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Jarrell Miller’s road back to getting a boxing license

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Jarrell Miller’s situation is an interesting one, with no clear answer as to how or when his boxing career can or will resume at some point.

Anthony Joshua v Jarrell Miller - Press Conference Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images

Jarrell “Big Baby” Miller sits in limbo right now, after word of testing positive for three different banned substances ahead of a planned June 1 showdown against Anthony Joshua at Madison Square Garden in Manhattan hit the wires.

Miller, age 30, who admitted he “messed up,” will not be taking part in that fight versus the Brit champion Joshua, because he’d not be granted a license to box in New York.

A fighter must renew their license in NY, as the license term expires on Oct. 1. Miller hadn’t re-upped his license ahead of that Joshua fight, according to the New York State Athletic Commission. A fighter deals with the athletic commission ahead of any bout they are to take part in; Miller would have been re-upping his license with NYSAC, led by Kim Sumbler, before June 1.

It has been theorized that maybe Miller would be in a gray are; that perhaps because he had no license to revoke, maybe he could skirt a suspension, and thus might be eligible to fight again faster than you might think.

It was noted by promoters Bob Arum that Miller’s case — testing positive for banned substances in samples collected in March by testing agency VADA, which was contracted to screen blood and urine leading up to the June 1 heavyweight clash — contained a curveball.

Arum said that maybe Miller (23-0-1) had a “loophole,” because he had no license to revoke in NY. Promoter Eddie Hearn works with Joshua, and made the Miller vs Joshua match; in a video interview he then said the same thing, that Miller’s case is different, because he had no license to revoke. Hearn did say he didn’t think any commission would let Miller fight any time soon.

Mike Mazzulli is president of the Association of Boxing Commissions. Mazzulli heads up the combat sports arm at Mohegan Sun, in Uncasville, Conn. The ABC is a unified body of all the state and tribal commissions in the United States, and they furnish “unified rules” which give a degree of uniformity to combat sports. Yes, each commission does have their own rules and regulations which might differ according to the state or jurisdiction they are in, but by and large, commissions work within this rules collection so they are on the same page as much as possible. Mazzulli weighed in and shared his take on the Miller case, and how his ability to fight might be affected moving forward.

“Jarrell already tested positive once in California, this is the second time he tested positive,” Mazzulli said. (Miller tested positive following a June 2014 kickboxing match in Cali for methylhexanamine, originally marketed as a nasal dongestant, and acts as a stimulant.)

“Each individual tribal body and state has their own regulations and requirements, but with the positive previous test, Kim Sumbler’s hands are not necessarily tied. Her regulations state she can’t suspend Miller, but she can deny him a license.”

Commissioners do their homework regarding fighters who are looking to take part in a bout in their zone and will see when a fighter has a suspended license in another zone, he continued. “We all adhere to that,” he said.

Yes, this case is different, because BoxRec will note suspensions. But if you go to Miller’s page, there is no note that signals he’s tested PED positive, and he needs to have that issue clarified before gaining a license to fight, in NY or another region.

“I wouldn’t allow Miller to fight for a year and everyone in the industry understands that before he can get back in the ring, he’d have to test negative. Three positives, testing positive for a second time,” Mazzulli said.

He made clear that he takes a hard line against using banned chemicals to try and gain a performance edge, and noted that beyond the fact that it can result in a tilted playing field, there is a possibility that usage of exotic chemicals could result in deleterious health issues down the line. A fighter could well not ponder that possibility, because they are focused on the here and now.

Mazzulli continued and said he wonders about Miller’s team, people who are tasked with helping to “manage” his career, and said he sees too often in the MMA and boxing realms where “managers” aren’t doing proper due diligence in oversight of the combatant.

So, regarding Hearn saying he thinks Miller could fight sooner rather than later — no, there is no hard and fast rule as to length of a ban/suspension for a fighter like Miller who tested positive, and then admitted his usage.

Anthony Joshua v Jarrell Miller - Press Conference Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images

Mazzulli, as noted previously, said at first glance he’d not license Miller to box for a year. Wherever Miller decides he wants to fight, that commission will be tasked with determining whether or not to grant a license. Again, that grey area pops up, because Miller will need to face consequences for testing positive; but under whose jurisdiction?

He isn’t compelled to deal with NY now, because he wasn’t operating under a NY license as he was getting ready to fight Joshua. We’ve seen sanctioning bodies more so take the lead in these matters previously, when a fighter was set to battle for one of those sanctioning bodies’ belt.

Heavyweight Luis Ortiz had to satisfy the WBC after he tested PED positive six weeks before he was to fight Deontay Wilder in NY, in order to get re-licensed to fight. He was yanked from the fight, and a sub (Bermane Stiverne) battled Wilder in Nov. 2017. Ortiz, too, had previously tested positive for a banned substance, in 2014.

Ortiz and his team agreed to terms supplied by the WBC in order for him to be granted the right to fight again for a WBC belt. He didn’t receive a lengthy ban from participating in the sport, because his team argued that the chemical found in his system was used to combat high blood pressure, and wouldn’t be used as a “performance enhancer.” Miller’s case would likely be treated differently because, as has been reported and not refuted by the Miller team, he had GW1516, HGH and EPO in his system. Those chemicals can aid in muscle building, fat loss and stamina building.

“ABC will be getting involved more in the testing realm,” Mazzulli told me. “That will be discussed in our annual meeting in Arizona in July.”

No favors were done for Miller when someone who works for his co-promoter, Sarah Fina, initially ID’d his “promoter” in British press, went public blaming “racism” for the reaction to the Miller positives.

Miller has laid low after initially proclaiming his innocence, and then reversing course and admitting his PED usage in a video plea after the third positive was reported. His road back to prominence — especially after he accused Joshua of being a PED user — will be rocky, quite likely. And it isn’t clear on what road he will look to travel to come back from this knockdown. That is more than partly due to the fact that boxing doesn’t have a central body of authority which can handle this sort of matter.