By Keith Idec
Jarrell Miller wasn’t impressed by anything Gerald Washington did during his heavyweight title fight against Deontay Wilder.
Washington was competitive with Wilder before the unbeaten WBC champion hurt him with a right hand in the fifth round and finished him four months ago in Birmingham, Alabama. Their February 25 fight at Legacy Arena was even on two scorecards (38-38) and Wilder led on the third card (39-37) when their scheduled 12-rounder was stopped in the fifth round.
Miller (18-0-1, 16 KOs), who’ll fight Washington (18-1-1, 12 KOs) on July 29 at Barclays Center in Brooklyn, considers the competitive nature of Wilder-Washington more a reflection of what Wilder didn’t do than what Washington did.
“The reason why he gave Deontay trouble is because Deontay is a punk himself,” Miller told BoxingScene.com. “Deontay is a big goofball … and he got tired. If Deontay came out and he was ready to bang with him a little harder in the beginning, it probably would’ve ended a little quicker. But Deontay was looking up at the ceiling, looking at the odds and praying to God that he would come out safe.
“But he went in there kind of scared because he was fighting someone around his height. And the minute he realized, ‘Oh, this guy’s a big softie, he started putting the pressure on him and started going for broke.”
The trash-talking Miller, who’ll turn 29 on July 15, doesn’t think Washington even deserved a title shot. Washington was a late replacement for Poland’s Andrzej Wawrzyk (33-1, 19 KOs), who failed a test for a performance-enhancing drug.
Miller also feels Wilder “most definitely” took Washington lightly because he figured his fight against the former USC football player basically was a tune-up disguised as a title defense.
“You’ve gotta understand this – No. 1, Gerald Washington wasn’t even in any of the rankings,” Miller said. “Not the WBC, not the WBO, not the IBF, nor the WBA. And he said because Gerald Washington was a nice guy, I’m gonna pick him as an opponent. So anybody that’s talking trash to Deontay, Deontay didn’t wanna fight.
“So he chose Gerald Washington because Gerald Washington was humble and a nice guy. No, he fought a guy who was a punk and wasn’t calling him out. You know, so it was kind of like a fight from left field, because Gerald Washington was a nice guy. Get out of here. Deontay’s a punk.”
Washington actually was ranked No. 10 by the WBC when Wilder chose him to replace Wawrzyk late in January.
Miller, meanwhile, hasn’t fought since he stopped New Orleans’ Fred Kassi (18-6-1, 10 KOs) on August 19 in Rochester, New York.
The promotional squabble that caused much of Miller’s long layoff has been resolved. Miller started his own promotional company, but will continue to be co-promoted by companies owned by retired welterweight Dmitriy Salita and Greg Cohen.
“I’m so happy,” Miller said. “I can’t wait to knock [Washington] out and go to Disneyland. I’m super-stoked. I’m hyped. I’m ready to go.”
The Brooklyn native doesn’t expect Washington to go the distance in a fight scheduled for 10 rounds.
“He likes to run, so he’s in the wrong sport,” Miller said. “This ain’t track. So I’m gonna bust his behind worse than Deontay did.”
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.