Jarrell ‘Big Baby’ Miller turns down Kubrat Pulev fight
By Allan Fox: After much thought, Jarrell ‘Big Baby’ Miller (21-0-1, 18 KOs) has turned down an IBF heavyweight eliminator bout against former world title challenger Kubrat Pulev (25-1, 13 KOs). This was a strategic move on Miller’s part, as he avoids a difficult fight against a tough fighter in his hometown.
Miller, 29, would have had it tough trying to deal with the powerful jab and the home country of the 6’4 ½” Bulgarian Pulev.
Miller is the second well-known heavyweight that has turned down a fight against Pulev. Before Miller turned down the fight, Dillian Whyte chose not to take the fight, which would have involved him needing to leave the safe confines of the UK to fight Pulev in Bulgaria. Miller reportedly was interested in facing Pulev, but only in the United States. However, Miller’s management lost the purse bid for the control of the fight, and that put ‘Big Baby’ in the position where he would have needed to travel to Bulgaria for him to take the fight. Pulev doesn’t have a history of winning controversial decisions in Bulgaria, so it’s unclear what the concern is by Miller’s management to have him fight there.
Miller plans on going after the WBA ‘regular’ heavyweight title held by Manuel Charr (31-4, 17 KOs). Miller already is in line to fight the winner of the September 29th fight between Charr and Fres Oquendo (37-8, 24 KOs) in Cologne, Germany.
It’s obviously a weak move on Miller’s part to fight the winner of the Charr-Oquendo, but it gives him his best chance of winning a heavyweight title. If Miller fought Pulev, there’s a good chance that he would lose that fight due to Pulev’s experience, size and boxing skills. Miller looked poor in stepping it up in his last fight against Johann Duhaupas last April.
Miller’s decision not to take the fight with Pulev means that he won’t get a career high payday of $527,777.75, according to Dan Rafael. That would account for 25% of the total purse for the fight. The deadline for Miller to agree to the fight with Pulev and sign the contract was on Monday. Miller’s management Dmitry Salita and Greg Cohen informed the International Boxing Federation that he wouldn’t be taking the fight with the 37-year-old Pulev.
Miller and Pulev were supposed to fight in an IBF title eliminator with the victor of the fight being the mandatory challenger for IBF heavyweight champion Anthony Joshua. Miller will take a different path to a title shot against the 6’6” Joshua.
“The winner of that fight must fight Jarrell Miller within 90 days,” Miller’s promoter Greg Cohen said to ESPN.com. “We are considering a potential tune-up fight for some time in September to early October for Jarrell. Dmitry and I are discussing some options, but the agenda now is to fight the winner of Charr and Oquendo for the WBA regular title.”
If Miller faces the Charr vs. Oquendo winner, he has a very good chance of winning. He can then use the WBA title as bait to get a better financial deal for a fight against IBF/WBA/WBO heavyweight champion Anthony Joshua. Miller would have the secondary WBA title if he wins the strap from the Charr-Oquendo winner. Joshua holds the primary WBA title, called WBA Super World belt. If Miller had the skills, he could go the tougher route by facing the Pulev in the IBF title eliminator, because he’s gain more respect from the boxing public if he were to beat him. However, Miller’s last performance against Duhaupas showed that it would be too risky for him to take on a guy with the skills that Pulev possess. Hence, Miller is going after the softer target of facing the winner of the Charr-Oquendo fight. It’s a good thing for Miller that he can get a title shot against the winner of the Charr vs. Oquendo fight within 90 days. But it’s kind of disappointing that Miller is taking a soft path rather than going after Pulev, who would likely give him a lot of problems.
The 6’4”, 300 lb. Miller has a contract with HBO, so they’ll likely televise his tune-up fight on their network. One would hope that Miller fights a quality opponent, as the boxing that subscribe to HBO would prefer to see quality fights for their money rather than another mismatch. In the last two years, Miller has beaten former heavyweight title challengers Gerald Washington, Mariusz Wach and Johann Duhaupas. However, the performances from Miller weren’t impressive enough to suggest that he’ll beat Joshua and WBC heavyweight champion Deontay Wilder. Miller doesn’t have to worry about fighting either of those guys for the time being, since he’s going for the weaker option in looking to fight the Oquendo vs. Charr winner for the regular WBA heavyweight title. All Miller needs to do is get a fight against Joshua to make huge cash. It doesn’t matter that he’ll likely be hopelessly over-matched against him. The money he’ll make against Joshua will be huge if/when he gets a fight against him in the near future. If Miller can pick up the WBA ‘regular’ belt in 2018, he could get a fight against Joshua by 2019.