NINE months ago, heavyweight Jarrell Miller failed multiple tests that proved beyond any doubt he was a drug cheat. Thrown out of a fight with Anthony Joshua but not out of the sport, it didn’t take long for him to land on his feet. This week the news was released on social media that he has now been signed by Top Rank – arguably the most powerful promotional outfit in the boxing world – and his comeback will be broadcast by ESPN.
On Instagram, the post attracted 3,127 likes. On Twitter it achieved 85 retweets and 302 likes. On Facebook there were 30 shares.
There were plenty of critical comments too but, despite his thwarted plan to bludgeon another fighter with illegal weapons, it appears most are happy to see him back. And those social media numbers will be dwarfed by the amount of people who will watch him on TV, the gate receipts and – best of all – the money that ultimately ends up in Miller’s back pocket.
This is the entertainment business, after all. Shame the sport of boxing looks so utterly spineless, granted, but so what? Those who care, who really care, are very much in the minority. This is a numbers game where doing the right thing only gets in the way. The message on drugs is clear: Roll up your sleeves, flick the needle and get stuck in! If you get caught, don’t worry. Second chances are rolled out like red carpets in this town.
But, of course, we should worry. We should be utterly dismayed that this is how the sport works. The rules on getting rumbled for cheating go something like this: If you can earn money for a promoter or a sanctioning body or a commission or a broadcaster, you will be forgiven. The more money you can earn, the quicker you’ll be allowed back. But while it’s tempting to blame the promoters who broker these deals, to do so would be like pointing the finger at a baby for helping themselves to the biscuits that have fallen in their lap. Promoters can’t help themselves. They live for the thrill of making money.
No, though they don’t help this whole mess (after all, if every promoter refused to work with any fighter who had failed a test then the problem would go away overnight), they’re merely manipulating a broken system that now has too many parts to come together and function properly. There are myriad commissions in America, for example. If you break the rules in one state, you’ll be welcomed into another. The sanctioning bodies make it up as they go along but – one thing that remains consistent – they will not work together for the better of the sport. There are numerous drug testing agencies, some better than others, but none empowered enough to make any kind of difference.
At Boxing News, we have said for a long time that there are not only too many cooks, there are too many kitchens. And as the case of Jarrell Miller proves, an infestation of cheats.
The war on drugs is declared a lost cause as of now.