518-527-2331

By Michael Rivest, The Record

Boxing fans love a comeback. It’s part of the sport’s mythology. It even comes with its own background music. Just talking about it can get the Rocky Theme playing in our heads.

 


Boxing fans love a comeback. It’s part of the sport’s mythology. It even comes with its own background music. Just talking about it can get the Rocky Theme playing in our heads.

But insiders know that a comeback is usually a bad idea. “I don’t believe in them,” said Albany trainer Andy Schott. “Boxing is an all-or-nothing sport. Once you go, you shouldn’t come back,” adding after a pause, “… unless you’re Brian.” Trainer Kyle Provenzano agrees: “Coming back calls for too much, just not from him,” he said, nodding in the direction of the same Brian.

They were speaking of Schenectady’s Brian Miller (8-1-4, 3 KOs). It’s been 18 months since the former NYS lightweight champion and WBF All-Americas champion stepped between the ropes. In the mathematics of boxing, that’s like five years. But Miller is on the March 10, 2012 ARES Promotions card at the Empire State Plaza. He’s already had two opponents pull out, but some nervy fighter will sign on, count on it.

Miller’s last outing was his only loss. On Oct. 2, 2010 he took on Ikem Orji, the tough Nigerian. With only 20 seconds remaining in the fight, the referee decided that Miller had had enough. “I wanted to go out on my shield,” Miller said.

But that’s not why he called it quits. It was what his wife, Kari, left on top of his gym shorts as a surprise a few months later. “She put a positive pregnancy test there,” he said. “I started crying, I was so happy.”

Miller’s new responsibilities as a dad changed everything. He could make more money in overtime as a Corrections Officer at Green Correctional Facility than he could fighting, so guess what got jettisoned from his life.

He approached fatherhood with a fighter’s commitment. Just watching him with seven-month-old Preston says it all. “Brian’s so devoted to him,” Kari said. “He’d keep a picture of Preston in his car, so that when he had to work a double shift, he could look at it.”

I remember driving to Turning Stone Casino with Miller and Provenzano in February 2010 when Miller had to face former 2005 U.S. National Team member Jose Guzman, a solid fighter with a history of 100 amateur bouts to Miller’s 30. Did he talk about his fight plan, or his anxieties facing such an opponent?

The fight never even came up in conversation. Instead, Miller talked about his Mom, Kari, religion, and his desire to be a Dad someday. The uninformed, who insist on equating boxers with brutality, should be around at those moments; but they never are.

Miller defeated Guzman in a 3rd round TKO.

When cutbacks in overtime began to reduce what Miller could make for his family outside of boxing, his thoughts returned to a familiar place: inside of it. “That’s one of the two things that made me decide to return,” he said. “The other was working Javy’s corner [gym-mate Javy Martinez] at his last fight. That just did it, I couldn’t wait.”

So why is Miller the exception to trainers Schott and Provenzano’s comeback admonitions?

“Brian’s unique,” said Provenzano. “You never worry about conditioning with him. He trains like a maniac. And as for making weight, are you kidding? The guy weighs his food.”

“Brian didn’t need ‘the lecture,’” added Schott. “He may not have the greatest foot speed or hand speed, but what he does have is the heart of a lion. If he says he’s back, we know exactly what that means.”

And here’s a little story to explain what it will mean to whomever signs as Miller’s opponent on March 10:

Miller won his WBF title against prospect Danny McDermott in a North Bergen, N.J. brawl that was called the 2010 Garden State Fight of the Year. “There were standing ovations after each round,” Schott recalled.

Miller broke his thumb in the first round of that eight-round fight. He essentially defeated McDermott with one hand, and did it in McDermott’s hometown.

He’ll be using both hands in Albany on March 10. Also, Preston and Kari will be ringside.

Brian Miller is back.

For tickets to the March 10 ARES Promotions fight card, call 518-527-2331 (www.aresboxing.com)

Go to this article on The Record website.

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