Long tall Tyson Fury cast a shadow of shade on Brooklyn-born behemoth Jarrell “Big Baby” Miller by dialing the wayback machine and referring to some sparring that went on between the two back in 2011.
Miller has been doing a slow and steady grind up the ladder, and last week burst onto a new set of radar screens when it was announced that DAZN will screen an Anthony Joshua vs Big Baby Miller showdown from Madison Square Garden on June 1. But back to 2011.
Miller in 2011 was more still in kickboxer mode than in a pugilism head space. he debuted in a boxing ring in 2009, and by the end of 2011 was 2-0 as a pro pugilist. And Fury, who said he put Miller down seven times when he invited the American fighter to spar, was 17-0 by the end of 2011.
“I was back home in Morecambe and I needed a sparring partner, the first person that sprang to mind was Jarrell Miller, I thought he’ll be good sparring for me,” Fury, now working with Top Rank, told The Sun.
“Obviously I wasn’t a world champion at the time, he came over to Morecambe and we sparred at a local gym. I’m not going to go into too much detail, but I hired him for two weeks sparring, I ended up sending him back home after one day sparring. I put him down seven times in the first spar and I sent him home packing back to the USA.”
And by packing, you can note that by 2012, Miller’s kickboxing CV was beefing up mightily and by 2013, he snagged a rock-solid gig against Mirko CroCop.
Seven times in one session, huh? I reached out to Miller’s promoter Dmitriy Salita to get his take on this Fury power combo.
“I wasn’t there but I have never heard of this incident until reading this article,” Salita told me. “Being well aware of gym culture I have never, ever seen anyone dropped seven times during sparring! I don’t think Mike Tyson even did that.
“I can go by facts, facts are that Jarrell has shown to have a great chin and Tyson Fury is not a big puncher, especially with bigger sparring gloves, headgear and gym setting, so this sounds far off. Can Tyson be angling for a fight? Tyson is a good boxer with a great personality so I see Jarrell vs Fury as a very big fight down the line. If Tyson is trying to build that and create some hype I am down with that plan but first things first: June 1st, heavyweight world title unification!”
Fury is showing some out of the ring slickness, on par with his in ring generalship. He said in the stab at Miller: “I think it’s a good fight. Two undefeated fighters and may the best man win. I’m not going to sit here and slag it off, it’s a great boxing fight, defending a world championship. Jarrell and me go way back to 2011, he is a nice fella — I’ve known him for a long time. I wish him all the very best in the fight but at the end of the day I hope Anthony Joshua knocks him into next week, because he’s a British lad and I hope he wins.”
Salita wracked his brain and still couldn’t recall ever hearing about a Fury-Miller sparring session which unfolded so dreadfully for the newbie prizefighter.
“Around that time Tyson Fury spent time at Kronk Gym and I met him, I knew him from training in Detroit with Emanuel Steward,” the former title challenger continued. “2011 was also the year Jarrell first fought on my show, at Roseland Ballroom in Manhattan. I asked Emanuel and Sugar Hill (Steward’s nephew) about both but specifically about Jarrell because he was my friend going to camp with Wladimir Klitschko. Emanuel and Sugar both had good things to say about Jarrell’s boxing ability and I never heard of any such incident (with Fury).”
Your thoughts on this Fury smackdown attempt? I am surprised Fury is dipping so deep into the memory banks for this one. Let’s put this shade-casting incident to the side for safe-keeping, and come back to it if and when Miller and Fury are matched up, in what would be the best faceoff among heavyweights, from a trash-talking perspective.
--Michael Woods, who lives in Brooklyn, publishes NYFights.com, and calls fights for Facebook Fightnight Live, which has drawn over 4 million views over a span of 26 events. He also does the “Talkbox” podcast for Everlast.