Heavyweight up-and-comer Jarrell “Big Baby” Miller will face the most notable opponent of his career when he takes on Fred Kassi on Aug. 19. They’ll meet at Rhinos Stadium, an outdoor soccer venue in Rochester, New York, the hometown of Miller’s manager, Steve Nelson.
The scheduled 10-round bout will headline a tripleheader on Showtime’s “ShoBox: The New Generation” series (10 p.m. ET/PT) that will also include two other 10-round fights: Nikolay Potapov (14-0-1, 6 KOs), of Russia, against Cleveland’s Antonio Nieves (16-0-1, 8 KOs) in a meeting of bantamweight prospects; and welterweight knockout artist Bakhtiyar Eyubov (10-0, 10 KOs), a Brooklyn, New York-based Kazakhstan native, taking on San Francisco’s Karim Mayfield (19-3-1, 11 KOs).
“This is an amazing opportunity,” Miller said. “I’m in the main event going against a tough opponent, and he’s definitely game to fight.
“I’m ready to put his lights out like I do everybody else. I know he’s durable and a little older than me. He’s a tough guy, and he can take a beating. So far, he’s only been stopped once. I’ll be the second.”
Miller knows what he needs to focus on leading up to the fight.
“I’m going back to basics in this camp. I’m an advanced fighter, but there are a couple of things I’ve wanted to work on,” Miller said. “It’s easy for heavyweights to rely on power and forget about technique. You see what happened to Dominic Breazeale against Anthony Joshua [in a June 25 world title bout]? His power didn’t mean jack because there was no technique behind it. I want to be the kind of fighter who puts his technique first and power last.”
The 27-year-old Miller (17-0-1, 15 KOs), of Brooklyn, New York, will be fighting for the eighth time since the beginning of 2015 and is coming off a one-sided second-round knockout of Nick Guivas on May 27.
Kassi (18-5-1, 10 KOs), a New Orleans-based Cameroon native, is 0-3-1 in his past four bouts, but in each time he has faced off against a reputable opponent in a tough fight. His most recent bout was a seventh-round technical decision against Hughie Fury, the cousin of heavyweight world champion Tyson Fury, in April that ended when Fury suffered a cut from an accidental head clash and could not continue.
The other opponents in the stretch included former world title challengers Breazeale and Chris Arreola as well as Amir Mansour. Kassi drew with Arreola in a fight many thought he deserved to win.
“I approach Jarrell like all young fighters,” Kassi said. “I’m a seasoned pro that has fought top-tier opponents. Jarrell will have to bring his A-game against me.
“He’s got size and power, but it’s nothing I haven’t seen. I’m tired of getting robbed by judges like in El Paso [against Arreola] and in Alabama [against Breazeale]. That should have been me fighting Anthony Joshua in the O2 [Arena]. Against Fury, the cut saved him. Another round or two and he would have been done.”
Kassi finds motivation in how others have viewed his recent fights.
“We heard what we always hear, ‘Oh, Fury had a bad night, so did Breazeale, so did Arreola.’ They all seem to have bad nights when I’m in the other corner,” Kassi said. “I’m hoping to actually get some credit when Miller has a bad night, too. I’m a heavyweight boxer, that’s ‘boxer’ underlined. I move my feet, I use angles, I hit and don’t get hit. That’s boxing, and it’s my art. Boxing fans are going to have a great time watching me dismantle a giant.”
Eyubov, 29, is taking a big step up in competition after tearing through his first 10 foes, all inside three rounds. Mayfield, 35, is vastly experienced, although he is coming off a one-sided 10-round decision to Dmitry Mikhaylenko on short notice on Jan. 30.
“I am very happy to be back on Showtime fighting the best opponent of my career,” Eyubov said. “I know this will be my hardest fight to date, and that’s what motivates me. I am grateful that I am getting an opportunity to prove myself, and I want to show that I am ready for the best fighters in the world. I am ready for the boxing world to know my name. Aug. 19, Karim Mayfield, here I come.”
Potapov, 25, is coming off a 10-round majority draw against unbeaten Stephon Young on April 15. Nieves, 29, has won four in a row since an eight-round split draw against Young in June 2015.