Two nights before boxing superstar Miguel Cotto fights in Brooklyn at the Barclays Center, Dmitriy Salita’s Star of David Promotions presented a card at the Paramount Center, headlined by heavyweight hopeful and Brooklyn native Jarrell “Big Baby” Miller. Miller defeated Damon McCreary by Round 2 TKO, improving his record to 13-0-1 with XX KOs.
At 26, has yet to do anything truly significant in the boxing world. McCreary’s biggest claim to fame is getting knocked out by current WBC heavyweight belt holder Deontay Wilder. He was also knocked out by Ali Mansour and Charles Martin. He’s a journeyman fighter who gets knocked out by undefeated rising contenders.
Still, boxing fans don’t need to see a lot to start pinning their hopes to a heavyweight contender. And Miller has shown more than enough to raise interest. At 6’4” and between 260 and 275 pounds, he’s a very large man with some athleticism and a fighting spirit. That’s a package that can take a boxer pretty far, especially in today’s depleted heavyweight market.
Probably the most interesting thing about Miller is his kickboxing career. He took up the sport at 14, to learn how to defend himself, and added boxing two years later. He is far more accomplished in kickboxing, holding a victory over UFC veteran Pat Barry, one of the better strikers to compete in MMA in recent years. Miller lost two decisions in 2014 to kickboxing and MMA legend Mirko “Cro Cop” Filipovic.
There are significant differences between the two sports, and the talent pool for pure boxing is much deeper. But aspects of ring generalship and gauging distance are very similar, so Miller has a lot more experience to draw upon than other boxers with a similar number of fights against a similar level of competition. If nothing else, Miller has already gained experience facing high-profile opponents.
For a writer to declare a fighter with just 13, low-level bouts the “next big thing” is like begging the boxing gods to make you look stupid. I’m hardly prepared to go out on that kind of limb for Miller right now.
However, he’s been on my radar for a while now, and will stay there. He’s an outgoing personality with a sense for marketing himself. Even before the fight with McCrary this week, he was already calling out Britain’s Anthony Joshua, one of the division’s fastest rising stars. We’re still a solid year or more from seeing it happen, but there’s the potential for a fight between Miller and Joshua to be one that generates big-time enthusiasm on both sides of the Atlantic.