BOXING

Jarrell “Big Baby” Miller Addresses #TakeAKnee Flap, Calls For Unification of All American People

He has risen up from a curiosity, basically, to a maybe prospect, to prospect, to full fledged contender.

That is in many minds…

In some minds, though, naysaying is still ultra prevalent regarding Jarrell “Big Baby” Miller, the 300 pound heavyweight who next fights, it looks like, Nov. 11 on HBO, from the Nassau Coliseum.

You know people, they like to find negatives. Or manufacture negatives that might not even be applicable.

Like, his size. He wears that 300 pounds real, real well, as seen in his last outing, against Gerald Washington. But sidelines assume he’d be better 50 pounds less. Shit, YOU try losing 50 pounds when you like to eat, and hasn’t he looked damn sharp while being an XXL?

Miller, yes,  looked calm and cool and showed ample stamina as he collected win number 19, taking his record to 19-0-1 (17 KOs) at Barclays Center July 29.

Showtime showed that tango but HBO will televise his next fight, it looks like. Not all Ts have been crossed, so Miller wasn’t able to delve into fully the specifics of his next scrap in the latest Everlast TALKBOX podcast. But it is clear…there is jostling for position to get the inside track on this specimen. What sort of specimen is it? He can bang a bit with both hands, appears to have a top grade chin, is composed in the ring, and he can talk a good as game as he can play.

Miller said yes, there’s been talk of him facing Mariusz Wach Nov. 11 on Long Island, and on HBO. “I have my own promotional company, Big Baby Promotions,” he told us. And no, he’s not signed on with Al Haymon, or with Eddie Hearn, the Brit dealmaker. “And I do have a partner, which is Salita Promotions.”

The jumbo sized boxer isn’t focused simply on the prize, that being a title crown. He hungers to maintain freedom and bargaining power and a knowledge of all angles within his career sphere, reads books to reach that goal, and he also sees a big picture out there, as an athlete-entertainer, one that involves the socio-political realm. We talked about the #TakeAKnee flap, which has seen sides being taken, by those thinking that an NFL game is no place for protest, and believe footballers taking a knee is dissing veterans…and those who see the point that Colin Kaepernick and company wish to convey, that enough is enough regarding police brutality toward young black men, and that more attention needs to be paid to a system which too often encourages an almost flippant propensity for violence at the hands of law enforcement, as compared to how many other nations handle the same sorts of clashes. Miller said he’s cognizant of the #TakeAKnee issue, and why stances are being taken by those participating in the back and forth, including NBAers, as well. But not many boxers, I pointed out…

“I think America’s an amazing country,” Miller told me. “It’s the number one home for immigrants. This whole country was built off the back of immigrants…Donald Trump, definitely what he’s doing is dividing the country. Anyone that wants to not say that is being blind, or plain old stupid. I’m for the people. I’m not Brooklyn’s champ or New York fan’s champ, I’m the Polish fans champ, I’m the Jamaican fan’s champ, I’m the Venezuelan, the Africa, Korean, I’m the Russian, I’m everybody…because at the end of the day, Brooklyn is what made me what I am, and if you’re from Brooklyn, you really grew up in Brooklyn, and you grew up the way how I did, every ethnicity and background was part of me growing up.” He said that the village, composed of so many different flag holders, helped raise him and we must all bond and band together, not allow ourselves to be separated, because that’s the only way to rise above. He said the same holds true in the boxing game, where, he said, the fighters need to stick together. In moments like this, “They can suspend maybe, one, two, three of us, but they can’t suspend all of us,” he said.

He expects more boxers to take a stand, or take a knee, if this issue persists in the media. And once the media really latches on, then change can occur, he stated. “The main thing is being true, the main thing is remembering why we started it, why Kaepernick did take a knee…It’s the same old news, but it’s getting so intolerable, we just can’t take it anymore!”

I told BBM I don’t know what it’s like to be stopped and hassled for the sin of being black, and I know what I don’t know, so I cede the floor to those who walk in those shoes. OK, but it’s up to white men like me, in the media, to take a stand, he told me. “I commend you and every other person that is not of dark complexion that’s jumping up and saying something,” he said. Again came a plea for unification, not of titles, but of all peoples, who need to find common ground, so we can act as a more cohesive national unit. “Like anything else it’s a team sport and we gotta be in it to win it together” Miller continued. Love is the answer, he summated.

Now, out of the socio-political arena, back to the boxing…it looked like Miller was on a parallel track, headed to a collision course, maybe, with Deontay Wilder, who’s been doing his thing on Showtime.

Is he still? “I’m self employed, I don’t have one group I answer to,” Miller told me. No, he’s not signed to Showtime, or HBO. And being a free agent, basically,  that can be a double edged sword. It gives freedom to roam but also there is a missing component of stability. In other words, it’s all a work in progress, this career progression thing.

Miller told us he wasn’t keen on the offer to fight his friend, Polish born Adam Kownacki, another NY-area XXL rumbler, who took a leap to contender status when he beat Artur Szpilka two months ago. He sees Kownacki as a brother-level friend. And he’d consider fighting him, but the timing would have to be more right, he told us at Everlast. “That was an avenue I didn’t want to take yet,” Miller said. He said he understands boxing is a business  “and you can’t take it personal.”

“Adam Kownacki is my Polish brother,” he repeated, and said that he was in Kownacki’s living room watching the Joseph Parker WBO heavyweight title defense against Hughie Fury on Saturday. What is the Polish word for garbage, again, Big Baby asked. “Hughie got a world title shot and he dropped the ball,” opined Miller, and he vowed to not be in the same position, and that is appearing too green to take advantage of a title shot.

And what about Wach? Would the 33-2 hitter, a 6-7 and 37 years old, be  a step up from Washington? “I’m not sleeping on anybody,” he told us. And if that fight occurs, he knows Wach would be “more awkward” than Washington. He can take a helluva punch and has not been stopped from trauma, just cuts. He noted that Wach has popped positive for enhancers, so that would be something he’s aware of.

“I want to be with a team that really believes in me, and puts me first, in many ways,” he said, in wrap up mode.

If it’s with HBO, if it’s with Showtime, he says, he doesn’t want anything handed to him. He wants to EARN IT. And he also took time to shout out Everlast, for providing bags for his gym in Queens.

Oh, and there might be a Big Baby reality show, he shared with us. He finished up with a plea to all to believe in yourself, don’t sell yourself out or short. “Try and love the Brooklyn way…eat a cheeseburger!”

My take: I admitted that I think MIller’s success would be lifting up the sport, and I told him so. He’s engaging. He’s willing to show vulnerability. He can be edgy, but not in an off-putting way. All told, there’s lots there there’s lot to like, of Big Baby.

Michael Woods
About the Author:

Michael Woods.

Host, TALKBOX podcast, powered by EVERLAST; 1st VP, Boxing Writers Association of America; http://NYFights.com is my site

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