Between the Headlines: Jarrell “Big Baby” Miller tests positive; Triple G set to return, welterweight weekend preview
Jarrell Miller loses his first opportunity to fight for the heavyweight championship against Anthony Joshua after positive VADA test:
It was the opportunity of a lifetime for Brooklyn’s burgeoning heavyweight talent, Jarrell “Big Baby” Miller was set to headline Madison Square Garden against the most lucrative matchup in the sport, IBF, IBO, WBA, and WBO Heavyweight Champion-British mega star, Anthony Joshua. It would have been a dream come true for Miller, the biggest payday of his career, a blockbuster heavyweight championship fight in the same arena that’s held a trove of boxing’s legendary heavyweight nights; Ali-Frazier I-II, Louis-Marciano, Lewis-Holyfield, could Joshua-Miller have been added to the list? probably not, but there is certainly no chance now. At least not for the time being. Instead, Jarrell will be answering to a new foe, The New York State Athletic Commission.
Lead ESPN boxing writer Dan Rafael broke the unexpected, and disappointing early Wednesday morning, citing three sources with knowledge of the situation.
“Heavyweight contender Jarrell “Big Baby” Miller was denied a boxing license by the New York State Athletic Commission on Wednesday following his positive test for a banned substance.” Dan continues later on the article, “Miller, who had vociferously accused Joshua of using performance-enhancing drugs during their February media tour to promote the fight, tested positive for the banned substance GW1516 in a random urine test conducted March 20 by the Voluntary Anti-Doping Association. The results came to light Tuesday night and the New York commission was notified along with both fighter camps.“
I have learned a fair amount about steroids, PED’s, and all that falls under the umbrella in my years of following the sport, but I couldn’t tell you what GW1516 is to save my life. I do know what trusty chemical reference Wikipedia has to say about good ol’ GW, however.
“GW501516 (also known on the black market as Endurobol) was entered into clinical development as a drug candidate for metabolic diseases and cardiovascular diseases, and was abandoned in 2007 because animal testing showed that the drug caused cancer to develop rapidly in several organs.”
The effects gained from using the quite shadowy hormone modifier is one that is “known for giving enormous endurance and performance boost,” as resident boxing PED specialist Victor Conte told The Los Angeles Times, “It’s often referred to as ‘exercise in a bottle.’ At 10-20 mg a day, you’ll be able to take your intensity to the next level.”
Immediately, the mind wonders as to why on earth Jarrell Miller, one of the top ten best in the world would go to such precarious and reckless lengths to gain an advantage. Perhaps, it’s self doubt, Miller has never been in a fight near this level of importance or magnitude. Maybe, the pressure rose to a level that Miller simply couldn’t withstand without a false sense of security. Or, possibly, and more likely, Jarrell accidently ingested the compound through some jumbled up supplement he picked up from a store. The conspiratorial among the boxing community will be quick to hound Miller and declare him a lifelong drug cheat. And, they have good reason to make such assumptions. This is the first time Miller has been tested randomly (to my knowledge) in his decade long professional boxing career. This, also, is not an stand-alone run in with an athletic commission. Miller, who was a part-time kickboxer at the time, was suspended for nine months by the California State Athletic Commission following his loss to MMA legend Mirko Cro Cop in 2014. Miller tested positive for Methylhexanamine (commonly known as Geranamine), A drug that benefits, you guessed it, weight loss and increased energy during workouts. It is important to remember these are still early days, and he has only just been notified of the adverse finding hours ago. A full-blown investigation will be underway shortly spearheaded by NYSAC with the help of VADA. As usual, Miller will have his B-Sample pulled and tested, but as Rafael notes in his article, “If the B sample comes back negative, which would be extremely rare, he could reapply for a license and likely would receive one, but that is a long shot.” The intent doesn’t necessarily matter to VADA or the athletic commission, whether he meant to cheat or not, he’ll likely be facing a suspension of possibly a year or less depending on the outcome of the investigation. Inevitably, though, Miller will be missing out on what would have been the most momentous night of his career, and it again goes to show that “drug cheats” in this day-and-age can only get so far until they get caught.
As for Anthony Joshua, he will still be defending his slew of heavyweight championships at “The Worlds’ Most Famous Arena” on June 1st, it is just a matter of against who at this point. Obviously, Miller was the perfect opponent for the Englishmen’s first venture into America, he was a local-New York born-draw, he was exciting both in and out of the ring, and most importantly, it was a fight that would push Joshua, but was winnable. Eddie Hearn (The promoter of the event, and of both Joshua and Miller), told the media that “[Luis] Ortiz was the first name Joshua gave me.” Ortiz, who most notably lost one of the best heavyweight fights of the decade to Deontay Wilder last March, reportedly has turned down the fight claiming the seven weeks ‘till the fight wasn’t enough time to prepare for Anthony Joshua. The presumed next in line was exciting Polish-Brooklynite Adam Kownacki, he however also wants more time to prepare. It’s also assumed that Kownacki turned the fight due to his management team, and them preferring him to fight Wilder in the fall rather likely losing Joshua on short notice. So, what we have left are less compelling matchups, but by no means terrible. (16-1) Michael “The Bounty” Hunter is the favored amongst the current contestents in the Joshua payday lottery. Hunter is on a four-fight win streak with the last three ending by way of stoppage since moving up to heavyweight. He is the son of Mike “The Bounty” Hunter who was a career contender in the heavyweight division in the 90′s. It should be noted that the ink on Hunter(Jr.)’s new promotional contract with Eddie Hearn just dried. He was expected to fight weeks before in Maryland on the undercard of Oleksander Usyk vs. Carlos Takam.
Joshua vs. Hunter certainly appears to be a stepdown both in the competitive sense and the mainstream appeal sense, but Joshua is still on track to selling out The Garden despite the change.
Is Jarrell Miller a dirty fighter? it sure seems like it.
*UPDATE, 3:30 P.M.* Two days after the first test came back positive for Endurobol, Miller has tested positive again on a VADA drug test, stemming from March 31st, 11 days after the first positive drug test was taken. This time, Miller has tested positive for a much more damning substance, one that he isn’t going to find a way around, Human-Growth-Hormone or HGH. The anabolic agent is extremely potent on the scale of PED’s and it’s been absued in sports since the early 80’s. Here’s what WADA (World Anti-Doping Agency) has to say about HGH in terms of athletic enhancement:
“Some of the effects attributed to hGH, which may explain the attraction for its use as a doping agent, especially in power and endurance sports, include the reduction of body fat (lipolysis), the increase in muscle mass and strength (anabolic effect), as well as its tissue-repairing effects (recovery) on the musculo-skeletal system. The anabolic actions of GH are mostly mediated through IGF-I and include increases in total body protein turnover and muscle synthesis. hGH also appears to be used synergistically with other performance-enhancing drugs, thus having an effect, albeit indirect, on muscle anabolism and athletic performance.”
In essence, there is simply no possible way HGH could have gotten in Miller’s system other than through injection. He got caught red-handed in what is one of the more high profile-and blatantly guilty cases in recent boxing memory.
Jarrell Miller will be facing a (hopefully) lengthy suspension at the hands of NYSAC after now failing two consecutive in consecutive weeks.
*UPDATE, 6:00 P.M.*
20 minutes ago ESPN’s Dan Rafael broke news that Jarrell Miller has now failed three-THREE, VADA drug tests within a 11-day period. This most recent third positive test was from a blood sample taken on March 31st- the same day as the second positive urine test. Now, he’s been caught with Erythropoietin (EPO), and again with GW1516.
EPO is the same substance former two-time UFC Bantemweight Champion T.J. Dillashaw got caught with earlier this month prior to his fight with Henry Cejudo.
According to previously cited WADA:
“EPO is released from the kidneys and acts on the bone marrow to stimulate red blood cell production. An increase in red blood cells improves the amount of oxygen that the blood can carry to the body’s muscles.”
This, like the previously mentioned HGH Miller was caught with hours ago, can only be administered through injection.
At this point, should Miller ever be allowed to fight again?
Here’s Rafael’s initial report:
“Heavyweight Jarrell Miller has tested positive for two more banned substances in a third drug test, sources told ESPN. In addition to Tuesday’s positive test for the banned subtance GW1516 from a March 20 urine sample given to VADA and for HGH from a March 31 blood test, Miller also gave urine during the March 31 collection and that sample came back later Friday. It was positive for EPO and again for GW1516. He was due to challenge Anthony Joshua for his unified heavyweight title on June 1.”
There is no doubt that Miller tried to cheat.
Gennady Golovkin set to return to the ring in June, expected to (”Roll”) over his opponent:
You see what I did there? Roll-Rolls? No? I’ll see myself out.
Bad puns aside, it has been awhile since Gennady Golovkin was in the ring with a less than stellar opponent. He fought washed-up career super welterweight Vanes Martyisorsian on Cinco de Mayo of last year, but that was excusable after the highly-anticipated rematch between Kazakhstan’s Golovkin and Mexico’s Canelo Alvarez was pushed to September after Alvarez’s positive drug test. Not counting the demolition of Vanes, in his last five fights, “GGG” has fought Canelo twice, Daniel Jacobs (Who will fight Canelo on May 6th), Kell brook (former IBF Welterweight Champion), and unknown, undefeated, Dominic Wade.
To say it is underwhelming to see Golovkin step back down in terms of quality of opposition would be stating the obvious.
GGG will be returning to the ring after a nine-month hiatus from the ring following the grueling 12-round modern classic with Saul “Canelo” Alvarez, which Golovkin suffered the first loss in his 39-fight career. He lost his WBA (super), IBO, and WBC Middleweight Championships in yet another hotly contested an controversial decision. Except, this time Gennady lost via majority decision.
That was also the last fight on Golovkin’s contract with HBO which closed their doors on their boxing programming in December. In hopes to secure the trilogy fight with now unified and lineal champion Canelo Alvarez, he followed him over to DAZN after Alvarez signed a record breaking 11-fight $365-Million Dollar contract with the streaming service. The specifics of Golovkin’s contract are perhaps last impressive than Alvarez’s whopping sum, but GGG will be receiving a guaranteed eight-figure payday following the contractual six fights-or-three years.
The first fight of GGG’s lucrative contract? An undefeated Canadian nobody (written facetiously) outside of Canada has heard of. That’s one hell of a way to let the air out of the metaphorical tires.
Steve Rolls, is 19-0 with 10 of his wins coming by way of knockout, he’s a former prodigy of the famed Kronk Boxing Gym in Detriot and earned praise from the late, great, Emmanuel Steward who has trained many of the great fighters of today and of yesterday. Rolls is promoted by top east coast based promter Lou DiBella who exclaimed to Boxingscene.com that Rolls was not, “just some bum” and that he posed a real threat to Golovkin. However, that’s Lou’s job as a promoter, Golovkin is levels above Rolls, at least the last time we saw him he was. At 37-years-old, he might have gotten old over the past nine-months, over his past few fights, dating back to the surprisingly competitive fight with Kell Brook in the fall of 2016 there have been minuet and possibly even overblown whispers of Golovkin “showing his age.” Maybe, June 8th is the night Gennady Golovkin gets old, and, Steve Rolls collects the scalp of what was one of the greatest offensive fighters of his day. Beating an older, and mortal Gennady Golovkin.
But, Steve Rolls is probably going to get eviscerated by a Gennady Golovkin who has a bloodlust boiling within himself for the trilogy fight with Saul Alvarez to prove who the best middleweight of the generation is.
It’s a terrible matchup, but it will be fun to see Gennady Golovkin back in action.
Two great welterweight main events, at the same time, on opposite channels, on opposite coasts, which is worth your Saturday night?:
In a world full of networks and streaming services investing billions of dollars into boxing we’re getting boxing programming on a highly frequent basis, so much so that networks are battling it out with intertwining marquee matchups on Saturday nights. The most recent iteration of these “network wars”? This weekend. The two biggest players in the game are going at it (again) when ESPN airs their first pay-per-view event in over a decade with Terrence “Bud” Crawford defending his WBO Welterweight Championship against Amir “King” Khan, and on the opposite side of the street, FOX is bringing a salivating welterweight contest of it’s own between Danny “Swift” Garcia against the always exciting underdog Adrian Granados. They are both fantastic matchups, and they both bolster talent heavy undercards, so which should you tune in for?
While appearing on first glance to be the lesser of the two fight cards, FOX/PBC’s offering for Saturday night is being quite overlooked in my estimation when it comes to the two events.
The card is headlined by a welterweight matchup that is promising of action. Former WBC Welterweight Champion, WBC, Lineal, and WBA Junior Welterweight Champion Danny “Swift” Garcia (34-2 20 KO’s) returns to the now familiar position of rebuilding after a close decision loss in a world championship bout. Garcia suffered the second loss of his career last August when he lost to “Showtime” Shawn Porter for the then vacant WBC welterweight title. It was the second time Garcia had been in a major world title fight at welterweight-and it was the second time he lost. Now, Garcia looks to reestablish himself as one of the premier welterweights on the planet and put himself back in the title conversation. He faces ballsy fringe contender Adrian ”Tigre” Granados who has proven time and time again to be a difficult, and rough night for any boxer of any caliber. Granados’ career highlights include a brutal knockout victory over former top prospect Amir Imam, and a very close decision loss to Adrien Broner in 2017. Granados has also shared the ring with names such as the aforementioned Shawn Porter, Javier Fortuna, Brad Solomon, and Felix Diaz. Though earning a reputation as being just an average talent, Granados always brings a tough fight no matter the opponent. The pairing of Garcia with Granados is obviously set up to both push Danny Garcia, but also to make him look really good in doing so. Granados, though a valiant fighter with a lot of heart, is outclassed quite drastically when it comes to a prime-ish Danny Garcia.
Though many speculate his best days were at junior welterweight, and in the early half of the decade, Danny Garcia still talks and acts like a man on a mission, he desperately wants to prove the he is amongst the many elite in the welterweight division. He also wants to throw his name in the hat for any of the big name matchups within the upper echelon of the 147-lbs limit. A fight with Manny Pacquiao, A rematch with Keith Thurman or Shawn Porter, The “new kid on the block” in Errol Spence Jr., all of those exciting and big money options hang in the balance for Philadelphia’s Garcia, but he has to produce something dynamic on Saturday night to ensure he doesn’t get left behind.
The co-main event features a clash between former heavyweight title challenger turned underachiever (for now) Andy Ruiz Jr. (31-1 20 KO’s) against ehhhh-unpredictable? German Alexander Dimitrenko (41-4 26 KO’s), there are also two other title fights on the card in the bantamweight division(s) where Ricardo Espinoza Franco (23-2 20 KO’s) meets former two division world champion John Riel Casimero (26-4 17 KO’s) in what will be an all-action fight for the interim WBO World Bantamweight Championship, and, 22-year old heartthrob Brandon “The Heartbreaker” Figueroa gets his first shot at a world title after going 18-0 and stopping his last five opponents. He faces lightly regarded Yonfrez Parejo (22-3-1) of Venezuela for the interim WBA Super Bantamweight title.
That card is on FOX at 8:00 P.M. CT.
The opposing is an ESPN PPV event headlining Madison Square Garden when the consensus #2 pound-for-pound fighter in the sport Terrence “Bud” Crawford (34-0 24 KO’s) looks to make his sophomore defense of his piece of the welterweight championship- the WBO title- against former Olympic silver medalist, and former three time junior welterweight world champion Amir “King” Khan (33-4 20 KO’s)
Terrence Crawford solidified himself amongst the very best fighters in the world after becoming the undisputed junior welterweight champion of the world in 2017, and then following it up with an ambitious and so far successful campaign at welterweight. Crawford besieged the welterweight division after beating Manny Pacquiao-conquer Jeff Horn from pillar-to-post at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas last year, capturing the WBO championship, and the anticipation of the fans hoping we would see Crawford make dream matchups with the likes of Pacquiao, Spence, Thurman etc. etc. those fights have begrudgingly been yet to materialize, but the dominate and flawless Crawford is making his first foray into the elite of the division when he faces Amir Khan.
Khan, who like the aforementioned Danny Garcia had his best days down at junior welterweight, is going for one last sprint to greatness in what could be a legacy altering fight. Amir Khan has received allot of disregard from his own british homeland following him “ducking” what seems like lifelong rival Kell Brook and opting for the fight with Crawford instead, but If the sizeable underdog in Khan were to pull off an upset, it would certainly go down as one of the greatest wins in British boxing history. To this point, Khan is heralded for his tremendous run at junior welterweight in the mid-2000′s; great fights with Marcos Maidana, Danny Garcia, Zab Judah, and Lamont Peterson to name a few. but Amir hasn’t really gotten things going since moving up to the welterweight division in 2014. For years, Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao tethered Khan along as a potential opponent only for that dream of a lifechanging matchup to never come to fruition. Instead, Khan would only fight four times since 2014, one of which being his biggest fight to date, the vicious sixth round knockout loss to Saul “Canelo” Alvarez all the way up at middleweight in Vegas on Cinco de Mayo weekend of 2016. Khan would take a two year hiatus from the sport after the violent loss before returning last year in hopes of making a few more big fights before expected retirement. He’s won two in a row since then over lightly regarded foes in Phil Lo Greco, and Samuel Vargas. Terrence Crawford is the first truly elite fighter he’s faced since Canelo and the two-year hiatus, for Khan, at this point it’s do-or-die time in terms of the legacy he leaves. He has to beat Crawford, or, look remarkably good against him to remain a respected name in the sport of boxing in 2019. If he loses via knockout like most are predicting he will, he’s likely facing retirement, or the long overdue domestic clash with Kell Brook and then retirement.
The undercard features the best Top Rank Promotions has to offer in terms of prospects, including 2017 and 2018 prospect of the year Teofimo Lopez who is in line for a potential fight with Vasiliy Lomachencko come 2020, also, 2016 American Olympic silver medalist Shakur Stevenson (finally) faces a legitimate opponent in once-beaten Christopher Diaz, and lastly, Felix Verdejo somehow finds his way back onto a major Top Rank card after being branded as an overall disappointment by just about everyone in boxing. Will this be a new, better, more focused Verdejo? I hope so, I like him personally, but I don’t think it will be.
It’s a fine main event, a $30-dollar PPV worthy main event even with a solid undercard, but in my (and many others) opinion, it isn’t worth the $70-dollar price point. That’s just absurd. That amount of money for a fight should only be saved for a truly must-see, best vs. best, matchup, such as Canelo-Golovkin, or, Wilder-Joshua, not a fight we should be getting for free on ESPN.
If you’re not a cheapskate like me, buy the PPV, it’s a good fight with a decent undercard, but, if you are like me and have common sense, you should just tune in to Fox for what promises to be a good night of fights, or, you could scrounge around local bars in hopes they bought Crawford vs. Khan so you don’t have to, that’s probably what I’ll end up doing.