Who can take someone nicknamed “Big Baby” all that serious, especially if he’s a fighter? I’ll tell you who, the three men who hold most of the heavyweight hardware and are considered to be at the top of the food chain in the division, namely IBF/WBA title holder Anthony Joshua 20-0 (20), WBC belt holder Deontay Wilder 39-0 (38) and Joseph Parker 24-0 (18), the WBO champion. In the near future one of those three men will have to put their title on the line against Jarrell “Big Baby” Miller 19-0-1 (17), assuming that Miller wins this weekend.
The 6-4, 295-pound Miller, 29, will fight former world title challenger Mariusz Wach, 33-2 (17) this Saturday at the Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum in Uniondale on New York’s Long Island. Although it hasn’t officially been deemed as such, after listening to promoter Eddie Hearn speak via teleconference, the winner will become the IBF’s number-one challenger.
Miller, who has already fought on Showtime, will make his HBO debut looking to secure a title shot with a win and good showing over Wach who has won two straight since losing via stoppage due to a facial cut in the 12th round versus Alexander Povetkin in November of 2015 for the WBC Silver title. Wach’s only world title shot came against the universally recognized champ at the time, Wladimir Klitschko, in November of 2012. He managed to go the distance with Klitschko and never went down, but lost every round on two of the scorecards and never provided Wladimir with more than a single close call.
After Miller stopped Gerald Washington in his last fight, I wrote, “Miller is a player in the division. He’s a big guy and he’s not jiggly fat. His mass walking down his opponent is taxing both mentally and physically. And if you can’t punch hard enough to give him trepidation about bringing the fight to you, you’re in trouble.”
Wach stands 6-7 and is in the 260-pound range, so on paper this should be a good test for Miller, but because he’s not a big puncher, Wach will probably not be able to discourage “Big Baby” from pressing the action. Wach will look to keep Miller off with his long jab and in the process will use his legs to keep him turning. After his title bout against Klitschko he was praised for his sturdy chin and the durability he showed. Wladimir’s right hand, when it lands clean, is no doubt one of the biggest single shot punches in the history of the division, and he landed more than a few on Wach and nothing happened. Conversely, Wach wobbled Wladimir in the fifth round with a good right hand and a couple follow up shots, but Klitschko rode out the storm. In the seventh and eighth rounds Klitschko landed his Sunday right hand almost at will. Wach was visibly shook and the referee seemed close to ending the onslaught but Wach survived to the final bell, which says something about his ability to catch a big shot.
For this fight it’s imperative for Miller to show he can slip a jab and get inside. He’s been all over social media trashing Anthony Joshua and Deontay Wilder with his typical bravado, suggesting they both fear him. Both have sound jabs. In addition to that they use their jab to set up their good right hands….which dictates that Miller will have to neutralize their jab to escape their power. Pulling that off against Wach would be a good start.
Many scoff at Miller’s physique but I think that’s a mistake. His physicality makes him a problem because he’s strong and hard to move and punching him actually takes a lot out of you. I doubt Wach will be able to hold him off for long, but at the next level Miller is going to need to refine his game. Walking through Wach’s offense is one thing, if he can. But against Joshua or Wilder, he’ll need to show that he carries enough power to make them uncomfortable if he can get inside. From what I saw in his last fight against Washington, Miller will need a more imaginative offense to compete. Of the two he probably matches up better with Wilder because I don’t think Deontay is as hard or as dangerous to carry the fight to, as opposed to Joshua. Miller has stopped his last eight opponents but some believe Wach has the savvy and experience to trouble him.
One thing for sure is that Miller isn’t at a loss for words:
“Wach is just going to be another guy that I am going to crush. Come November 11 everyone is going to know what I’m capable of doing. I am bringing a whole different kind of Big Baby, a whole different kind of animal, a whole different kind of look.”
“I always beat people on Plan A – I don’t even have to go to Plan B but I am going to pull tricks out of the hat so I can show people what a real heavyweight looks like with the skills I have. Nobody moves like me in the heavyweight division. My ring IQ is definitely unbeatable and on November 11 you are going to see a different style of Big Baby and it’s going to be fun…I am the Big Baby, but I am going to give him the pacifier and put him in the crib!”
That remains to be seen, but I have to go with Miller to beat Wach and position himself for a title shot. Miller is a colorful and amusing guy and for such a big man he’s mobile and actually has better footwork than Wilder. And more importantly, his managers and promoters have faith in him by putting him in with a solid guy like Wach…more faith than most managers have in their young heavyweights these days.
If “Big Baby” goes through Wach — and by that I mean really beats him up and wins by stoppage — I will see him as threat to Wilder and Joshua, a far bigger threat than Wilder and Joshua’s last two opponents. I expect him to get his chances against Wach because he lets his hands go when he’s pressured, so there should be some opportunities for exchanges and how much damage Miller does during them will convey a lot.
If he takes Wach apart, and that’s what to watch for, I’d view him as a legitimate threat to all three title holders.
Frank Lotierzo can be contacted at GlovedFist@Gmail.com
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