By Jake Donovan
Jarrell ‘Big Baby’ Miller has done some outrageous stuff outside the ring in 2019.
Turning down a fight with Tyson Fury, however, is not on that list.
The unbeaten Brooklyn-bred heavyweight heard his named dropped on the Aug. 17 ESPN boxing telecast, where England’s Fury (28-0-1, 20KOs) was on hand and interviewed, in part to explain his choice of Sweden’s Otto Wallin (20-0, 13KOs) as his next opponent.
The bout—which will take place Sept. 14 in Las Vegas, Nev.—hasn’t exactly been embraced by the boxing community. The response has put the undefeated former lineal champion on the defensive in justifying why he settled on the Swedish southpaw as his next foe.
“We offered to fight to Kubrat Pulev, Alexander Povetkin, Charles Martin, Trevor Bryan, Jarrell Miller… the list goes on and on,” Fury claimed during an on-air interview. “All these guys were either unable to fight or not willing.”
As is the case with a lot of what the 6’9” heavyweight claims, the statement doesn’t entirely ring true.
“How can we turn down a fight we were never officially offered,” Greg Cohen, Miller’s co-promoter noted to BoxingScene.com upon reading the claim over the weekend. “Yes, we spoke with Top Rank (Fury’s co-promoter) about the fight—I would describe those talks as tangential conversations, at best.
“There were never serious discussions about Tyson Fury fighting Jarrell on that date—and there certainly wasn’t an offer made.”
Miller (23-0-1, 20KOs) has yet to fight in 2019. The brash heavyweight contender was due to face then-unbeaten, unified titlist Anthony Joshua on June 1 at Madison Square Garden, but blew the opportunity of a lifetime after testing positive for multiple banned substances.
The infraction resulted in his being denied a boxing license by the New York State Athletic Commission, along with the World Boxing Association (WBA)—with whom Miller was highly ranked at the time—handing down a six-month suspension.
Technically, Miller is free to fight anywhere in the United States or any other country that will grant him a license. Because of his longtime standing with the WBA, the 31-year old contender and his team decided to honor the ruling in full, with said suspension due to expire on September 19.
Of course, that hasn’t prevented other heavyweights from using his name as leverage at the negotiating table.
“It’s very easy for any heavyweight from (late April, when the positive drug tests were first reported) through present day to claim they want to fight Big Baby,” points out Cohen. “Maybe Mr. Fury was led to believe that we were offered the fight and that we declined. But I’m not going to waste time wondering why he would make such a claim.
“What I can tell you is that, a month from now, Jarrell ‘Big Baby’ Miller will be free from the WBA suspension and is very eager to return to the ring as soon as possible. Once he’s cleared, we will happily entertain any real fight offer that is made to us. By then, it won’t be as easy for others to mention his name without having to actually follow through.”
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox