The Monster is king: Miljas topples Carman for heavyweight crown
When a confident, almost solemn Mladen Miljas made his way to the ring accompanied by the not-so dulcet tones of Linkin Park’s “One Step Closer,” it proved rather fitting.
The bout was to be a barometer for the young fighter; was he ready for a considerable step up in competition or was the veteran champion Dillon Carman going to be too much?
It didn’t take long to find out.
In just the second round, Miljas battered Carman into submission, forcing a knockout stoppage. The now former champion was in a heap on the mat, unconscious from a pounding at the hands of Canada’s newest star.
“I didn’t believe Dillon was world class but I knew he was leagues above any opponent Mladen had ever faced,” said Miljas’ promoter, Lee Baxter of Lee Baxter Promotions. “You can ask anyone; my prediction was that both would hit the canvas and Mel will end it early.”
Turns out, Baxter’s predication was spot on.
The most shocking moment of the fight came just two minutes into the first round when both fighters unleashed violent left hooks that landed on their opponent’s chin, sending each of them to the canvas. The referee started counting both fighters down right away, but they were able to get up before the count of 10. Miljas had an intensely glazed look in his eyes as he scrambled to his feet, but smiled once he rose.
“I was laughing in my head. I wasn’t so much hurt, it was almost like I blinked and then the next second I saw the ground,” Miljas said. “When I got up, we looked at eachother and smiled.”
Baxter saw the smile from Miljas and knew it was going to be okay.
“When he got up, he was smiling,” Baxter said. “It was a huge shot out of nowhere, but he stood up and he was smiling. You knew right away he wasn’t out of it.”
The crowd was ravenous from that point, reaching a fever pitch in the second round when Miljas dropped Carman for a second time. Carman, showing heart, got to his feet yet again but it didn’t take long for ‘The Monster’ to knock him unconscious with a flurry of unprotected blows against the ropes.
“(When the fight was over) I just said thank you,” Baxter said. “This was a long reigning grudge match between me and another promotion company (Global Legacy) that I believe didn’t start his career off correctly, that was very gratifying. There was a lot on the line, my reputation was on the line.”
Baxter had felt some criticism for pushing Miljas too fast, that maybe a loss to a veteran heavyweight like Carman would set him back. Admittedly, even this reporter had his doubts.
Instead, Baxter and Miljas proved the doubters wrong. The young fighter showed off his unparalleled power, which we knew about, and the heart to get up off the mat, which we were less sure about.
“Everyone said I was too inexperienced, that I wasn’t at his level,” Miljas said. “This shows me that I am at a level where I can compete high in boxing, but also that I have a long way to go.”
The win takes Miljas’ record to 8-0, with eight knockouts. He is now the NCC Canadian Heavyweight Champion.
Carman was adamant he would be no one’s stepping stone, but on this night, that’s exactly what he was. Miljas will use this win to catapult himself into the top 100 world rankings, likely setting up showdowns with some of Canada’s other heavyweight fighters, such as top ranked Simon Kean, former CFL player Adam Braidwood and Ukranian bruiser Oleksandr Teslenko.
Miljas says he’ll be back in the gym Monday with hopes of fighting in January of February. Promoter Lee Baxter wasn’t so sure.
“The kid has fought eight times in 18 months, my guys are moving so fast and they need a break,” Baxter said. “I need him to enjoy the holidays. I know he won’t listen, but that’s what I want him to do.”
Baxter is officially back February 10 with a show headlined by Logan McGuiness, with rumblings of another show taking place in March. In a pre-fight interview, he suggested that Lee Baxter Promotions would host four shows in the first quarter of 2018, one of them taking place out of province. If Miljas is ready to fight, there will be options.
The king is dead, long live the king.