In the best of times, boxing can resemble a frenzied contest of musical chairs, featuring kindergartners hopped up on a sugar OD. And then, during times like these, well, it’s like musical chairs on acid.
With the news that Jarrell “Big Baby” Miller tested PED positive, and thus is ineligible for a planned July 9 faceoff against Jerry Forrest in Las Vegas and on ESPN, people are scrambling.
The show will go on, in altered form. Lou DiBella promotes Forrest, a lefty with skills who opened eyes with a quite solid showing against Jermaine Franklin about a year ago. The New York based deal-maker, who got voted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame’s 2020 class, told Bad Left Hook that his guy Forrest is still ready to rumble.
“Jerry is prepared to fight on that date and I’m gratified that Top Rank is working hard to secure a quality opponent,” DiBella said on Saturday afternoon. “I’ve heard that Carlos Takam is in the mix and we have approved him. Jerry was victimized a year ago by a horrendous decision [against Jermaine Franklin, via split decision]. I’m hoping that he will not be further victimized here.”
Forrest (26-3, 20 KO) is 32 years old, something of a late bloomer whose record probably doesn’t indicate his true degree of talent and promise. Takam (38-5-1, 28 KO) is a 39-year-old Cameroon native, promoted by Star Boxing, with Top Rank making a deal with them to have Takam come to ESPN airwaves.
Joe DeGuardia, also from New York, steers the Star ship. I reached out to DeGuardia, a New York State Boxing Hall of Famer, and asked if indeed the former world title challenger Takam could and/or would sub in and fight Forrest.
Short answer, yes. DeGuardia is one of those folks who has been responding to this “different” landscape, which features more ways for fights to fall out and plans to change. He promotes Joe Smith Jr, the Long Island based light heavyweight who was to face off against Eleider Alvarez on July 16. Then word dropped that Alvarez is injured, so Smith-Alvarez on July 16 is not a thing.
“In July, I was planning on having guys in two main events, the Smith-Alvarez fight, and then Carlos Takam was going to fight Oscar Rivas (in a heavyweight match),” he said, speaking off a planned July 14 headline feature.
But Rivas came up with a bum elbow, and had to pull out. On June 11, the news dropped that Takam-Rivas was no more.
“On one hand, Carlos has the opportunity to get back into the ring. But for the past two weeks, he didn’t think he was fighting. But he’ll do what he’s gotta do to get ready, and we anticipate that’ll be the fight. And Forrest versus Rivas as a foe? On paper, Forrest is easier, but style-wise, it’s a difficult fight. Forrest has a very different style, it’s not the kind of style you love, versus a moving southpaw. But my guy wants the fight. He’s a warrior. Things being what they are, he’s a veteran, and a southpaw shouldn’t upset the apple cart.”
Takam last gloved up Feb. 28, getting a UD-10 over Fabio Maldonado in Huntington, NY.
DeGuardia termed himself “incredulous” when he got word of Miller’s latest failed test.
“I’d never presuppose anything. Partly that comes from my experience in criminal law, you never want to assume anything,” the promoter said. “So I give Miller the benefit of the doubt, and he of course has the right and ability to present a defense, if he indeed tested positive. If after all that, he did test positive, it’s three times then, that’s certainly very disapppointing. And in some respects I’m incredulous.”
And we discussed possible ramifications to consider, once we all get more information.
“In baseball it’s three strikes and you’re out,” DeGuardia said. “There are complicated issues [as far as] what can cause a positive, but when you’re under the microscope, tested positive twice already, theoretically you should have the resources (to make sure you don’t ingest anything untoward). He’s in major fights, so you have the resources. Hey, the first time, maybe it was (a mislabeled) protein powder or something, but...”
Lou DiBella sounded like he was of a mixed mind. Yes, he thinks Miller should face a severe punishment once the matter is fully investigated. A total ban from the sport has to be considered, but, he said, “I don’t think he’s an evil guy, a malicious guy. Obviously, he needs to get some help. He needs a psychological evaluation. But whether there’s an addiction issue, to cheating or (a reliance on PEDs), it needs to be examined. He needs to have that.”
And back to Takam, and his personal musical chairs details.
“No, Forrest wouldn’t be our first choice,” stated DeGuardia. “The first was Rivas but in the world and climate we’re in, this turns out to be an opportunity for Carlos, and he won’t pass that up.”