When Managers Mismatch Top Prospects Too Soon: Strange Case of Detroit’s O’Quinn
By Robert Brizel, Head Real Combat Media Boxing Correspondent
Recently an established boxing manager in the Detroit area contacted me about an offer for his unbeaten rising Detroit area light heavyweight prospect to fight one division up against another unbeaten prospect attached to a major promoter for a vacant USBA title.
Fight managers sometimes get blinded by the prospect of a major title for a fighter who is a decent prospect on the way up to get mismatched against a more season prospect belonging to a major promoter, who whom a win is virtually guaranteed, thanks to top notch training and preparations, and the influence of the important major promotion.
The best way to understand the concept of what happens when fight managers mismatch their prospects too soon is to look at what happened last weekend to one of Detroit’s brightest prospects, bantamweight Ja’Rico O’Quinn, promoted by Dmitriy Salita. Unbeaten in his first 15 pro bouts, but only one knockout, O’Quinn’s recent victories were over fighters with a combined 120 wins (Oscar Vasquez, James Smith, Alex Rangel, Christian Esquivel, Yaqub Kareem, and Nick Otieno. None of these boxers were world class when O’Quinn fought them. Records mean nothing. O’Quinn was still untested.
In August 2017, O’Quinn was dropped twice in a draw at MGM Grand Detroit against 2-3 Jose Elizondo, a fighter who lost his last eight decisions outside of the draw. This particular draw against a 2-3 fighter (now 2-9-1) proved O’Quinn is a fighter needing more work before being pushed into main event bouts. O’Quinn won two eight-rounders and a 10 rounder (which seemed sufficient but was not) going into his bout with Saul Sanchez on September 24, 2021, in the main event of a seven-bout card at Broken Arrow, Oklahoma. Sanchez, 17-1, 10 knockouts, Pacoima, California, came forward with as a pressure counter puncher, and dropped O’Quinn three times in under two minutes. Sanchez has recorded three first-round knockouts in his last four bouts, with nine of his 10 knockouts coming in four rounds or less. Sanchez has considerable power, including an eighth-round knockout in a vacant WBO Latino Bantamweight title bout in 2019. Sanchez dropped O’Quinn with a counter left hook to the chin, again with a short overhand right to the head with O’Quinn’s guard down, and then a third time with a series of nonstop right-left nonstop combinations. Sanchez is one class of boxing skill above O’Quinn, and he knew it.
O’Quinn was untested against main event opposition, and is not yet ready for step up bouts. O’Quinn is still a good prospect. Promoters need to avoid tempting mismatches.