LONDON — Former junior featherweight world titleholder Scott Quigg and Viorel Simion put on a rough, grind-it-out fight, but in the end Quigg prevailed by unanimous decision in their featherweight world title eliminator on Saturday night at sold-out Wembley Stadium.
Fighting on the undercard of the megafight between heavyweight world titleholder Anthony Joshua and former longtime champion Wladimir Klitschko, Quigg earned an eventual title shot against world titleholder Lee Selby.
The fight was Quigg’s first since he parted ways with trainer Joe Gallagher and moved his camp to Hollywood, California, to train with Hall of Famer Freddie Roach.
“It was a tough fight,” Quigg said. “It was hard work, but I was in control at all the times. First fight with Freddie, and I’m very happy.”
The boxers fought at a fast pace and had many exchanges, though Quigg, 32, of England, appeared to be the heavier puncher.
The fourth round was action-packed as they fired shots at each other and both connected, but one of Quigg’s right hands forced Simion to shake his head and take a step back.
They continued to hammer away in the fifth round, when Simion’s face began to show swelling and Quigg wound up with a cut on the back of his head.
Round after round, they marched forward and exchanged shots, but Simion, 35, of Romania, appeared to get the worst of it.
Simion (21-2, 9 KOs) landed several shots in a row in the 11th round that forced Quigg (33-1-2, 24 KOs) into the ropes to look for cover and then try to hold.
Selby first owes a mandatory defense to Argentina’s Jonathan Victor Barros, which means Quigg likely will have at least one more fight before facing Selby.
“Scott is ready for the title fight right now,” Matchroom Boxing promoter Eddie Hearn said. “But he’s happy to have one more with Freddie while Selby fights Barros.”
Simion’s five-fight winning streak came to end. He had not lost since dropping a 12-round unanimous decision in 2013 to Selby (24-1, 9 KOs), of Wales, who later won a featherweight world title.
Quigg won his second fight in a row since losing his junior featherweight belt to Carl Frampton in their heavily hyped unification bout in February 2016. Quigg then moved up in weight.
Campbell earns lightweight title shot
Lightweight Luke Campbell (17-1, 14 KOs) earned a mandatory title shot against world champion Jorge Linares in a dominant ninth-round knockout of former world titleholder Darleys Perez (33-3-2, 21 KOs) in a title eliminator.
Perez failed to make weight at Friday’s weigh-in, coming in at 136.3 pounds; the lightweight limit is 135 pounds. That made him ineligible to earn the mandatory position against Linares, who was ringside.
Campbell, however, was still able to earn the title fight with a victory and did so in impressive fashion.
“Perez is a smart fighter, so I had to be patient and be smart,” Campbell said. “I wanted the round and I wanted to practice some things and show my skills. And when I started to connect, I hurt him. We got the win.”
Campbell, 29, was aggressive and went after Perez, especially with body shots and straight left hands. One of those lefts rocked Perez in the fourth round.
While Campbell put combinations together, Perez typically threw one punch at a time and appeared dead tired by the end of the sixth round, perhaps a sign that the weight struggle was taking its toll.
Early in the seventh round, Campbell connected with a clean left hand that drove Perez, 33, of Colombia, back to the corner. In the eighth round, Campbell landed a hard right hand that nearly knocked Perez down.
Early in the ninth round, Perez complained of a left arm injury as he shook his arm at referee Steve Gray, but continued to fight. But later in the round, as Campbell continued to stalk him, Perez elected not to continue, pointing to his arm and shaking his head with a look of pain on his face, and Gray waved off the fight at 1 minute, 28 seconds.
With Perez vanquished. Campbell, a 2012 Olympic gold medalist for Great Britain, wants the title shot next. “Most definitely,” he said as Linares stood by his side at ringside. “Linares is a great champion. I’ve been watching him for a while, and to be the best you have to beat the best, and that’s exactly what I’m going to do.”
Linares (42-3, 27 KOs) has made a bit of a name for himself in England, defeating Anthony Crolla twice and Kevin Mitchell. Linares said he is willing to come back to England to defend against Campbell.
“We’ve got to find a Brit who can beat him, and I think we’ve found one in Luke,” Matchroom’s Hearn said.
Junior lightweight Joe Cordina (2-0, 2 KO), the 2016 Great Britain Olympian who made his pro debut on April 22 and scored a fourth-round knockout, returned to action a week later and destroyed Sergej Vib (7-8, 4 KOs) in short order. Cordina, 25, of Wales, dropped Vib, 23, of Russia, twice, landing a series of blows that included a left hand to the body that dropped him for the count at 1 minute, 59 seconds of the first round.