“Big Baby” Lost Momentum in His Time to Shine

“Big Baby” Lost Momentum in His Time to Shine

He weighed a svelte 283 pounds, 15 pounds less than he did for his last televised fight. And that led many, including me, to accept the possibility that he just might make a statement in another high profile bout on national television….especially when promoter Eddie Hearn said that with a good showing against Mariusz Wach he could end up as IBF/WBA champ Anthony Joshua’s next opponent.

In addition to that, Jarrell “Big Baby” Miller 20-0-1 (19) talked a great fight in the days before the bout and that is much a part of his charm. His best pre-fight thoughts were…..“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!”

No, I never believed “Big Baby” had anything other than Plan A, but his Muhammad Ali wannabe personality works for him, but only if he looks good when he fights. The heavyweight division is hungry for contenders who can stimulate interest in it. Other than the anticipation of Anthony Joshua facing Deontay Wilder (and hopefully soon), there’s no other really big time match-ups in waiting. Joseph Parker, who holds the WBO title, doesn’t draw any attention except when he fights on his home turf of New Zealand. And many fans and observers see him as an upper-tier contender more than a legitimate champion.

Tyson Fury, the last undisputed champ, stimulated all kind of attention and debate when he was active, but he hasn’t fought in nearly two years and has endured all kind of turmoil in his personal life. Eventually Fury will be back and when he returns there will be a lot of interest in what he has to say. The downside is that between the long layoff and the 100-plus pounds he’s gained during his inactivity, I’d be willing to bet a lot of money that the in- shape and difficult-to-fight version of Fury who won a unanimous decision over Wladimir Klitschko is gone forever. Sure, he’ll be back to challenge Joshua because the money is too great to pass up, but his heart is no longer in it and he views AJ as his pension fight more than his legacy fight.

Daniel Dubois 5-0 (5) of the UK is making a lot of noise and showing promise but he’s a couple of years away from challenging Joshua or Wilder, assuming that Deontay still holds a title when Dubois arrives. And that brings us back to “Big Baby.” He had a great opportunity this past weekend to make a statement, the way Wilder did the previous weekend against Bermane Stiverne, but he failed. Yes, he got the win, stopping Wach in the ninth round, but not in a definitive way. Wach, 37, was 10 pounds heavier than he was for his last high profile bout against Alexander Povetkin, he reportedly injured his right hand in the seventh round, and yet Miller never really hurt him or had his big foe close to being in trouble, not that I could see.

Miller’s showing was solid in that he did put his punches together in two- and three-punch sequences, but what stood out more than anything else was his lack of fight-altering power. Wach was a huge target and Miller had no problem finding openings. When he really let his hands go, he landed at will, but nothing happened. And maybe worse than that was how easily Wach was able to hit Miller in return. No, he never even tickled Miller with anything he landed, but he sure found the upright, lack of any movement “Big Baby,” an easy target. It’s hard to envision Miller being around long if either Joshua or Wilder caught him with the same ease that Wach did.

George Benton, the great trainer from Philadelphia, had a saying: “Let’s win this one and we’ll look better in the next one.” The problem for Miller was this was the next one that he was supposed to look good in, and he didn’t distinguish himself as a real threat to any title-holder in the division other than perhaps Parker. He lost some momentum and a potential fight with Joshua or Wilder lost luster. Luckily for Miller, today’s heavyweight division isn’t loaded with talent. There are some interesting fights that could be made, say Luis Ortiz versus Miller or Povetkin, but there’s nobody out there that looks special. “Big Baby” isn’t a big joke, but it’s hard to see him being a legitimate threat to Joshua and maybe not even to Wilder.

I think Miller’s lack of punching power may kill off the act. His whole thing is being a funny, larger than life guy who can punch — except he can’t punch. He’s more Buster Mathis (although not nearly as good) than George Foreman. It just may be that Miller’s size and personality, and not how good he can fight, is the driving force that will keep him in line as a potential opponent for Anthony Joshua.

Frank Lotierzo can be contacted at GlovedFist@Gmail.com

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