Jarrell Miller’s career as a professional boxer may be over for good after failing a third performance-enhancing drug test. Miller first served a 9-month suspension from kickboxing in 2014 after testing positive for a banned stimulant. His second drug offense as a professional athlete came in the lead-up to the biggest fight of his career, against Anthony Joshua in 2019, losing him a guaranteed $6million in the process. In the what went on to be the now-famous AJ-Ruiz upset, Miller was replaced by Ruiz last minute after failing three separate drug tests.
Despite not facing a ban from the New York State Athletic Commission for his second set of failed tests, a loophole owing to the fact his license had expired by the time he failed, the WBA handed him their own six-month ban and Miller neglected to exercise his right to try and gain an athletic license from another state.
Miller’s most recent infraction is reportedly for one of the same substances he was failed for leading up to the AJ fight, which means he might have taken an illegal fat burner, human growth hormone or a compound which modifies the blood to carry more red cells and, as a result, more oxygen. A third strike on Miller’s record could lead to a lifetime ban if precedents set by other athletic commission are followed.
Lost shot at redemption
After his last failed test Miller was dropped by his promoter, Eddie Hearn, and was left without representation until January 2020. Bob Arum took a chance on ‘Big Baby’, signing him to Top Rank and offering to help get his career back on track. Where Hearn and others were unwilling to go, Arum saw an opportunity to rebuild a Heavyweight who only months ago was on the cusp of establishing himself among the biggest in the sport.
Following this new test result, it’s unsure what Arum will choose to do. It makes it all the more ridiculous that Miller chose to use one of the same drugs he got banned for before, proving not only that he hasn’t learned from his past mistakes but that he can’t feign ignorance like last time. Testing positive for a banned substance once and claiming it is from a tainted substance might let some people give you the benefit of the doubt, but testing positive for it again shuts the door on you.
Hearn was quick to comment on the situation, saying “I feel sorry for him because I think he has a psychological problem. I don’t think he can bring himself to fight without taking PEDs… His career is over… I don’t think any credible promoter will ever let him fight again.”
While Arum hasn’t publicly made a decision about Miller’s future, he did tell The Ring, “Obviously we’re extremely disappointed…I spoke to the Nevada State Athletic Commission, and they confirmed to me that Miller tested positive for a substance that he had already tested positive for a year ago… Obviously, if he has tested positive for a PED, he’s not fighting.”
Surrounded by a bad team?
While it’s easy to blame Miller, of course, we should, we also need to remember that “No man is an island.” Who on Miller’s team thought it would be sound advice, or action, to source PEDs for a man that was lucky to get a second chance after failing a drug test just a year ago? Either Miller has surrounded himself with a terrible team, or he did it all himself. I tend to believe that people rarely make decisions like that all on their own, or without at least seeking advice, so it’s crazy to me that no one stopped him from doing it.
At 6’4” and 300lbs, Miller has a huge frame anyway even when passing drug tests, so all he had to do was get through his next few fights unaided. What Hearn said, “I don’t think he can bring himself to fight without taking PEDs” might be true, in which case Miller wasn’t ready to box again full stop. What happens now with his boxing career is uncertain. He’ll face a ban for sure but the question is whether that ban is a few months or lifelong.
Handing out opportunities
As Miller has been pulled from his July 9th comeback fight against Jerry Forrest, Carlos Takam has already thrown his name into the hat as a replacement. Takam’s promoter, Joe DeGuardia of Star Boxing, said “In July…Carlos Takam was going to fight Oscar Rivas”, Rivas later puled out after injuring his elbow, “On one hand, Carlos has the opportunity to get back into the ring. But for the past two weeks, he didn’t think he was fighting. But he’ll do what he’s gotta do to get ready, and we anticipate that’ll be the fight. And Forrest versus Rivas as a foe? On paper, Forrest is easier, but style-wise, it’s a difficult fight. Forrest has a very different style, it’s not the kind of style you love, versus a moving southpaw. But my guy wants the fight…No, Forrest wouldn’t be our first choice…The first was Rivas but in the world and climate we’re in, this turns out to be an opportunity for Carlos, and he won’t pass that up.”
It’s history repeating itself; with Ruiz gaining the biggest opportunity and payday of his life due to Miller’s last ban, if Takam is brought in by Top Rank he gets gifted a replacement fight for his own canceled event on July 14th. While Forrest is not as lucrative an opponent for Takam as AJ was to Ruiz, at 39-years-old Takam has limited time left to fight at the top level and will be happy he got a replacement opponent at such short notice. With the lack of fights going on during the current pandemic many boxers consider themselves lucky to get on the few cards that are being offered, so Miller throwing this opportunity away is extra careless.