The road back to title contention will have to come in time for Jarrell Miller.
A regular stream of ring activity, however, is well in the unbeaten heavyweight’s control—and very much in the cards.
As previously reported by BoxingScene.com, Brooklyn’s Miller will appear as part of a July 23 show in Murfreesboro, Tennessee. The appearance on the July 23rd card—as part of Tri-Star Boxing’s ‘Fight Night In the Boro’ series—will mark the first in the U.S. for Miller (24-0-1, 20KOs) since November 2018, with the extended hiatus due to a combination of the pandemic and back-to-back fights falling through due to testing positive for banned substances.
Miller ended a 31-month ring absence with a ten-round, unanimous decision win over Ariel Bracamonte on June 23 in Argentina. The quick turnaround is part of a plan to eventually find his way back to where he once was while still on the rise.
“I look forward to getting back in the ring July 23rd,” Miller said of his stateside return. “The plan is to fight every month, shake off this rust and get back to where I need to be over the next few months.
“Big Baby is back!”
An opponent is not yet named for Miller’s placement on the show, which is billed as a special attraction. Local cruiserweight southpaw Keith Rydell Mayes Jr. (12-1, 11KOs) headlines the card in a rematch with Knoxville’s Jaden Booth in an effort to avenge his lone career defeat from last February.
“We are really excited to be back in Murfreesboro,” said Matt Young, Tri-Star Boxing CEO. “This will be our seventh event at home and third at the Embassy Suites. Rydell has been training extremely hard and is ready for his rematch. He is determined to avenge his lone defeat.”
The 33-year-old Miller travels to the Mid-South for the first time in his 13-year pro career. He has not fought anywhere in the states since November 2018, when he scored a fourth-round knockout of Bogdan Dinu as part of a DAZN show in Mulvane, Kansas. His next fight was to come in a challenge of then-unbeaten WBA/IBF/WBO/IBO heavyweight champion Anthony Joshua (24-2, 22KOs) in June 2019 at Madison Square Garden in New York City, mere minutes from his Brooklyn hometown.
The fight with Joshua fell through after Miller tested positive for multiple banned substances. The development resulted in his losing out on a lucrative fight package worth roughly $6.5 million that included comeback bouts if he lost, with even more to gain had he beaten Joshua and secured a rematch. However, he avoided an official suspension due to not being licensed in the state of New York at the time of the positive drug test.
Miller wasn’t as fortunate after testing positive for GW501516—also known as cardarine and endurobol—ahead of an eventually canceled July 2020 clash with Jerry Forrest in Las Vegas. The fight was made under the condition that the Nevada Athletic Commission could treat Miller as a licensed participant, with the positive drug test resulting in a temporary suspension.
A final ruling was made later that December, with Miller handed a backdated two-year suspension which ended this past June. There was originally a path to complete the suspension six months earlier, had Miller fully committed to stringent random drug testing as contracted through Voluntary Anti-Doping Association (VADA). The absence of steady income left him financially incapable of complying with such terms.
“I lost my wife. I lost my home. I lost my career,” Miller noted during an impassioned speech while initially seeking leniency during a March 23 Nevada commission monthly agenda hearing. “Now I’m in court fighting to be with my son. Financially, I am required to pay legal fees.
“This is bigger than boxing. It means being there for my son, for my mother.”
The Nevada commission wouldn’t commit to reducing the suspension but agreed to allow him to begin exploring opportunities immediately upon its mid-June conclusion. In lieu of a stateside return, Miller resurfaced in Buenos Aires as part of the WBA KO Drugs festival. He weighed a career-high 341 ¾ pounds for his win over Bracamonte, with the expectation of a better fit version arriving in July.
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox