By Matt Thompson
Photos: Team Miller/SHOWTIME
Exciting heavyweight slugger Jarrell “Big Baby” Miller returns to ShoBox: The New Generation, live on SHOWTIME (10 p.m. ET/PT), this Friday, August 19, from Rhinos Stadium in Rochester, New York.
The WBO #8-, WBA #9- and IBF #14-rated Miller (17-0-1, 15 KOs) will face capable veteran Fred Kassi (18-5-1, 10 KOs) in the 10-round main event of a televised quadrupleheader being presented by Salita Promotions and Greg Cohen Promotions.
“This heat is definitely kicking my ass,” said Miller. “The weather has been tough. I’ve got to stay hydrated and keep my power and strength, but I’ll be ready Friday night. I watched a lot of tape on Kassi and I know what he brings to the table. I know if I stick to the game plan, it’ll be an easy fight for me. I just need to stay focused. I see myself stopping him. Kassi is definitely awkward, but there are ways to deal with that. Just me being me will do it. I’ll whip his ass.”
In the 10-round co-main event, Louisiana’s Mason Menard (31-1, 23 KOs) will face tough Bahodir Mamadjonov (19-2, 11 KOs) in a 10-round battle for the NABO Lightweight Title. Also featured is WBO NABO Bantamweight Champion Antonio Nieves (16-0-1, 8 KOs) of Cleveland, Ohio, defending his title against Alejandro “Peque” Santiago (11-2-1, 3 KOs), of Tijuana, Baja California, Mexico. And in the 10-round welterweight opener, Kazakhstan’s undefeated Bakhtiyar Eyubov (10-0, 10 KOs) will take on Karim “Hard Hitta” Mayfield (19-3-1, 11 KOs), of San Francisco.
Miller has knocked out six consecutive opponents in impressive fashion while calling out world champions Deontay Wilder, Anthony Joshua and Tyson Fury, among others. In taking on the experienced Kassi, Miller will be facing the toughest opponent of his career. Kassi has been in with notable names including Amir Mansour, Dominic Breazeale and Hughie Fury. He even fought to a highly debatable majority draw with three-time world title challenger Chris Arreola last July.
Miller says his, thus far, meteoric rise through the heavyweight division isn’t a surprise to him and he knows he’s getting close to clutch time. “I wish I was here two years ago,” he said, “but I’m glad we’re finally getting some recognition and it’s time to put up or shut up.”
Miller admits he’ll be looking for his seventh consecutive KO on Friday night, but will grudgingly accept other forms of victory if he absolutely must.
“It’s always important to get a knockout, but the main thing is to get the win. I feel like I need to put a hurting on everybody, but I’ll take the win if I have to. I’m just glad he took the fight. Everybody hand-picks opponents these days. I just want to go in there and whip everybody’s ass. It’s always been hard to find opponents. Nobody wants to take any risks. When I become the mandatory, there will be no more running.”
A vocal critic of today’s champions since the beginning of his career, Miller says he’s not surprised WBC Champion Deontay Wilder recently announced he is out with injury until next year.
“He’s always been very fragile. I’m not surprised he broke his fingernail. He’s built that way. That’s why he’ll only fight softies. His people don’t want any real opponents for him because they know how fragile he is. They are protecting him from an ass whipping, but sooner or later, I’ll get him. I want to be the people’s champ. That’s what its’ all about. I’m a likeable guy outside the ring, but inside, it’s all pain from me. They’re going to know me as the world’s best. I’ll bring the excitement back to the heavyweights on a whole different level. I like to start fireworks wherever I can. It’s about having fun, but at the same time about giving the fans what they want.”
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