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Jerry Forrest confident he’ll upset Jarrell Miller on July 9

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Heavyweight underdog Jerry Forrest says it won’t even matter if “Big Baby” is clean or not.

Dave Mandel/SHOWTIME

Jarrell Miller hasn’t fought in a long time. That will change come July 9, when the New York-based boxer gloves up in Las Vegas on ESPN.

Miller’s opportunity of a lifetime got set up for June 2019, when he was slated to step up for a big money fight against Anthony Joshua at Madison Square Garden.

The opportunity and the bloated payoff went off the rails, though, because of PED positives; and Miller, the charismatic plus-sized pugilist, saw Andy Ruiz step in, step up, and win the upset of the year.

Upset, massively pertinent word.

Miller wasn’t pleased. How could he be, after toiling as a kickboxer, and then as a pro boxer since 2009? He edged up the ladder, with promoter Dmitriy Salita doing a patient and diligent job in building the “Big Baby” record to a gaudy place, while the boxer honed his persona. That effort would be paid in full June 1, 2019 — before word dropped that Miller’s specimens showed banned chemicals. Salita and co-promoter Greg Cohen could pretty much just watch as fate took a turn. Miller said that the positives — for EPO, GW1516 and also HGH — were not in his system deliberately.

The 31-year-old Miller, who regularly weighs in the neighborhood of 300 pounds for his fights, last gloved up on Nov. 17, 2018, grabbing a stoppage over Bogdan Dinu.

Will there be rust? Will his head be screwed on straight as he’ll need to be, against foe Jerry Forrest? We’ll have to tune in and see.

These days, Miller is promoted by Bob Arum and Top Rank, and they’ve been flurrying wit h fights in Nevada, where the Miller-Forrest bout will land. Boxing is the sport for second and third chances, which makes sense, because it attracts people that are not societal square pegs. This will be a third chance for Miller, who had popped positive in California for a kickboxing bout in 2014.

Forrest, now repped by Lou DiBella, is talking a magnificent game, and is maintaining that he’s going to wreck the back to boxing party for the 6’4” Miller, who turns 32 on July 15. Darn right, he’s well aware of the baggage attached to Miller, and wasn’t afraid to broach the subject in our chat.

“I’m super pumped, truly,” said Forrest, who lives in Virginia. “I’m going to box his shoes off.”

I first saw about Miller’s comeback on the Twitter timelines of Chris Mannix and Mike Coppinger June 16. Salita had told me June 10 that Miller would be fighting by July.

The fight game journos will all be curious how Miller looks, and also how he’ll be responding to the circumstances which ejected him from the MSG lottery ticket. Has he been able to shrug off the disappointment?

But let’s give Forrest just due, recognize that underdogs remind us all the time that sometimes the state schooler gets the job over the Harvard grad. I did wonder, does Forrest perceive that “they” are thinking he is a stepping stone, just tough enough to make a decent fight, but that’s really it?

“Well, I asked for this fight,” he said. “He didn’t wanna fight but I pushed for it. I wanna fight those who others fear. I can beat all in boxing or fighting.”

Promoter DiBella gave us his take on Jerry’s chances July 9.

“Jerry Forrest isn’t showing up as a victim or an opponent,” said the New York fixture, elected into the 2020 International Boxing Hall of Fame class. “He was robbed on ShoBox when he fought the highly-touted Jermaine Franklin. Everyone who watched that fight knows Jerry won. He will prove on July 9 that he’s a heavyweight contender. Jerry is a skilled boxer.”

“I been trying to fight him since before the (drug test failures),” Forrest continued. ”I know I can beat him. What I know is I can out-box anyone in my division. I have way more power than people think. I neutralize my opponents with power and skills. I fought Jermaine Franklin because Miller would never fight me before this. So finally we said cool, let’s fight Franklin.

“Look, I want it all. I work hard, I do it the right way, I’m a man. Even (if Miller was to use banned supplements) I’ll still beat the heck out of him. He want to be the villain. Just know truth wins.I’m the one that’s going to shake up the world. Just wait, it’s going to be Ali, then me.”

The 6’1” southpaw Forrest continued, asserting that exotic chemicals won’t give a user extra skills, to the point that they’ll be able to get that extra edge and defeat him.

“(That wouldn’t) make him a better boxer than me. I am confident in myself. I always wanna fight fair and not illegal. I pride myself on being clean but if guys fight dirty I will still win.”

My Three Cents: I’m going to assume, unless shown otherwise, that Miller won’t be discharged from this fight because of a red flag specimen. But, we are all grownups here, and it would be glaringly disingenuous of me to pretend that a certain healthy percentage of top-level fighters are not using illegal substances, to try and get an edge in stamina and strength. It’s the nature of the game, which actually isn’t that at all. The stakes can be so immense that people are willing to roll those dice, and not deeply ponder what medications they take to become “better” boxers could provoke savage health issues down the line.

In his 29 pro fights, Forrest has surely fought one or more people who tried to use a shortcut to improve their chances of winning. Boxing is no game, the price to be paid can be your life — and that’s why a small pocket of people keep fighting to try and keep the playing field level, so skills, not powders and pills, can pay the bills.

—Email Michael Woods with story tips at Fightwrite@gmail.com