Monday, March 27, 2023  |


Daniel Jacobs, Jarrell Miller view Nov. 11 HBO platform as launchpad to big fights

Photo / Tom Hogan-K2 Promotions

There was a theme or two I detected at Gleason’s Gym, the famed and fabled fight factory in DUMBO, Brooklyn today, when some of the fighters showing their stuff at the Nov. 11 card to unfold at the refurbished Nassau Coliseum on Long Island, portions of which will run on HBO.

As I chatted with genial giant Jarrell “Big Baby” Miller and then I queried Danny Jacobs, the amiable but ultra ambitious middleweight, but of course I had to note that these were two Brooklyn products. And the word “products” isn’t the wrong word choice; Miller follows in the footsteps (he hopes) of two other heavyweight talents, Mike Tyson and Riddick Bowe, and the boxing world as a whole will benefit mightily if he turns out to be fractionally as successful as they. And Jacobs came of age in this diverse borough, before gentrification hit, and so he’s seen downsides and folks chewed up by the cold hard city, and he’s persevered and clawed and scratched his way to a prominence some might have bet against, being that he got dropped and stopped while ascending and then had to rumble with a cancer that paralyzed him.

So, the Brooklyn thing was front and center at Gleason’s, in my mind anyway…

And then, also, Miller spoke on another subject and Jacobs did too. Both men are casting their lot on the HBO side of the tracks, to varying degrees at this point anyway.

Jarrell “Big Baby” Miller. Photo / @BrooklynBrawlNY

Miller told me that “we here now,” and played it savvy and chill, making clear he’s not married to any one platform. “I believe the proof is in the pudding, when people say they’re going to do certain things, they’re gonna do it,” the 19-0-1 hitter stated. “One network did, one network didn’t. It’s business, not personal. I didn’t get personal when they did what they felt they had to do.”

He’s referencing the back and forth between promoters and platforms, namely Showtime, where Miller’s been doing his thing. He became a ShoBox fixture, and was graduating to bigger things. It looked like he was on the track to collide with Deontay Wilder, who has worked on the Showtime side. Miller said that yes, it was looking like he and Wilder would be colliding…then he’s heard talk about Anthony Joshua. And it looks like right now, he’s sitting pretty with freedom to move. Same as Joshua, whose services are in such demand Showtime and HBO went back and forth in bidding for his Saturday bout, which was to be against Kubrat Pulev but will instead be against sub Carlos Takam.

“The path looks like it’s going toward AJ a little bit, and Joseph Parker, and it doesn’t bother me, I’m ready to rock and roll, I was born for this,” said Miller.

He grinned at the idea of heading to England and being the bad guy in England against Joshua. “I have a tall order in front of me,” he said, speaking of 6-7 Pole Mariusz Wach (33-2), his Nov. 11 opponent on a card co-promoted by his promoter, Dmitriy Salita, who was present at Gleason’s, directing traffic and hyping the undercard, which features NYPDer Dimash Niyazov (12-0-3).

Miller, age 29, said he recognized that the platform is key to so much, more so than what promoter he’s aligned with, because if the platform wants your services, they will maneuver to get your services, and by maneuver, I mean pony up beacoup bucks to snag talent. The kid is savvy, has an easy amiability which, mark my words, will resonate beyond the confines of the 1.2 million hardcore boxing fans in the U.S. when and if he beats an AJ or a Wilder. Check this video and see how he answers my query about which cheeseburger he prefers, how he manages some wordplay and also room to maneuver between McDonalds and Burger King when it comes endorsement time.

And back to theme detection…

Jacobs showed, again, an amiability, a charm that could and should exude beyond the confines of our hardcore fanbase. His advisor Keith Connolly saw it from when Jacobs was starting out, and the boxer said he was thankful to be able to be welcomed by HBO. He wants and expects to be more busy, more active, and has a commitment from them for regular dates. He spoke along the same lines of what Miller was saying, that he got that love from the platform, from HBO, and that is paramount to him as an athlete, because it is on their stage he will do his thing.

Bottom lining it, both men are accentuating the power of the platform, of the stage-builder and showcaser who produces the show they fight on and disperses the pictures of their exploits. This signals something of a shift in balance, and leverage and power, it can be argued. “I thank all my team, (my manager Keith Connolly), from Al (Haymon), Eddie Hearn, and I thank HBO. There’s always going to be rumors and allegations, but at the end of the day, Al’s been supporting me from day one and he’s always going to support me.”

Daniel Jacobs. Photo / @BrooklynBrawlNY

Jacobs told me, no, he doesn’t see Luis Arias as a “stay busy” fight, and “this guy is looking to have an out of body experience” to beat him. Arias talked strong at the press conference to hype the clash but “it’s obvious it’s a leap from who he has fought before..there’s levels to this game, and I’m going to show him that Nov. 11.”

And when and if he beats Arias, who else is he looking toward? “I like everybody, and I told HBO and I told my promoter that I want them all,” speaking of the Canelos and Golovkins. “It’s all based on whether these guys really want to step in the ring.” Connolly told me they’d entertain a Demetrius Andrade fight, but Andrade, while skilled, hasn’t positioned himself as a high profile talent, and his last fight, against Alantez Fox last weekend, was no barnburner, so there’s no mass movement of rooters hollering to see him again.

Jacobs ended with a shoutout to his foundation, showing another solid trait, a desire to be a philanthropic role model.

My three cents: All this movement is beneficial to the fans and the sport as a whole. An HBO with a decent budget and desire to be No. 1 in the field, without debate, means they buy more and better fights and make Showtime step up their game. Yes, vigorous competition among these A siders, be it Jacobs and Miller and their possible prospective foes, and HBO and Showtime, makes for a better brand of boxing being crafted for the masses. This year was good, I’m now having a hunch next year could be even better. Time tells.