booth to win the British title. Booth had previously held his own in world and European title challenges but Quigg punished him from the outset. He never allowed the Nottingham fighter to get into his rhythm and stopped him for only the second time in his career.
"The best thing about it was the performance I put in and the manner in which I beat him," Quigg added.
"It was a massive confidence boost, I've never been in a big fight and I was top of the bill on Sky. There was more attention on me, more pressure, but I seemed to rise to it and handle it well."
The ruthless style in which Quigg dismantled Booth has already led to comparisons being made with his promoter Ricky Hatton. The Bury fighter has a growing fan base in the north-west and also likes to land the vicious body shots which became the Hitman's trademark. But Quigg has no intention of trying to emulate Hatton, although he is happy to learn from the former two time world champion.
"There will only ever be one Ricky Hatton," says Quigg.
"I don't think that following will ever be achieved again. He just gives you little bits of advice on how to handle the pressure and how to go about your business when you get the bigger fights. He advises not to make the same mistakes he did outside the ring and enjoy your life after boxing."
If Quigg is to compete at world level like Hatton he must first successfully defend his British title in Bolton against Jamie Arthur. His durable Welsh opponent hasn't been stopped in seven years and took the highly-rated Martin Lindsay twelve rounds. It is certainly not a fight that Quigg is taking lightly.
"Jamie Arthur is going to bring something to the table, not just experience he's had championship experience.
It's nonsense when people say it's an easy fight. He's recharged the batteries and will come back with a bit of grit between his teeth because he knows this is his last chance."
While he is not looking past the Arthur fight, Quigg has plenty more planned for 2012. He hopes to be ready for a world title fight by early next year and to do that he feels he must beat opponents who have already competed at that level. Fellow Hatton fighter Rendall Munroe has challenged for the WBC belt and Quigg isn't ruling out a meeting with the boxing binman.
"I want to fight the best and I want fights that will prepare me for the next stage. Fighting Rendall Munroe would do that," says Quigg
"He's fought at world title level against the number one so I need to test myself against him. He fell short so if I'm going to progress to a world level I've got to be beating the likes of Rendall Munroe."
Whether this year sees Quigg take on Munroe, Martinez or other highly rated fighters at super-bantamweight, he is not content with the success he has had so far. Other boxers may be distracted by the attention that comes with titles and big fights but Quigg says he is more focused now than ever.
"Sometimes you get to a point where you've been doing something for so long you start losing interest and start wanting to go out and do something else. But it's never been like that for me and boxing, the drive has always been the same and it's increasing now."