In August 2014, "Kid Chocolate" Peter Quillin was the WBO middleweight titlist and a rising star in the world of boxing. Roc Nation Sports, then a boxing promotional outfit, surprisingly won the purse bid for Quillin's mandatory title defense against Matt Korobov with what seemed to be an exorbitant figure of more than $1.9 million.
Quillin, as the defending champion, would receive more than $1.4 million for the bout. He turned it down.
"I thought [the Roc Nation offer] was the opportunity to sell my soul," Quillin says of his dilemma at the time. "So I don't regret making a decision that many people aren't in a position to say no to."
Quillin prioritized his family and life outside of the ring. He bypassed that opportunity and the quick payday by vacating his title and leaving Korobov to face Andy Lee for the WBO belt. Not only would it have been a financial windfall, but it left Quillin titleless for the first time since 2012.
That particular decision didn't negatively impact his career immediately. In April 2015, Quillin still landed fights against Lee (which turned out to be a disputed split draw), and then, after stopping Michael Zerafa in five rounds, he faced Daniel Jacobs for a version of the WBA middleweight title. The Brooklyn showdown ended up being a blowout as Quillin was stopped in controversial fashion in the first round by referee Harvey Dock.
"It just taught me a lot about myself," Quillin says about his loss against Jacobs. "In boxing you see all these kinda things happen all the time, woulda been, coulda been, shoulda been. So I don't dwell on those things because that defeat that night, in a lot of ways I won, certain things about my morality, my relationship with God."
Eric Brown, who trained Quillin for the Jacobs' fight, believes Quillin was having a tough time ahead of the bout.
"I just think it was a tough time for Kid, he was going through [some] changes as far as his family, coming to terms with his spirituality, a new child, everything," Brown says.
That loss may have sent him on a spiritual path, but also put a screeching halt to his career.
So what happened?
Quillin says life.
"My remaining goal is to make sure I came in the game with my dignity and leave with my gratitude. I just want to leave with all those things. I didn't sell my soul, there was no way they could buy me, I stayed the same from the beginning and I'm going to stay the same till the end." Peter Quillin
"I had a lot of personal family issues. ... I got married, I had kids with the wife. I had to see what happens in the boxing game,'' he says. "I was taking time off to find out who I should be working with."
The respite led Quillin to further embrace religion and gain an understanding for how his career and beliefs intersected.
"I read the Bible every day, to the point where I'm considering, after I retire from the sport of boxing, going back to college and get a degree in theology and business," he says.
After some time away, Quillin ultimately decided to return to the ring. In September 2017, he outpointed journeyman Dashon Johnson in an eight-round battle. The following year his lone ring appearance was a one-sided, 10-round unanimous decision against J'Leon Love.
In April he continued his comeback against tougher talent and after a strong early start against Caleb Truax, an accidental clash of heads cut Truax and the fight was ruled a second-round no contest. A late summer rematch with Truax was scheduled and then scrapped as Truax suffered a torn right Achilles in what was set to be an IBF super middleweight elimination bout.
With Truax out of the picture, "Kid Chocolate" turned to Alfredo "Perro" Angulo, whom he'll face on Saturday at the Rabobank Theater in Bakersfield, California.
Quillin's trainer for the past two fights, Aureliano Sosa, believes Quillin has a reinvigorated focus and determination to not only fight, but to help others in the sport and support his family.
"Definitely. Since he came with me, he seems more motivated, I guess, because he's closer to his family [training in Brooklyn]," Sosa says. "Also in the gym there's some young guys, hungry fighters and he gets into it."
Sosa, who works with Quillin on a daily basis at the NYC Cops and Kids Boxing Gym in Brooklyn, says that despite being 36 years old, Quillin is young in spirit.
"The thing with Kid is he's a veteran, but he has a young mind," Sosa says. "And when you have a young mind, you learn what you're being taught much faster than some of the older ones that take forever."
Sosa says he has a great time training Quillin, lauding him for his work ethic and how humorous and light he makes things in the gym.
"I don't mind spending an extra hour, hour-and-a-half, two hours to get the work done with him because he is a fun person to work with," he says.
"When people see him for this fight, they're going to see a brand new Peter Quilln. A Peter Quillin that is going to use his jab way more. He's going to put the jab in different locations, [be] smarter with the feet, smarter in moving the shoulders. He's definitely going to look like a younger 'Kid Chocolate.'"
Sooner or later Quillin (34-1-1, 23 KOs) will be fighting for a 168 pounds title, but that's not necessarily what he's aiming for in the twilight of his career.
"My remaining goal is to make sure I came in the game with my dignity and leave with my gratitude," he says. "I just want to leave with all those things. I didn't sell my soul, there was no way they could buy me, I stayed the same from the beginning and I'm going to stay the same till the end.
"[My son Joaquin is] 5 years old now, and I look at him and I'm very blessed that I've never put money before him. Look, I'm OK, I'm still good. We own our house, everything is lovely."