Jan 20, 2016

Big Baby Miller thumb.jpgBy Craig Rybczynski -- The Rochester Knighthawks brought in a heavyweight for their showdown with the Toronto Rock on Jan. 16th. No it wasn't the return of tough guy Tim O'Brien. Instead, the Knighthawks brought boxer Jarrell "Big Baby" Miller to Connors & Ferris Field at The Blue Cross Arena.

"You guys wanted an enforcer, here he is," joked Knighthawks Owner and General Manager Curt Styres to his players.

Styres and the Knighthawks hosted the fighter six days before his WBA sanctioned NABA (North American Boxing Association) Heavyweight title bout against Donovan Dennis on January 22nd at the Casino del Sol in Tucson, Ariz. “Big Baby” Miller, who is ranked 15th in the world, attended the Knighthawks game as part of a media tour of Rochester.

“I like Rochester. It’s different than Brooklyn,” said Miller, who has a professional boxing record of 15-0-1 with 13KO’s. “It’s a little bit more laid back and I’m away from distractions. The people are really cool.”

The hulking 6-foot-4, 272-pound fighter, outfitted in a Knighthawks jersey, was a guest of honor Saturday. His evening at the downtown arena began with an introduction to Curt Styres, who officially welcomed “Big Baby” to the team with the presentation of a Knighthawks jersey. Alongside one of the most passionate men in lacrosse, he was introduced to the sport as he cradled a stick and watched the pregame shoot around. Miller even found time to give pointers to Knighthawks rookie scrapper Derek Searle.

“It was really cool, something I wasn’t expecting at all,” said Searle of his pregame encounter with the future champ. “I was in warmups and looked over at the bench and saw this massive human being who looked pretty tough. Curt was nice enough to introduce me to him. With me getting into a little tilt the game before, I was happy with a little bit of advice.”

After posing for promotional photos on the turf, “Big Baby” addressed the team before their East Division clash with the Toronto Rock. Standing in the center of the locker room, he offered words of inspiration and previewed his upcoming title fight.

“It’s great to meet guys who are so passionate about what they do,” said Knighthawks forward Dan Dawson. “Being undefeated and having a chance to be the best in the world, and having him in our dressing room to give us some words of encouragement, is definitely inspiring for us.”
The feeling was mutual, as “Big Baby” enjoyed meeting some of the world’s greatest lacrosse players.

“It’s always awesome to meet other competitors from other sports,” he said. “The energy is always great. The fans are great. I am loving it.”

The next stop for Miller was an autograph session, where he was greeted by the entire Knightingales dance team. During the game, he received a standing ovation from the 8,300 fans as they spotlighted the future heavyweight champ. His whirlwind day with the Knighthawks ended by accompanying Styres and his family to their end-zone suite to watch Rochester topple Toronto, 12-5.

It has certainly been quite a busy schedule for “Big Baby” as he has made stops at local restaurants, youth centers, and television and radio shows. It’s all part of the pre-fight routine choreographed by co-manager Steve Nelson, who did a similar tour with his last heavyweight champ, Hasim “The Rock” Rahman, which included a stop at the Knighthawks game.

“We truly appreciated the hospitality and courtesies extended to us by Curt Styres and his entire organization,” said Nelson. “We hope to visit another game in the future as ‘Big Baby’ becomes a part of the Rochester sports community.”

On Friday, it will be Miller’s big night as he fights to win his first heavyweight championship. When asked about his thoughts on the bout, “Big Baby” admitted that the fight was something he will zero in on when he gets to the arena in Tucson. On this particular occasion, it was about soaking in the experience.

“I thoroughly enjoyed my visit to the Rochester Knighthawks game,” he said. “I found the game itself to be very exciting, but the highlight of my visit was to be able to give some motivational advice to the players in the dressing room prior to the game.”

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