Billy Quarantillo is about to step into the cage for the biggest fight of his life. Not only is the New Yorker about to get his first crack at a ranked opponent, but he’ll do so in front of thousands of screaming fans in Madison Square Garden on one of the biggest cards of the year.
For such a big occasion, Quarantillo pulled out all the stops. Always a successful grappler, Billy Q knew he’d need to step up his striking for the test that was in front of him.
“It was just one of those things that kind of fell into place,” Quarantillo said. “So obviously I heard I was going to be fighting Shane Burgos and obviously he’s a great striker, great boxer.”
Quarantillo grew up a boxing fan. So when a chance encounter led him to a former light heavyweight boxing champion, he knew that he had to jump at a once in a lifetime opportunity.
“It actually worked out that one of my friends, it’s actually like a friend of a friend, went out to a meeting and was talking to me about sponsorships. But then I realized he was friends with Antonio Tarver,” he recalled. “He’s like ‘oh, man, you got to meet him. He’s a great dude, super humble.”
In a crazy turn of events, Quarantillo found out that Tarver had been training people for some time. Not only was he doing boxing work with fighters, but he was doing it in a place that was extremely accessible to Billy.
“He trains people at a gym that’s like 10 minutes away from my house,” Quarantillo said. “We just hit it off and he was like ‘yeah, man, let me know if you want to get some work in.”
While Quarantillo is still working with his usual array of coaches, he’s found the extra work with Tarver to be a difference maker for him. Not only has it elevated his striking game going into UFC 268, but it’s elevated his mental game as well.
“He’s really just developed my game – working on my punches, developing more power,” Quarantillo said. “But not only that, what I really like about him is that he just tells me stories about when he would fight and his mentality and how he would act fight week and how he would look at his opponents. I love being around people like that who have been there and done that… Just being around him, I’m like a sponge. I listen to everything he says.”
We’ll see the fruits of his new work on the main card of UFC 268 this Saturday only on pay-per-view. You can hear the entire audio of this interview at 1:52.