He’s been doing this thing for three decades now, has Greg Cohen.
Along the way, he’s promoted some heavyweight who could crack, and yap. Hasim Rahman…Shannon Briggs…
And the NJ-based promoter tells us that he’s currently affiliated with a guy he thinks can surpass those folks, in the sphere of punching power/smack-talking ability.
Jarrell Miller, says Cohen, who co-promotes the Brooklyn-bred Miller, fighting July 29 at Barclays Center in Brooklyn, is special in this realm.
“Dmitriy Salita and I have been partners since November 2014, we’ve been co promoting Jarrell,” Cohen told me. “There’s been lot of water under the bridge,” he said, referring to some jousting about contractual terms beween fighter and promoters, “but the good news is Jarrell 18-0-1 with 16 KOs, and I think he’s best heavyweight of the guys that are not champions. And I think he can beat any of the champions.”
Of course, Cohen has that confidence being informed by his status as promoter to this massive attraction, this 300 pounder who makes one hopeful, at least, that just maybe American boxing fans can once again latch on to a heavyweight who is skilled both in ring and entertaining outside of it.
“Gerald Washington on July 29 is Jarrell’s toughest test to date, by far,” said Cohen, who also promotes Rob Brant, taking part in the super middleweight portion of the World Boxing Super Series. “If Jarrell does what he’s supposed to do, KOs his opponent, on the 29th, people going to hear a lot more about him, very quickly. I’d expect him to fight for world title in less than 12 months.”
We then chatted about the ways to win. Skills paying the bills and just getting the W are well and good, but that isn’t the fast—or even slow—track to prominence, we agreed.
“I couldn’t agree more, especially for heavyweghts. Guys like Chocolatito, at 115, we don’t expect as much regarding knockouts. But why did everyone love Mike Tyson so much? He was knocking everybody out. That’s why Anthony Joshua and Deontay Wilder are so popular.”
We then discussed levels of popularity. One gets the feeling, if Miller can keep progressing, and in fact gets matched with Wilder, and stops Wilder, his level of popularity could know no bounds.
“I feel that night and day in terms of charisma and personality. Jarrell is so outspoken, almost arrogant and confident, and it’s real, not contrived. Sometimes you hear Deontay Wilder saying stuff and it sounds like what he thinks he’s supposed to say. With Jarrell, it’s real. I’ve been around some heavyweight champions, I promoted Rahman, Samuel Peter, Briggs…I’ve never seen a kid more confident than Jarrell in his own ability. In his own mind he should be champ right now, he believes he’s on that level right now. Is there concern about being over confident? I’m always concerned about that…but that’s Jarrell, that’s who he is,” Cohen continued. “I don’t know him for ten years but I was told years ago he was as confident as this. I wouldn’t call it over confident, it’s how he’s wired. There’s a lot of self belief. You have to remember, he had a very successful kickboxing career, he fought top, top competition. So it’s not like he hasn’t been there before.”
Cohen also touched on his fighter Brant. The 26 year old Minnesotan holds a 22-0 record and willmeet up with German ex 175 champ Juergen Braehmer (48-3; age 38).
“This is a pretty incredible opportunity for Robert. He’s in to win it,” Cohen said. “We couldn’t be more excited, we got the guy we wanted. We weren’t seeded, none of the seeded guys picked Robert and that showed how much he’s respected by his peers. Braehmer is coming down, 175 to 168, is coming off a loss, he was stopped for the first time (by Nathan Cleverly, in October 2016). We believe Rob is too young, too athletic, too busy for Braehmer…it’s his time to shine. That fight is penciled in for September 23 and the front runner for site is San Antonio, I’ve been told. TV? The World Boxing Super Series is really backed by Europeans, so we have not been notifed who is the US carrier, I think it will be coming in the next couple weeks. As to the level of carrier, I’m sure it will be a high level carrier, these events, the people behind this tournament have spared no expense. I tried to bring to the table an almost ten thouand seat arena, it was a nice deal, but the WBSS people said it was not high class enough, they do everything first class. I’m sure fans are going to love the product. I think this format is brilliant. From the fighter perspective, this is the ultimate form of prizefighting. You win your first fight you get a million dollar bonus. That’s crazy! You tell me guys won’t dig a little deeper! And Robert is the only American in the WBSS, so it’s pretty cool. You saw what happened with Andre Ward in the Super Six, this is really a launchng pad to stardom.”
Cohen also mentioned that he is looking forward to getting deeper into live streaming. He’s been mightily impressed with the Facebook Fightnight Live series, put together by Linacre Media, on which two of the shows I’ve worked color on. “I believe this streaming of live events, of boxing, of all sports, it’s where the future is, and we want to be ahead of the curve. Facebook has a two billion member base. ESPN has less than 90 million homes. When we get a little bit of momentum and Facebook marketing push, it’s not going to be so difficult to get seven figure viewership.”
We then circled back…Cohen didn’t want to travel beyond July 29 when I asked if Miller and Wilder are on a collision course. “Let’s get his victory and then me and Dmitriy and Jarrell will sit down and decide what’s best. Wilder would certainly be a possibility, fighting on one of his cards. But whether it be Deontay Wilder, Anthony Joshua, Joseph Parker, Jarrell’s getting a belt, within the next year. Woodsy, how exciting it is right now with AJ fights in England, Jarrell has that ability to get Americans that excited. Jarrell could bring that to this side of the pond!”