The heavyweight division might be the leader weight class in the boxing sphere as 2017 plays out to be the come-backing kind of slate which will help get the sport back on a better track after #MayPac threw it off course.
New blood in the XXL class has even some casuals perking up. Anthony Joshua is being backed by the premium cabler Showtime as a next big thing and a couple other young guns are in a mix which has folks who’ve not been bothered to pay close attention to the heavies perking up. Joseph Parker (22-0; age 24) snagged the WBO crown when he bested Andy Ruiz, another next-gen big body, Dec. 10 in New Zealand, and looked like a quite competent pugilist, one who could find himself in meaningful bouts for a solid span, if fate allows.
Parker is now in search mode for his next dance partner, and word is Hughie Fury from England is in the lead to get the slot. Jarrell “Big Baby” Miller (18-0-1; age 28), the Brooklyn-based former kick boxer who has emerged as a fan fave on Showtime’s ShoBox series, wants to test Parker, a smart boxer who fought a well managed 12 rounds against Ruiz, a California boxer promoted by Top Rank.
Now, about Hughie Fury (20-0; age 22), cousin to Tyson Fury, who took the WBO strap when he beat Wladimir Klitschko, but dropped it after inactivity and a PED kerfuffle. Cousin Hughie also was ensnared in a PED quagmire; last summer, it was announced the Furys BOTH tested positive for the steroid nandrolone. Tyson and Hughie both had their licenses to box stripped by the British Boxing Board of Control and then those suspensions were lifted by the National Anti Doping Panel.
I emailed the BBBC and asked for a status update on the license status for both Furys. I also messaged the UK Anti Doping organization, which handles the PED testing for pro boxing in that neck of the woods, and asked about the Furys’ standing in their eyes, following those PED positives and then the licensing status deal. Also, I emailed Frank Warren’s outfit, as he promotes Hughie, so maybe they have some updated info on the status of that nandralone fuss, which both Furys denied using. I will insert replies as they arrive.
Miller, to be sure, is lobbying hard to get the nod over Hughie, and get a shot at taking down Parker. “Big Baby,” co-managed by Steve Nelson and Mike Mihalitsas, and promoted by Dmitriy Salita and Greg Cohen, last gloved up Aug. 19 and made Fred Kassi quit in round three. I chatted with him, he’s right now in Florida, before he was set to work out.
“Nobody cares about that wanker, Hughie Fury,” BBM told me. He said that the lingering stench of that positive PED test, as reported by the BBC, in this climate, should keep Hughie from the Parker fight. He needs to handle that issue, Miller told me, because heavyweight boxing has had far more than enough with PED antics of late. He cited the positive by Alexander Povetkin, which made Bermane Stiverne pull out of their planned scrap in Russia two weeks ago. Miller told me he did research on nandrolone, and that he thinks that substance, ingested by anyone looking for an extra boost, isn’t in the “iffy” category, as with some banned substances which maybe could find their way into an over-the-counter supplement. “Fighters have to educate themselves on PEDs, just as they do with business matters,” he said.
He’s hoping and thinking the WBO will do the right thing, in his mind, he told me, and consider the rep of the sport and the division, and make a statement in support of clean boxing.
And if that occurs, Miller predicts that Parker will fall before the final bell. “I would definitely stop Parker within seven rounds,” he stated. “I’ve never really been a huge fan of his. And after watching his fight with Andy Ruiz, I was even less so. Ruiz is like 6-1, 250, Parker is 6-3, like 235. I’m 6-4, 290, I’m a walking freight train! I’m the next big thing coming from America!”
It is looking like Hughie has that inside track, though. Carl Moretti, an executive with Top Rank, offered this update on what’s next for Parker. “We are in discussion with Hughie and Joseph Parker and that is the next fight,” he said. No when or where has been determined, he said.
Nelson is still fighting for his guy to get the title crack against Parker. I spoke to the Rochester, N.Y. manager, who worked with Hasim Rahman, William Joppy and Oscar De La Hoya (during the first two years of The Golden Boy’s pro career). He called me after eating at the Rochester Charlotte Tavern and was laughing. “I finished a cheeseburger, in honor of Jarrell. They have a three pounder here, if you eat it all you get it for free. I haven’t done it, but I think Jarrell could do it! Anyway, we think we are a better quality than Hughie in terms of boxing. We’re ranked higher by other organizations, and BoxRec has us 25, him 36. We’ve had much tougher opponents, a higher KO percentage, and they have Kassi in common. Take a look at Kassi versus Hughie, Kassi was doing well when Hughie was cut. As for the nandrolone issue, Hughie was allowed to appeal, but we need a ruling. They shouldn’t let him fight for the title, the sport needs to have guys obviously clean. I’m not against second chances of course but to let him fight for the title under a cloud is wrong. They should hear his appeal case immediately, then. Justice delayed is justice denied. Why would an HBO or Showtime show the fight and it puts them maybe in a precarious position, after they’ve jumped through hoops to show the fight. Hughie Fury hasn’t done enough in the sport to merit any extra consideration. We need to know Hughie is cleared. Jarrell is one hundred percent legal to fight. And we accept their terms, we will fight in New Zealand. We understand we are the challenger. We don’t care, our guy is the better guy, and if Hughie is cleared we’re happy to fight him next and knock him out too.”
Miller still has Tyson Fury atop his heavyweight pound for pound list, with Wladimir Klitschko, Deontay Wilder and then Anthony Joshua next, with Parker after Joshua. “I took myself out of the mix for this rating,” he said. “But the heavyweight division is wide open.
Miller is plotting out a majestic 2017, it seems like. He envisions beating Parker, “and then I will take Deontay Wilder right after that!” He said he’s very unimpressed with the caliber of foes that Wilder has been taking on. Fans and media alike should be squawking about the too easy path for Wilder, he continued.
Miller gets it that the Brits are digging Joshua, but he notes that they seem to be the type of fans who are too impressed by physique. “They are definitely a little cocky,” he noted. “But after I get these wins, they will jump on my bandwagon.” He too is impressed by the euphoria and loyalty shown by Brit fans, but notes that our premium networks Showtime and HBO back this business in a big way, and are yearning for home grown stars. He volunteers for a more prominent place on their list of athletes to spotlight. “Me versus Parker,” Miller continued, before a workout and then a cheeseburger pounding session, “will be good for American TV.”
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