By Andy Brooks: Heavyweight Jarrell “Big Baby” Miller (19-0-1, 17 KOs) will be testing himself tonight against aging fringe level contender Mariusz Wach (33-2, 17 KOs) in the co-feature bout on the Daniel “Miracle Man” Jacobs vs. Luis Arias card on HBO Boxing at the Nassau Coliseum in Uniondale, New York.
Miller came in at 283 pounds at Friday’s weigh-in, and he looked in shape for a change. In his last couple of fights, Miller has weighed in at 298 and 296 and looked like he’d trained at a fast food joint. Miller took off 15 pounds, and he looks much better than he has in a long time. That’s good news.
This is the first fight for Miller with Matchroom Sport promoter Eddie Hearn and his first fight with HBO. Miller is being groomed by Hearn to be matched against his flagship heavyweight Anthony Joshua for either next year or 2019. You can argue that Miller is the Plan-B option for Hearn if one of his 3 fights for Joshua falls through next year. Hearn has three big names in mind for Joshua in Joseph Parker, Deontay Wilder and Tyson Fury. Miller could get the call if Hearn has difficulties negotiating with one of those guys.
Wach, 37, is a decent test for Miller, but still not a good enough test to find out if he’s as good as some in the boxing world thinks he is. Wach weighed in at his second highest weight of his career at 268 pounds at last Friday’s weigh-in, and doesn’t look like he trained very hard. Given how old and out of shape Wach is at this point, Miller will win without any problems, but he won’t have proven anything in winning this fight. HBO probably should have insisted on Miller fighting a better opponent, considering that the main event between Jacobs and Arias is a mismatch as well. You’d like to see at least one good fight in the two main fights on a card. When you have 2 mismatches like Jacobs-Arias and Miller-Wach, it’s bad news for the boxing fans that invest in watching the card.
“Put him in with Dillian Whyte, that would be good. The winner would prove he is the next in line to try and get a shot at the world titles,” said former super middleweight champion Carl Froch to skysports.com.
Hearn probably could have matched Miller against Whyte, but he would have had to overpay for the fight. Whyte would want good money to risk losing his #1 position with the World Boxing Council in a fight with Miller. Whyte doesn’t look capable of beating a fighter like Miller with his high volume work rate. Miller has already said this week that he would “beat the brakes” off of Whyte if the fight were to happen. Don’t hold your breath waiting for Hearn to put Whyte in with Miller though. Hearn is saving Whyte for a title shot against WBC heavyweight champion Deontay Wilder or a rematch with Joshua. He’s not going to have his plans dashed by putting Whyte in with Miller and watching him implode the way he did in his 7th round knockout loss to Joshua in 2015.
“Miller looks like a lot of fun during fight week, but he’s not up at the elite level in the heavyweight division,” said Froch. “It is a small pond, with a couple of very big fish at the moment, so it is hard to see how he gets up there – although talking a good game always helps.”
Miller is a great talker, but he looks pretty limited in terms of his talent. Gerald Washington came close to knocking out Miller in his last fight in July. Miller took a real beating from Washington in the 5th round. If not for Washington gassing out, he would have stopped Miller in that round. Miller was taking terrible punishment without even trying to block the shots. If someone like Deontay Wilder or Joshua had been inserted in place of Washington, Miller wouldn’t have made it out of the 5th. That fight showed that Miller is not going to go far in the division. However, Miller certainly has enough talent to destroy Wach, and he’s probably more than good enough to beat Whyte and Dereck Chisora if given the chance to fight either of them.
(Photo credit Marilyn Paulino, Matchroom, Salita Promotions)