Ladarius Miller exercising patience on the way to the top

Once-beaten lightweight prospect praises the lessons and work ethic he learned from Floyd Mayweather as he continues his rise up the 135-pound ranks entering Friday night's PBC on Bounce main event against Dennis Galarza.

Memphis is known for barbecue, basketball, bluffs and the blues. Not for boxing.

That could be about to change if Memphis native Ladarius Miller has anything to say about it.

Miller left his hometown at age 17 to embark on a boxing career and set out for Las Vegas. His first stop in the Mecca of Boxing was the gym of undefeated welterweight champion Floyd Mayweather, where young Miller watched and listened to everything and everyone around him.

Nearly eight years later, Miller, a rising lightweight star, remains a fixture at Mayweather Boxing Club and is currently under contract with Mayweather Promotions.

“To be a teenager and come to the gym of the best fighter in the world, and to get to watch him train and see what it takes to become a world champion and stay a world champion [was amazing],” Miller said. “To sit there and watch him, it’s a blueprint to be successful. It’s just hard work and dedication. If you’re a talented fighter, and you put in the hard work and dedication, you have no choice but to go to the top.”

Which is where Miller (16-1, 5 KOs) is headed. The next big test for the 25-year-old lightweight is this Friday night in the main event of a Bounce TV card (9 p.m. ET/6 p.m. PT) at Sam’s Town Hotel and Gambling Hall in Las Vegas, where he faces one of his toughest foes to date, Dennis Galarza (16-3, 9 KOs) in a 10-round scrap.

It’s Miller’s first fight as a headliner and 13th consecutive bout in his adopted hometown.

Mayweather Promotions CEO Leonard Ellerbe credits Miller’s listening skills as a big reason why he has become a contender.

“(Listening to Floyd) has been a major factor in the progress he’s made. He’s a tremendous young fighter and has a very bright future,” Ellerbe said. “And he’s still learning. He’s a gym rat and he listens. And that plays a major part when a promoter is mapping out your career. Floyd has done a tremendous job of teaching him the game.”

Ellerbe preaches patience, however, when discussing Miller’s march toward a title shot.

“He’s very patient, and is making tremendous strides toward his ultimate goal, and that’s becoming a world champion,” Ellerbe said. “Collectively, when we feel the time is right, we’re going to go for the gusto. But right now, what’s the rush? He’s gaining valuable experience with these fights against very good, tough competition. He’s very dedicated and we couldn’t be more proud of the progress he’s made.”

Ellerbe said there are even plans to bring Miller back to Memphis for a future fight.

Miller, who takes the name of his hometown as his nickname and is trained by Rafael Ramos, is coming off a unanimous decision in May against Mexican Jose Marrufo. Galarza, from Brooklyn, N.Y., lost a close 10-round decision to veteran title contender Edner Cherry in April, his second loss in his last six fights.

Miller, meanwhile, has reeled off seven victories in a row, four by stoppage, including a first-round KO of Carlos Padilla last February, since his only career loss to Rolando Chinea in 2016. Among those seven victories was a unanimous 10-round decision against 2012 U.S. Olympian Jamel Herring last August, a victory Miller ranks as the most significant of his career.

His first-round knockout of Padilla wasn’t surprising, says Miller, who dismisses his low knockout percentage (29%) as misleading.

“I know I can punch. I know I have power,” Miller explains. “Like I say, some guys have chins, some guys can take punches better than others. Any guys that step in the ring with me, they’re definitely going to feel my power. I haven’t heard anybody say I can’t punch. Until I hear that, then we can start a conversation … As long as you come out with your hand raised, that’s what it’s all about. Knockouts are just icing on the cake. When I fought Padilla, I was looking for the win, not a knockout. The knockout was a bonus.”

If you’re as passionate about the sport and your career as Mayweather is, it’s bound to rub off. You tell yourself, ‘man, I need to be working hard just like this.’ It makes me want to go out there and push myself to get to that next level. Lightweight contender Ladarius Miller on training

Miller’s forte is an all-around skill set and high ring IQ honed over the years at Mayweather’s gym, where he had the chance to spar with the champ during two of Mayweather’s most important training camps: Manny Pacquiao and Conor McGregor.

“If you’re as passionate about the sport and your career as (Mayweather) is, it’s bound to rub off,” Miller said. “You sit there and think, ‘how does this guy work so hard?’ You tell yourself, ‘man, I need to be working hard just like this.’ It keeps me hungry and keeps me motivated and makes me want to go out there and push myself to get to that next level.”

Miller used that motivation to outbox and outwork Herring, who came into that fight with only one loss. He made the former Marine pay after his superior footwork and movement forced Herring into missing many of his punches.

“I have real good movement and footwork, I have real good defense,” Miller states without a hint of braggadocio. “I have that ability to hit and not get hit. That’s a boxer’s favorite. You can go in there and make a boxer pay every time he misses. If you make a guy pay every time he makes a mistake that tends to wear on an opponent. You break a guy down mentally, and the rest is history.”

Miller hopes to break down Galarza the way he’s broken down most of his opponents.

How each deals with the other’s style is likely to be the key factor in the outcome. Miller knows what he needs to do against an opponent he’s familiar with but has never fought.

“If I want to put my name in the conversation with the guys who have the titles, Galarza is a guy that I got to get past,” he said. “I think I’m a better fighter and I’m going to do what it takes to win. I know he’s just as hungry as me and he’s going to come to fight. That being said, I have to stay focused, stay prepared and take this fight as serious as hell, if not twice as serious.

“I’ve done my research, and I know the caliber of opponents he’s faced. I know the task that’s at hand and I believe I can get in the ring with any of the best and come out on top. I feel like it’s my time and nobody is going to beat me right now.”

For a closer look at Miller vs Galarza, check out our fight page.

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