Miller impresses stops Kassi and calls out heavyweight rivals
By Michael J Jones
LAST NIGHT in Rochester, NY, heavyweight prospect Jarrell “Big Baby” Miller came through his sternest test to date when stopping Cameroon-born Fred Kassi in just three rounds. The official result goes down as a third-round retirement victory for Miller who improves his record to 18-0-1 (16) in retaining his WBO NABO heavyweight belt.
Kassi had previously gone the full route with contenders such as Chris Arreola and Dominic Breazeale and made a bright start to last night’s contest. With Miller content to take a look in the opener, Kassi boxed well on the counter and caught the younger man’s attention with a few crisp head shots.
The second round saw Miller, nearly 60lbs heavier at 296½lbs, come alive with his own onslaught to have Kassi backing off and more hesitant. In the next, “Big Baby” continued his form and appeared to hurt the older man with some thumping right hands. Kassi was wobbled again towards the end of the round as his usually-stern chin deserted him.
It was still a mild surprise when he was pulled out between rounds citing a hand injury. It’s common knowledge to boxing insiders that sometimes a fighter wants to save face and say he was injured rather than get knocked out cleanly and have his reputation in tatters but it’s hard to say how genuine the injury was.
The way he caved once Miller opened up with the heavy artillery seemed as much to do with the victor’s size, youth and power than anything else.
Whatever the truth, Miller stays undefeated and after the fight called out virtually the entire heavyweight division in his usual colourful manner. While he mentioned the reigning champions in Tyson Fury, Anthony Joshua and Deontay Wilder, the 28 year old seems a good few fights away from that level.
Miller also mentioned Arreola and Dominic Breazeale during his post-fight trash-talking and either opponent would be ideal as another step up the ladder on the way to a world title shot.
Before the fight, Miller weighed in at his heaviest ever but has been open about his weight issues and insists him being nearly 300lbs is a positive. The 6'4" puncher carries the weight fairly well but it’s questionable whether he can feature in a gruelling ten or twelve round bout carrying so much weight. Time will tell.
The big American can certainly talk and, last night, showed he can fight a bit too.
Kassi didn’t show an awful lot last night and dipped to 18-6-1 (10) in suffering only his second stoppage defeat in thirteen years of punching for pay.
Big Baby Miller scales 300lbs for Kassi acid test
By Michael J Jones
TONIGHT IN Rochester, New York, heavyweight prospect Jarrell “Big Baby” Miller puts his undefeated record on the line against the durable Fred Kassi. On the line is the WBO NABO heavyweight belt though, more importantly, it’s a chance to see where Miller may stand on the world stage.
The challenger is 36-years-old but brings a respectable 18-5-1 (10) record to the table and has the distinction of only suffering one inside-schedule defeat. Good fighters usually beat him, but most come away knowing they’ve been in a fight.
The Cameroon-born Kassi is entering tonight’s bout without a victory in his last four contests though all reverses were in good company. After suffering one of the knock-outs of the year to big-punching southpaw Amir Mansour two years ago, Kassi went on to hold Chris Arreola to a draw before getting edged by future Anthony Joshua victim Dominic Breazeale.
The six foot Kassi has only boxed once this year, losing to Hughie Fury by a technical decision in London four months ago. The visitor was out-boxed early but came back strongly in the middle rounds before the contest was called off to go to the cards following a cut suffered by Fury.
Many believe that Kassi was robbed in both the Arreola and Breazeale fights and could possibly have gone on to have stopped Fury had the fight continued. He’s not a slick boxer but hits solidly and brings some pressure to his opponents. He is also a man who nearly always comes in tip top shape too.
The defending champion Miller is a man on a mission though having already engaged in some humorous trash-talking about his heavyweight rivals. With the likes of Tyson Fury, Deontay Wilder and Anthony Joshua in his sights, it’s imperative Miller wins in style tonight.
Shockingly, Miller scaled his heaviest ever at the weigh-in yesterday at 296½lbs. The New Yorker commentated the weight-gain was actually intentional as he had felt sluggish in previous fights at his usual 280-285. Kassi scaled 237¼lbs and looked trim and muscular.
The heavyweight dubbed “Big Baby” has done little wrong so far in his 17-0-1 (15) career. He turned pro after a successful kick-boxing/MMA career in 2009 and has stepped up his activity level in the last 18 months, winning all five last year and winning two title bouts already this year.
After some questionable opposition early in his career, the 28 year old Miller has stepped up a little more his last two contests. In January he knocked out decent Donovan Dennis in seven rounds to lift the Interim WBO NABO title before claiming the vacant full title in May with a ruthless demolition of Nick Guivas.
At 6’4” and built like a tank, Miller is a big, strong heavyweight who moves pretty well and has genuine power in his right hand and left hook. The Brooklyn native is primed to make the leap from prospect to contender and in “Big Fred” he finds the ideal opponent to test himself against.
Miller’s draw by the way was to a short, stumpy Philly fighter named Joey Dawejko in his fifth fight. All judges scored a draw so the result looks fair, Dawejko went on to go the distance with Amir Mansour so is clearly no mug (despite being only 5’10” very short for a modern heavyweight).
Although his record doesn’t exactly read like a “who’s who” of name heavyweights, Miller has served as a sparring partner for both Klitschko brothers and is a former NY Golden Gloves finalist. He talks the talk but time will tell how he deals with the top men of the division. By the close of tonight we should know a little more.
The unlucky Kassi must be getting frustrated now with his career having come close several times to scoring eye-catching victories only to be denied. He’ll look upon Miller as unproven (at this level) and will try to start quickly and test the chin of the younger man. For Miller it’s important he stays patient early and keeps his jab busy to bank those early rounds.
An early blow-out of the more-experienced Kassi would be hugely impressive but highly unlikely. A distance fight appears almost certain, with Miller making a bright start before being made to work as the fight progresses. By the end of twelve rounds Miller should have done enough but it’s by far his toughest test to date and an upset for Kassi wouldn’t be a huge surprise.
The contest goes ahead at the Rhinos Stadium in Rochester and should be lively.
Photo credit Rosie Cohe/Showtime
Juan 'Baby bull' Diaz calls for Terry Flanagan fight
Juan ‘Baby Bull’ Diaz has called for a showdown with WBO lightweight champion, Terry Flanagan. Houston born Diaz, 42-4 (21 KO’s), a former unified champion at 135lbs, has won seven fights in three years since reversing his decision to retire from the ring and is determined to add another world title to his collection.
Flanagan, 31-0 (12 KO’s), was set to satisfy the demands of the WBO and take on Felix Verdejo before the end of the year, but the injuries the Puerto Rican sustained in a recent motorcycle accident will keep him out of action for the foreseeable future. Livefight understands that preliminary discussions have taken place for Diaz to step into the breach, with the possibility of the fight taking place in America.
“I plan on moving forward and capturing that fifth world title,” Diaz told Livefight. “The reason I’m calling Terry Flanagan isn’t because I have anything against him or have any special feelings about him - though it is special that he’s a champion, not just anybody can get in the ring and become a champion - it’s just that he happens to fall in line with my plans. I feel that I’m ready for a championship fight.
“Verdejo was the mandatory for the Flanagan fight but he’s injured. I feel that me being with Top Rank and being right behind Verdejo, I could just jump in and take his place.
Diaz, 32, fought himself into contention for the vacant WBO 135lb title back in 2015, but a torn rotator cuff curtailed his preparations for a fight with Japan’s Takahiro Ao. Ray Beltran replaced the Texan and demolished Ao, but his failure to make the weight meant that the title remained vacant. Finally, Flanagan beat Jose Zepeda and took ownership of the belt. Since then, the man from Ancoats has made three successful defences of the title whilst Diaz has been steadily rebuilding.
A fight between Flanagan and Diaz would allow ‘Turbo’ to make his mark with American boxing fans and also give Diaz the opportunity to remind boxing fans just why he was an unmissable action fighter during his heyday.
“I think Terry Flanagan is a great fighter,” Diaz continued. “I think our styles would make a great fight and I think that I’ve shown that I can produce exciting fights. It would be an honour to accept that fight and that challenge if it came about.
“I actually want to thank Terry Flanagan for even thinking about coming here to the USA. I’ve said it before, I’m not the champion. I’m not in the position to make any demands and I have to do what I have to do to make that fight happen.
“I think a fight between Terry Flanagan and myself would be a fight that not all the British fans and American fans would enjoy, but also one that fans all over the world would like. Hopefully, this fight comes off. I know he’s a great fighter and he doesn’t back down from anything. It’d be amazing to give boxing fans another memorable fight.”
The Long Goodbye-Roy Jones Jr faces Moore tonight in Pensacola
By Michael J Jones
DOES ANYONE recall the buzz we used to get when Roy Jones Jr was in his prime? The gifted one gave us many memorable nights of spell-binding boxing beauty. Everything he did oozed of class, he could perform an incredible ring manoeuvre in a blink of an eye and put together unbelievable combinations of dazzling punches like nobody else in the history of the sport.
Fast forward fifteen years from Jones Jr’s peak and we the boxing fans cringe when there’s any headline involving the Pensacola legend and his next fight. Now a veteran of 72 pro bouts, the sad career of a once-great boxer limps along tonight in the fight legend’s hometown of Pensacola, Florida.
The opponent for the former four-weight world champion is Houston’s Rodney Moore and the bout will be at the cruiserweight division over ten scheduled rounds.
On paper, Moore fits the bill as a relatively safe foe for the 47 year old RJ. Moore turned pro twenty years ago and has in the subsequent years evolved from decent contender to cagey journeyman. Moore, no spring chicken either at 40, has a reasonable record of 17-11-2 (7) but has left the ring a loser on his last nine ring appearances.
The Texan’s losing run actually spans back some thirteen years in all. In his last-but-one bout, he was halted for the first time when Russian banger Murat Gassiev floored him twice for a second-round stoppage victory. A series of heavy rights did the damage as Moore, looking slow and fleshy, offered little against the bombardment.
A subsequent points loss to one Mike Bissett in February gives further indication of Moore’s current capabilities. Bissett was just 9-8 entering the contest but emerged the victor after six rounds.
Roy Jones Jr’s recent form is also less than stellar however…
Last December he suffered a crushing defeat to Welsh puncher Enzo Maccarinelli who wiped out the pre-fight favourite in four rounds. The Moscow contest saw Jones Jr’s eight-bout winning streak (against nobody dangerous it should be noted) come crashing to an end. That Maccarinelli has since lost himself by a watch-through-your fingers type knockout, and retired, kind of reiterates where Jones is right now.
He’s 47, some thirteen years since his last spectacular performance (that incredibly dominate victory over John Ruiz to claim a portion of the heavyweight title), the reflexes are gone, the speed is gone, the quickness of foot is gone and pretty much so has the chin…yet that call to arms the older fighters talk of still remains in Roy.
In his only fight since the Maccarinelli defeat, Jones Jr offered a fan $100,000 to last the distance with him. Amateur MMA fighter Vyron Phillips duly stepped up and was knocked out in two rounds. It was an embarrassment of a fight which should never have been allowed to have taken place.
Rodney Moore should offer a little better than Vyron Phillips and sometimes a fighter can raise his game as the underdog but the problem for Moore is a) he’s old and faded too and b) he doesn’t appear to be a puncher with just seven inside-schedule wins in 30 bouts.
Expect the much slowed-down version of Roy Jones Jr to still prove too-talented and ease to a wide points victory in front of his adoring home crowd tonight….before, some months later, we shudder that yet another fight has been arranged featuring the once-time superman.
GGG vs Brook press conference [VIDEO]
iFLTV present the press conference held earlier today between Gennady Golovkin and Kell Brook, to promote their forthcoming showdown at the London 02 Arena on September 10th.