Heavyweight contender Jarrell “Big Baby” Miller does not have anything against the undefeated Bogdan Dinu and was cordial and complimentary to him when they met face-to-face at a news conference to announce their fight, made on short notice, three weeks ago.
But now it’s fight time, so pardon the usually affable big man if he is a tad testy as he gets ready to fight Dinu in the 12-round main event on Saturday (DAZN, 9 p.m. ET main card, preliminaries at 6) at the Kansas Star Arena in Mulvane, Kansas.
“Bogdan, he’s a fighter like me, he had a different route growing up in Romania, and nothing was given to him, but he’s fighting ‘Big Baby’ Miller and I’m a different animal. Saturday night I’m going to rip your head off,” Miller told Dinu when they were face-to-face again at the final prefight news conference on Thursday. “You’re in front of me and you’re trying to take something from me. I’m going to bury you Saturday night.”
Miller is marching toward a world title shot in his third fight of the year, his second in less than two months. He blew out former contender Tomasz Adamek, a former light heavyweight and cruiserweight titlist, in a second-round knockout win on Oct. 6.
“The main thing is being healthy. It’s all good. I’m in shape. I didn’t take no damage my last fight. I’ve been in the gym,” Miller said of the quick turnaround. “We know what we’re capable of doing, so it’s no problem.”
Miller has been extremely busy by heavyweight contender standards. The fight with Dinu will be his fifth in a little over a year, and the previous four all were against former heavyweight world title challengers: Adamek, Johann Duhaupas, Mariusz Wach and Gerald Washington.
“This man is one of the most active heavyweights in world boxing right now,” said Matchroom Boxing promoter Eddie Hearn, Miller’s co-promoter. “He demolished Tomasz Adamek in his backyard in Chicago, and he’s ready now, I believe, for a shot at a world title. I think he’s going to be very, very, very difficult to beat.
“People talk about his size [300-plus pounds], but people don’t talk about his chin or his endurance or his engine or his punch selection or his accuracy. And I think he’s a real player in the heavyweight division. We’re really looking to turn him into a star. He’s got a great personality. He has a big heart and he can really fight.”
Hearn also promotes unified world titleholder Anthony Joshua and top contender Dillian Whyte, both potential future opponents for Miller, who also would be happy to get a shot at titleholder Deontay Wilder should he beat Tyson Fury on Dec. 1.
“I want Anthony. If he’s not ready, I want Whyte,” Miller said. “I have a way better résumé than Dillian Whyte. The only guy on Deontay’s résumé of any kind is Luis Ortiz. Other than that, he hasn’t fought nobody.
“I am not afraid of Dillian — I’m afraid of no man. If AJ is not ready to face me with a title, then I’ll go and whoop Dillian’s butt. It’ll help my profile in Britain. [Whyte is] a clown. Nobody is afraid of him. He’s got a win over Lucas Browne and that’s it. For him to call people punks, he’s deluded. I’ve fought [four] world title contenders back-to-back. He turned down Mariusz Wach twice and he didn’t really want to fight Duhaupas.”
It appeared as though Miller (22-0-1, 19 KOs), 30, of Brooklyn, New York, would face Fres Oquendo on Saturday for a secondary title expected to be stripped from Manuel Charr because of a failed drug test that forced the cancellation of a September defense against Oquendo. There was also a chance that Miller might have faced interim titlist Trevor Bryan, but nothing came of that either.
Then Dinu (18-0, 14 KOs), 32, of Romania, got the call and was allowed to withdraw from an Oct. 27 fight in Bulgaria days before the bout to accept the higher-profile, more lucrative fight with Miller.
“I need a big fight. Miller has had a lot of big fights, and now this will be a good test for me,” said Dinu, who has sparred many rounds with Joshua. “I’m ready for this. I have worked hard for many years to get this opportunity, and I want to do a great job on Saturday night. I have a lot of experience and I have no fear of him. I know I can beat him. My style and my heart is enough to win the fight.”
Miller was happy that Dinu accepted the fight, but he’s not a big fan of opponent uncertainty.
“I’m the kind of person who likes to look at film, I like to study things, so it kind of sucks,” Miller said. “But we’re at that level where sometimes things happen so you kind of have to switch it on the fly. But no complaints. Trevor Bryan’s team got offered seven figures for this fight, and we couldn’t get a phone call back from [his promoter] Don King. So that was a big issue. The Romanian brother picked up the phone and they made the fight.”
The matter of whether the WBA’s secondary belt will be on the line or not had not been settled by Friday afternoon, even though Charr was suspended for six months by the sanctioning body earlier in the week.
While winning the secondary belt might be nice, it is not a motivating factor for Miller. He wants to fight the bigger names in the division.
“The main thing is to get the win and keep moving forward,” Miller said. “Am I super excited about the belt? Nah, not really.
“The big fights take some maneuvering and finessing, so building my profile, winning the regular title and getting into a mandatory spot is going to help me in that situation. I think I will definitely be in a spot to have an AJ or Deontay Wilder fight [next year], so I need to get this win in Kansas and stay busy, focused, injury-free and ready.”
Other fights of note on Saturday’s card:
Unified women’s middleweight world titlist Claressa Shields (6-0, 2 KO), of Flint, Michigan, the two-time U.S. Olympic gold medalist, defends her belts and also fights for a vacant title against Scotland’s Hannah Rankin (5-2, 1 KO).
Former lightweight world titlist and Garden City, Kansas, native Brandon Rios (34-4-1, 25 KOs), in the first fight of a three-fight deal with Hearn, takes on Mexico’s Ramon Alvarez (27-6-3, 16 KOs), the older brother of unified middleweight world champion Canelo Alvarez, in a 12-round junior middleweight bout.
Flyweight Nico Hernandez (5-0, 4 KOs), a 2016 U.S. Olympic bronze medalist and the hometown draw from nearby Wichita, Kansas, faces Houston’s Josue Morales (8-7-3, 0 KOs) in an eight-rounder.
Middleweights Gabe Rosado (24-11, 14 KOs), a former two-time world title challenger from Philadelphia, and Luis Arias (18-1, 9 KOs), of Milwaukee, who have relentlessly trash-talked, square off in a 12-rounder.