The Heavyweight bout between undefeated rising contender Jarrell Miller and battle tested veteran Fred Kassi was an interesting fight on paper. Miller, a fighter who has risen to top ten contender status in the World Boxing Association (WBA), the International Boxing Federation (IBF) and the World Boxing Organization (WBO) respective Heavyweight ratings has quickly established himself as a fighter to watch having knocked out fifteen of eighteen professional opponents prior to the fight with Kassi and had also won the North American Boxing Organization (NABO) championship in the Heavyweight division.
In previewing this fight, this observer stated that two questions are usually asked when a fighter establishes himself as a top contender. A question of whether or not that fighter will face a significant test as a top contender followed by a question of how long it might be before that fighter gets an opportunity at a world championship.
Some believed that Fred Kassi may have been the fighter to provide an answer to the first question of whether Miller would face a significant test. After all, Kassi had established himself as an opponent who has given fighters like Chris Arreola and Dominic Breazeale all they could handle and some might argue, Kassi deserved victories against both earning a draw against Arreola and a controversial decision loss against Breazeale.
Although Miller does have punching power, I did wonder how he would do against a fighter with an awkward style as well as hand speed such as Kassi. When the two fighters got in the ring at Rhinos Stadium in Rochester, NY on August 19th however, it did not turn out to be the test for Miller that some, including this observer, thought it might be.
The first round of this fight was dictated by Kassi as he was able to land punches and use lateral movement to evade the pressuring Miller. It was after this round that I felt somewhat validated in thinking that this fight would be one that would answer some questions about Miller, a fighter who has been developing a reputation as a “Knockout Artist.” Even though questions surrounding a knockout puncher’s stamina as a fight progresses are natural to ask, Miller would show in this fight the ability to quickly adapt.
In the second round, Miller began to let his hands go and was able to land to Kassi’s body. Miller would continue his attack in round three in landing offense to the body and head of Kassi. The effects of Miller’s body attack seemed to nullify Kassi’s movement as he was unable to move as quickly away from Miller in the second and third rounds as he was in the first round. It was after the third round where Kassi stopped the fight citing an injury to his right hand.
Even though some may not call this victory for Miller an exciting one, I was impressed by how well he executed his attack of Kassi. It should not be overlooked that Miller not only possesses the ability to knock an opponent out with either hand, but he is also a highly skilled combination puncher and that could be a valuable asset as he progresses toward competing against the top fighters in the Heavyweight division.
The question coming out of this fight is obviously what is next for Jarrell Miller? Although the idea of Miller being in consideration for a potential opportunity at a world championship at this stage could be a possibility, this observer believes that fights against the likes of David Price, Johann Duhaupas, and potentially a bout against someone like former two-division world champion David Haye could all be viable options before Miller sets his sights on one of the world champions of the division.
A victory over the likes of fighters like Haye, a former world champion in both the Cruiserweight and Heavyweight divisions or a win over a fighter like Duhaupas, who gave a spirited effort in his challenge of undefeated WBC world champion Deontay Wilder in September of last year would accomplish two things. It would not only give Miller further momentum toward a potential title shot, but it would also add another notable name and victory to his resume.
Even though this victory over Fred Kassi for Miller did not come via a highlight reel knockout, it was still an impressive performance and did accomplish the goal of taking a crucial step forward in his career against an experienced veteran. It will be interesting to see who Miller fights next and if he can continue to progress.
“And That’s The Boxing Truth.”
The Boxing Truth® is a registered trademark of Beau Denison All Rights Reserved.