MURFREESBORO, Tenn. --- Jarrell Miller returned to his knockout ways in his first stateside appearance in nearly four years.

The unbeaten heavyweight floored Tijuana’s Derek Cardenas three times en route to a fourth-round knockout Saturday evening in the main ballroom of Embassy Suites in Murfreesboro, Tennessee. Cardenas was down late in round three and twice in round four, prompting a stoppage at 1:43 of round four.

Miller spent much of the opening round fighting largely behind the jab. Cardenas moved around the ring, looking to avoid the incoming and not offering much in return. Miller was content with fighting at a measured pace early before picking up steam as the bout progressed.

Cardenas attempted to catch Miller with a left hook early in round two. It awoke the unbeaten Brooklyn native, who let his hands go and began to work the fleshy midsection of Cardenas. Miller brought the attack upstairs, pinning the Mexican heavyweight on the ropes and cracking him with left hooks and right hands on several occasions.

Miller was dialed in with his right uppercut in round three. Several found their way to Cardenas’ chin while also not pardoning the body. Cardenas proved to be tougher than advertised, drawing a rise out of the crowd after launching an overhand right. Miller responded with a thudding right hand of his own along with another downstairs. A right hand upstairs followed by a left hook to the body forced Cardenas to take a knee for the bout’s first knockdown.

It signaled the beginning of the end.

Miller cranked out a left hook combination to the head and body at the start of round four. Cardenas (8-10, 7KOs) was stuck on the ropes, briefly escaping only to walk into a right uppercut that forced him to the canvas. Miller closed the show moments later, decking Cardenas in center ring, forcing referee Daniel Ziemba to mercifully stop the contest.

The fight was the first for Miller—now 25-0-1 (21KOs)—in the U.S. since November 2018, in a a 4th round knockout of Bogdan Dinu as part of a DAZN show in Mulvane, Kansas.  Saturday's bout came 30 days after his ring return on June 23 in Buenos Aires.

The 43-month inactive stretch prior to his return last month included two separate fights falling through due to testing positive for banned substances. The most prolific of the two came in his disgraceful exit from a shot at then-unbeaten, unified heavyweight titlist Anthony Joshua in 2019, when Miller came up positive on three separate random drug tests which resulted in the New York State Athletic Commission rejecting his application for a license.

Miller avoided a suspension due to not having an active license at the time of the positive drug test, though he still sat out for more than a year before another promoter would take a chance on the disgraced heavyweight.

A second chance at a fresh start was squandered by Miller, who tested positive for GW501516—also known as cardarine and endurobol—ahead of his scheduled July 2020 ESPN headliner versus Jerry Forrest. The fight was due to take place in Las Vegas, where the Nevada State Athletic Commission treated him like a licensed fighter and issued a backdated two-year suspension from the time of the June 2020 positive drug test.

The suspension ended earlier this month, though with Miller previously pre-approved earlier this spring to be eligible for a boxing license anywhere in the U.S. beginning June 17. Miller was required to undergo random drug testing prior to being approved for a license by the Tennessee Athletic Commission.

Miller indicated after the fight that he intends to return to the ring within the next three weeks. It would be in line with his goal of fighting at least once a month through the rest of the year. 

Jake Donovan is a senior writer for Twitter: @JakeNDaBox