By Keith Idec
Jarrell Miller is less than two weeks removed from quickly knocking out a 41-year-old former contender.
Now the heavyweight’s handlers are working on matching Miller against a 45-year-old contender who hasn’t fought in four years. And this time, Miller will fight for one of the WBA’s three heavyweight titles.
Multiple sources have informed BoxingScene.com that negotiations are moving toward the finalization of a deal for Miller to face Fres Oquendo on November 17 at Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City, New Jersey. If, as expected, the deal is completed, Miller and Oquendo will fight for the WBA world heavyweight title in the main event of DAZN card.
Eddie Hearn, one of Miller’s promoters, also has tried to arrange a bout between Miller and WBA interim champion Trevor Bryan (20-0, 14 KOs). Hearn has made more progress with Oquendo’s handlers than with Don King, Bryan’s promoter.
A victory over Oquendo wouldn’t merely make Miller a heavyweight title-holder, it’d move the Brooklyn native closer to the shot he wants at the WBA’s true heavyweight champion, Anthony Joshua. The 30-year-old Miller (22-0-1, 19 KOs) is fresh off knocking out Poland’s Tomasz Adamek (53-6, 31 KOs) in the second round of their scheduled 12-rounder October 6 at Wintrust Arena in Chicago.
For Oquendo, meeting Miller finally would afford him the WBA title shot the Panama-based sanctioning organization legally owes him.
Chicago’s Oquendo (37-8, 24 KOs) was supposed to challenge Manuel Charr (31-4, 17 KOs) for the WBA world heavyweight title September 29 in Cologne, Germany. That fight was canceled on short notice because Charr tested positive for two anabolic steroids, drostanolone and trenbolone, and was stripped that championship.
Charr won the then-vacant WBA world heavyweight title last November 25, when he defeated Russia’s Alexander Ustinov (34-2, 25 KOs) by 12-round unanimous decision in Oberhausen, Germany.
The Charr cancelation marked the second time in 16 months Oquendo’s overdue title shot was postponed due to a PED ordeal. He was supposed to box Brooklyn’s Shannon Briggs for that title in June 2017, but that bout was canceled on short notice once the Voluntary Anti-Doping Association determined Briggs (60-6-1, 53 KOs, 1 NC) had dramatically elevated levels of testosterone in his system.
Oquendo remains in position to fight for a version of the WBA’s heavyweight title because he successfully sued Ruslan Chagaev to get the rematch he was owed according to their contracts. Oquendo hasn’t fought since losing a 12-round majority decision to Uzbekistan’s Chagaev (34-3-1, 21 KOs) in their July 2014 title fight in Grozny, Russia.
Chagaev later lost that title to Australia’s Lucas Browne (26-1, 23 KOs), who knocked out Chagaev in the 10th round of their March 2016 battle in Grozny. The WBA later stripped Browne because he failed a PED test.
The WBA title was then returned to Chagaev, but the WBA eventually stripped him because he failed to pay a sanctioning fee.
Browne was supposed to box Briggs for the vacant championship in December 2016, but Browne tested positive for a PED again and their fight was canceled. That’s when the WBA ordered Oquendo-Briggs.
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.