He played the mother card and I wasn’t surprised by it, he’d done it before.
On Tuesday at Madison Square Garden, Jarrell “Big Baby” Miller proved himself — well, it depends on what you think of someone playing the mother card, as the Brooklyn-born hitter did as he barked at Anthony Joshua. He proved himself a little brave, a little crazy and yes, an effective hype man.
But, we wonder: does he know what he’s getting into? I’m putting this out there and telling you, I think he does.
I think he’s looking to get into the head of Joshua — who yes, has seemed unflappable to this point — and I think it’s maybe worked, judging by AJ’s response at the MSG presser.
Miller, age 30, cast aspersions on AJ’s mom back in July, when DAZN had their opening gala presser downtown to hype their new foray into pugilism. On that day, AJ was present to hype his forthcoming clash against Alexander Povetkin at Wembley in England, while Miller was helping introuduce himself to prospective subscribers. He’d be fighting a less dazzling foe, Tomasz Adamek, on a DAZN card unfolding in Chicago. On that day, AJ was none too pleased; he perseverated on it some, but didn’t allow himself to get side-tracked, because he knew he had Povetkin, a savvy Russian, on his plate.
But now it’s Miller fully in his sights.
They came together today, when Michael Buffer brought them together and just as quickly, went separate. Miller right away gave AJ a hard shove but AJ didn’t go into ballistic or mock ballistic WE mode. He came right back at Miller and they stared down, with bulky blockers in between.
Onlookers heard chatter, back and forth, about moms. “I will take your mom out.” “NO, I will take yours out.” Yep, it went THERE. This didn’t seem like regular old trash talk — I shove you, you push me, we see how WWE does it. You can see in pics by Ed Mullholland the ire on AJ’s face.
Miller co-promoter Dmitriy Salita loved what he was seeing.
“Focused, I saw determination, aggressiveness. His first first fight with me was in 2011, he was still a young kid, early 20s, he fought a tough kid from Houston, was tested physically and mentally. And I understood he had all the ingredients to be heavyweight champion. Now, this is one of the biggest fights in boxing, versus AJ, and Jarrell can join the list of Tyson and Bowe, from Brooklyn,” Salita said.
“And yes, he’s trying to get into AJ’s head, I think he’s doing well at that. It think it has to. AJ is very experienced, mentally very strong, at the highest level, it’s not easy to get into his head and to affect him.”
He’s basically saying, it isn’t easy to get into his head, and that’s why Miller had to bring out a big caliber insult gun.
Things settled some from there. Buffer went back to introing, and I noted that nobody holds 300 pounds as well as Miller does. He’s no tub of goo, the man truly is BIG BONED.
”Calm. Calm,” asked Eddie Hearn.
He asked Miller to have a seat, and Miller said he would damn well do say when he wanted to. He then asked the fighters to “respect the code of the professional boxing.” Meaning, let’s keep it clean(ish).
And calm prevailed, by and large. Hearn said that the pre-sale for this event has done record business. No, I don’t know how many pre-sale tix were bought by people who will then try to sell them on the secondary market. But if that is the case, that speaks to re-sellers’ belief that a ticket to the June 1 promotion will be a must-get.
You had to chuckle, maybe, when you saw MSG executive Joel Fisher admit that the presser was a bit more zesty than he’d hoped.
“I want to welcome both of them and we look forward to a tremendous night,” he said, before noting that John L. Sullivan defended his heavyweight crown at the first Garden.
Miller took the mic and took off his glasses, after promoters and executives had their say. He said he’s been eating and sleeping AJ. And that’s because he’s come up the hard way. Vienna sausage, no filet mignons, Wonder Bread.
“Kool Aid with no mother fuckin’ sugar,” he said, flashing back to tough times.
He recalled that he spent time in Belize, and had relatives who had no shoes on their feet. He was psyching himself up, making it more clear that he was here for a reason.
But he was pushin’ buttons. He said supposedly AJ sold weed back in the day, and he too acted up as a teen. Both are now being smarter in honing their street instincts. He continued, saying “this is the gutter table, this is the New York table,” he said, deriding AJ for getting $500 facials.
People on the dais shifted uncomfortably when he said that humble actors are full of it. He said he will play by his rules, because none of the people who opine are paying in to keep his family afloat.
“We all going down one day, I lost five people since the year started, five. Playing with them on Christmas. I ain’t afraid of death. I done had guns in my face three times growing up,” he said, and ended up by suggesting we all “be real to ourselves.”
AJ accused him of acting and they traded barbs, Miller saying his mama had a tear in her eye when she saw him.
“Miller’s a little bitch, I’m gonna knock him the fuck out June first,” he said. “There’s no doubt about that,” and he slammed him as a “drug abuser” and “the softest puncher in the heavyweight division.”
AJ got down with him, and asked him where his mother was, and noted that he was now paying her rent.
Miller then accused AJ of being a PED user, and AJ said he was pudgy, and Miller said his mom liked a pudgy fella. “Uncle Tom,” he called AJ.
”Where is she,” AJ asked of Miller’s mum, and yes, there was more uncomfortable shifting on the dais. Another mom joke from BBM, then another.
“Ex kick-boxer, PED user,” said AJ.
Yes, in case anyone was wondering, this felt “real” and I do believe Miller has a method to the madness. He’d like AJ, who just keeps getting more seasoned, to revert to form, fight with more heart than brain.
Questions from the press assembled were taken. Tidbits from that:
—“I’ll knock him out,” AJ promised, and Miller said he’d never been down in a bout, boxing or kickboxing. Eddie Hearn asked BBM to tone down the language, after an F bomb.
—AJ said he would train out of Brooklyn at Gleason’s, the famed and fabled fight factory.
—”You need a villain to your superhero story,” BBM said to AJ, who he called a “prima donna.”
—”I take my time coming to your mom’s room,” BBM said, and then AJ asked where his mum was. The NY-er derided the size of AJ’s member, then. More shifting on the dais.
—”Don’t put words in your mouth, only penises,” said BBM, offering another jab at AJ. (And yes, we must offer that in this age most folks do understand that making such a crack is frowned upon, because it implies that homosexual acts are deviant and to be mocked. We’d not miss this out of the Miller repertoire.)
And to end the event, AJ asked Miller to stay seated and keep taking questions, but Miller said he was done, and he jetted. So the Brit took more questions, and he kept taking shots at the now departed challenger. “Stupid and ignorant,” he deemed Miller.
He was composed now, but let’s see how the buildup, which is a few months long, how much getting his buttons pushed does or does not affect him.
Readers, talk to me. What was your takeaway on the Miller strategy, the mom talk and such? Will it work, or will it only serve to catalyze AJ, and make him that much more effective?
Check out more of Miller, from the Talkbox podcast; he joined us way back on episode six, and we learned much more about where Miller came from.