Brooklyn-native Jarrell “Big Baby” Miller will make his Glory World Series kickboxing debut on Saturday, hoping to take care of unfinished business against Mirko “Cro Crop” Filipovic.
The 39-year-old Croatian handed Miller his only loss in 22 bouts in a unanimous decision last year, giving the undefeated boxer a reason to temporarily shift his focus back to kickboxing on a national stage.
“It was kind of sitting on the back of my mind,” said Miller, “and I feel like I needed to close this door on kickboxing before I could put my heart 100% into boxing.”
The 25-year-old grew up in Bed-Stuy, later moving to Flatbush and then Queens. He started training Muay Thai as a way to defend himself after getting jumped by a large group during a schoolyard fight. Spending five months in the gym, Miller would fight multiple guys at once, the same way he was attacked on the street, becoming an aggressive presence in the ring.
“I just fell in love with fighting. That’s how I got my start, really, was just getting beat up,” he said, laughing.
As an amateur boxer, Miller reached the final of the 2007 New York Golden Gloves heavyweight tournament. Winning his first 19 kickboxing matches, while also becoming a professional boxer, Miller was recruited by K-1, one of the sport’s most prestigious organizations, in 2012. In his promotional debut, he knocked out UFC fighter Jack May in the first round at the K-1 World Grand Prix.
But Miller would end his perfect streak a few months later against Filipovic, reverting exclusively to the boxing scene, until now. The New Yorker’s confidence heading into the grudge match is at an all-time high, not phased by Cro Cop’s legend status in the kickboxing and MMA worlds.
“He’s never beat me, the judges gave it to him,” said Miller, who is represented by Star of David Promotions. “The toughest thing really is just making sure he shows up. I show up and I come to fight; never quit, never retreat, no mercy.”