Can Jarrell 'Big Baby' Miller become a player in a crowded heavyweight division?

Heavyweight contender Jarrell Miller signed a co-promotional deal with Top Rank. Mike Stobe/Getty Images

Heavyweight Jarrell "Big Baby" Miller has not fought since November 2018, and that's on him.

Miller failed four Voluntary Anti-Doping Association-administered random drug tests for three different banned substances -- GW1516, human growth hormone and EPO -- ahead of what was supposed to be a shot at unified world titleholder Anthony Joshua on June 1.

The New York State Athletic Commission declined to license Miller due to the positive drug tests, and Andy Ruiz Jr. replaced him on a month's notice. Ruiz pulled off an upset by knocking Joshua out in the seventh round in a massive upset at Madison Square Garden in New York. Miller (23-0-1, 20 KOs), 31, of Brooklyn, New York, was left to rebuild his career and reputation.

The first step of his comeback was signing a multiyear deal to bring on Top Rank as his co-promoter, along with his longtime promoters Greg Cohen and Dmitriy Salita. The next is to obtain a license, which might not be easy, given the multiple failed tests. But assuming he can clear that hurdle, he'll be back.

Dan Rafael and Steve Kim answer the key questions about his comeback:

How does the heavyweight landscape change with Miller now with Top Rank?

It doesn't change much, but it gives Top Rank a notable heavyweight addition to a stable that includes lineal champion Tyson Fury, Kubrat Pulev (one of Joshua's mandatory challengers after he defeated Ruiz in the rematch in December), unbeaten former European champion Agit Kabayel, former world title challengers Carlos Takam and Bryant Jennings, and prospects Guido Vianello, Sonny Conto and Jared Anderson.

Nobody is going to hand Miller the world title shot that he threw away last year. But if he can get licensed, rattle off a couple of wins, look halfway decent and pass his future drug tests, he certainly could loom as an eventual opponent for Fury or the other heavyweights Top Rank promotes.

Miller is a good talker and should be able to drum up interest in any fight he's in. He and Fury jawing at each other would make for an epic promotion, but that fight does not seem likely in the immediate future, as Fury could have two more fights against Deontay Wilder in 2020, staring with a rematch on Feb. 22. -- Dan Rafael

Does Miller have any chance against the best of the division?

While some might downplay his chances against the upper echelon, how many thought Ruiz stood much of a chance against Joshua back in June? As they say, styles make fights.

Miller matches up pretty well with Ruiz, who doesn't tower over him like Fury, Joshua and Wilder. Ruiz is a guy who likes to be relatively stationary, and Miller won't need a GPS to locate him. Fury, with his movement and length, would most likely be the toughest stylistic pairing. Wilder has a powerful right hand that could end a fight at any moment, and you wonder if Miller could evade it for all 12 rounds.

Miller has a big, thick build and is very durable. He also has a good engine, which seems to get stronger as fights progress. -- Steve Kim

When will Miller return, and whom should he fight next?

Miller and his team hoped that he could fight at least once before the end of 2019, but getting the deal done was difficult and took much longer than either side anticipated. Top Rank planned to put him in its pay-per-view slot on the Wilder-Fury rematch card, but the deal still was not signed. According to multiple sources, everybody involved -- Miller, Top Rank, Cohen and Salita -- finally agreed to terms, and then Salita went back to Arum and tried to renegotiate, causing Top Rank chairman Bob Arum to wash his hands of the whole thing and walk away. Cooler heads prevailed, and the deal they had all agreed to got signed.

But it was too late for Miller to appear on the Wilder-Fury 2 card. When he will return is totally up in the air. He still has licensing issues as well. As one Top Rank official said, "We have no idea when or who he would fight. Nothing is done on that or close to it."

He won't face a top contender in his return, but he won't face a novice with no shot to win either. -- Dan Rafael

Can Miller leave his suspension behind and become a title challenger once again?

There's really no reason he can't. Although the division is top-heavy with the likes of Wilder, Fury, Ruiz and Joshua, after that, things drop off a bit in terms of quality. Dillian Whyte, Luis Ortiz, Adam Kownacki and Oleksandr Usyk are next in the heavyweight ladder, and Miller can be added to that group when he fights again.

Although the perception of "Big Baby" is now at an all-time low, the reality is that boxing and, really, all sports -- for better or worse -- are forgiving (or perhaps forgetful) when it comes to athletes who run afoul of the PED police. With the backing of Top Rank, Miller will surely get some opportunities on a big stage to rebuild his career and reputation. Should he win his next couple of fights with strong showings, he could find himself back in the rankings. -- Steve Kim