It’s been a long time since Jarrell Miller has enjoyed the taste of victory or even a boxing ring on fight night.
The unbeaten heavyweight enjoyed both experiences in his ring return following a self-imposed 43-month absence in a ten-round, unanimous decision win over Ariel Esteban Bracamonte. All three judges scored the contest 97-92 in favor of Miller as part of a WBA-sponsored KO DRUGS event Thursday evening at Casino Buenos Aires in Buenos Aires, Argentina.
Ring rust and lack of conditioning were evident, as Miller looked like a 341 ¾-pound heavyweight who hadn’t fought in more than three years. The brash Brooklyn native last saw action in a fourth-round knockout of Bogdan Dinu in November 2018, followed by back-to-back fights canceled due to positive drug tests. The follies, combined with the pandemic, left the one-time heavyweight contender on the outside looking in and now on the comeback trail.
The road to redemption was slow out the gate, as Bracamonte took advantage of Miller’s struggle to find his timing. The 29-year-old from La Cumbre, Cordoba, Argentina was brought in as a serviceable soft touch, but had upset on his mind as he outworked Miller in the early rounds.
It wasn’t until round three when Miller found his offensive groove. The hand speed wasn’t quite there, but he found his timing and was able to land left hooks that clearly discouraged Bracamonte who was less active as the incoming increased.
Any momentum gained by Miller was squandered in round four, when he was warned for a right hand that landed well below Bracamonte’s beltline. The sequence resulted in time being called for the Argentinean journeyman to recover from the foul, after which he began to work Miller’s oversized midsection.
Action continued at close quarters in round five. Miller was dialed in with his straight right hand and left hook, pushing Bracamonte aroind the ring but leaving himself open for counter shots. A pair of uppercuts connected for Miller, followed by a right hand just before the bell.
Miller sought to impose his will in round six. The Brooklyn native landed overhand rights and chopping left hooks, only slightly budging Bracamonte and never to the point of breaking his spirit. Time was called to fix loose tape on Miller’s glove, again providing a momentum shift for Bracamonte who closed the round strong after getting outfought during the preceding two minutes.
Bracamonte boxed on his toes for much of round seven, forgetting for a moment that he arrived at a career-heaviest 305 ½ pounds. Miller seemed unbothered by the tactic, allowing the local boxer to tire himself out before timing him with power shots in the final minute of the round.
A slow moving round eight picked up steam in the closing seconds. The pair of heavyweights let their hands go inside the ten-second warning, providing brief two-way action.
Miller enjoyed his best stretch in the final minute of round nine. A left hook had Bracamonte on the defensive, with Miller following up with right hands to the body and more left hands upstairs. Bracamonte survived the round but was left with a bloody lip while gasping for air.
The tenth and final round saw both fighters empty whatever reserves were left in their already low gas tanks. Miller was dialed in with his left hook upstairs, with Bracamonte unable to offer a proper response other than to clinch and hold his way out of trouble. Miller had a brief lapse in judgment when he looked down as his mouthpiece fell out of his mouth, to which Bracamonte (11-8, 6KOs) reacted with one last spurt.
The fight was the first for Miller since November 2018, having since watched two separate fights fall through due to testing positive for banned substances. The most prolific of the two came in his disgraceful exit from a shot at then-unbeaten, unified heavyweight titlist Anthony Joshua in 2019, when Miller came up positive on three separate random drug tests which resulted in the New York State Athletic Commission rejecting his application for a license.
Miller avoided a suspension due to not having an active license at the time of the positive drug test, though he still sat out for more than a year before another promoter would take a chance on the disgraced heavyweight.
A second chance at a fresh start was squandered by Miller, who tested positive for GW501516—also known as cardarine and endurobol—ahead of his scheduled July 2020 ESPN headliner versus Jerry Forrest. The fight was due to take place in Las Vegas, where the Nevada State Athletic Commission treated him like a licensed fighter and issued a backdated two-year suspension from the time of the June 2020 positive drug test.
The suspension ended earlier this month, though with Miller previously pre-approved earlier this spring to be eligible for a boxing license anywhere in the U.S. beginning June 17.
It proved to be moot, as Miller could have fought outside the jurisdiction of the Association of Boxing Commissions (ABC) regardless of his suspension status. Nevertheless, the proper steps were taken to return to the ring, although there is plenty of work to be done if he is to regain past form.
For now, Miller is back in the win column as he advances to 24-0-1 (21KOs).
The fight took place as part of the WBA’s KO DRUGS two-day festival in Buenos Aires.
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox