It’s been expected news for some time, and now it’s official: Top Rank have signed heavyweight Jarrell “Big Baby” Miller, meaning the unbeaten (by everyone but VADA) heavyweight is coming to ESPN.
Miller (23-0-1, 20 KO) is one of boxing’s most controversial names right now, which isn’t all bad if you’re a promoter. The 31-year-old heavyweight from Brooklyn became one of the biggest boxing stories of 2019, but not in the way he wanted. He was signed up to face Anthony Joshua on June 1 at Madison Square Garden, but instead spectacularly failed three drug tests and was pulled from the fight, eventually replaced by Andy Ruiz Jr, and the rest is history there. He and his team went on a now-hilarious rampage of denial, which by the next day saw Miller changing his tune to admitting wrongdoing. He would later kind of backtrack on that, too, but by then it didn’t matter much to anyone.
It was never in question that Miller would eventually be back in boxing. This is not a particularly well-regulated sport, and the fact is that good or bad, he’s got some name value, frankly more now than he’s ever had before. If nothing else, people might tune in to root against him.
By September, it was reported that Top Rank and Miller were in “advanced negotiations,” but the deal kept sitting there waiting to get done. A couple of weeks ago a deal was reportedly verbally in place, and now we’ve got it proper and official.
Miller adds some veteran heft to Top Rank’s heavyweight stable, which is led by LINEAL!!!!!!!!!!! champion Tyson Fury and also includes Kubrat Pulev (who will likely be facing Anthony Joshua next), Agit Kabayel, Bryant Jennings, and Carlos Takam, along with prospects Guido Vianello, Jared Anderson (another “Big Baby”), and Sonny Conto.
Jennings or Takam could fit the bill for a Miller return, possibly, but it’s also just as likely Top Rank will look around for some veteran journeyman/gatekeeper type outside of their team, as Miller hasn’t fought since Nov. 2018. It’s entirely possible we see “Big Baby” in with someone like Artur Szpilka, Joey Abell, Bermane Stiverne, Iago Kiladze — someone like that. Hell, maybe Tom Schwarz is up for another vacation in the States.
A lot of people on social media are very mad, declaring this a grand disgrace, which honestly makes me wonder what sport they’ve been watching, but that’s another story. Bottom line is Miller is coming to ESPN soon enough, his career will resume, and life and the sport go on.