Promoter Lou DiBella has given it plenty of thought over the last few days, and his stance on the heavyweight Jarrell Miller has evolved.
Miller’s been on his mind first of all because he’s known the kid for a long spell, and also, DiBella’s heavyweight Jerry Forrest (26-3, 20 KO) was to meet Miller on July 9 in the comeback scrap for “Big Baby.”
But that comeback went off the rails when a PED positive popped for Miller, again, just as it did before his June 2019 tango with Anthony Joshua. DiBella of course wanted Forrest to not waste a camp, so he was keen to see if a sub could be summoned. One has been found, in the form of vet Carlos Takam (38-5-1, 28 KO).
“I respect Carlos Takam as a man, but I will have to hurt him and do what I have to do to win,” the 32-year-old Forrest said. “This is an amazing opportunity for me to fight on ESPN. I feel I’ve earned it, and I’m more than ready. The change in opponent was of no huge concern. Though Takam has been more active and is in better shape, he and Jarrell Miller have a similar style, so I didn’t have to change much in training camp.”
I asked Lou, is he still sorta steamed at Miller for messing up the plan?
“No, what’s done is done,” the promoter told BLH. “And I’ve been thinking a lot about it, and I don’t think Jarrell should be given a lifetime ban. I don’t think a lifetime ban is the right move. I think you want to send a real message, maybe worse than we’ve ever seen in the sport, but not lifetime.”
Miller is promoted by Top Rank, with Salita Promotions and Greg Cohen Promotions. He turns 32 on July 15, and yes, it’s true, really shouldn’t be referred to as “a kid” anymore. But DiBella has a nuanced take on Miller and what he’s been dealing with the last few years.
“Jarrell has problems, he has issues, but the sport bears some responsibility,” he continued. “His punishment has to be really significant, and long enough to probably end things if he’s not dedicated. But if he’s going to clean up, get some counseling, do 365 testing and re-apply, then let’s see. I don’t think a death sentence is appropriate. Yes, he failed the sport, but the sport failed Jarrell.”
No oversight body took the lead and directed Miller as to how to proceed, really, following the three red flags before the Joshua fight, which instead famously went to Andy Ruiz Jr.
And yes, DiBella says, of course he needs to take the reins himself and do the right thing. But the sport’s lack of structure did him less than no favors.
My three cents: I confess, I am not optimistic that boxing will use this mess as a learning lesson. The sport seems especially resistant to change, especially for the better. But we can hope.