Anthony Joshua’s heavyweight title defense vs. Jarrell Miller formally announced
The Ring broke the news February 1 that Anthony Joshua would make his U.S. debut in a heavyweight title defense against Jarrell Miller.
The fight, which will be streamed on DAZN, has now been formally announced for June 1 at New York’s Madison Square Garden. Joshua will put his WBA, IBF and WBO straps on the line in addition to his ranking as The Ring’s top-rated heavyweight.
“Big Baby,” a former kickboxing champion, will enjoy his first crack at a title in boxing after scoring consecutive early-round knockouts in October and November. Miller will also boast home-field advantage: he hails from Brooklyn, New York.
Joshua (22-0, 21 knockouts) has never competed outside the U.K. He’s already a star in Europe, but now he’ll have the opportunity to establish his name stateside, too. The 29-year-old Brit was slated to return to Wembley Stadium for an April 13 defense, but DAZN executive chairman John Skipper applied the full-court press in convincing promoter Eddie Hearn to bring the fight across the pond.
The fledgling platform now will play host to marquee events in consecutive months; Canelo Alvarez defends his Ring middleweight championship against Daniel Jacobs on May 4.
“I am heading to The Big Apple and I plan to embrace the culture and leave with an appetite for more,” said Joshua. “I will be fighting Jarrell Miller at the legendary Madison Square Garden. It has been an honour and a blessing to fight at some of the best venues in the world at home in the U.K., not least Wembley Stadium, but the time has come to head across the Atlantic and defend my heavyweight titles in the USA.
“I am looking forward to taking on another challenge with a good boxer and a brilliant talker; it will be an exciting fight. I will leave nothing to chance and plan on dismantling Miller in style to make my mark.”
Joshua follows in the footsteps of fighters like Joe Calzaghe and Ricky Hatton who reached massive appeal in the U.K. before they stepped foot in a boxing ring for a title fight. But unlike the aforementioned, Joshua will do so at a far earlier juncture. The last two fights of Calzaghe’s career were staged in the U.S., but none of the others were.
Hatton’s second, ninth and 20th bouts were held on the east coast, but that was well before he was an attraction. He didn’t return until he chased a title in a second weight division with a matchup against Luis Collazo in 2006.
Joshua is at the heights of his powers now. He routinely packs stadiums in the U.K., as he did for his September knockout of Alexander Povetkin, as well as his triumph over Wladimir Klitschko. All four of his most-recent fights were held in stadiums.
Now, he heads to the World’s Most Famous Arena to test himself against one of the rising stars of the division, a brash volume puncher who tips the scales at over 300 pounds.
Miller (23-0-1, 20 KOs) baited Joshua into the matchup in July when they met in New York for Matchroom’s unveiling of their U.S. based stable. The 30-year-old shouted obscenities and even insulted the champ’s mother. The trash talk will only continue now that the promotion is underway.
“AJ is making a huge mistake coming over here to fight me in my own backyard,” said Miller, The Ring’s No. 9 heavyweight. “He wants to announce himself on the American stage but all he’s doing is delivering me those belts by hand. Its dog eat dog in the ring and this dog has got a bigger bite, he’ll be leaving New York empty-handed.
“This is the fight that I’ve been chasing all my life and on June 1 I’m going to achieve the thing I was born to do and win the heavyweight championship of the world. That punk AJ is standing in the way of my dreams and on June 1 he’s getting run the hell over.”
Tickets for the event will be released Friday during a Madison Square Garden presale with all tickets released Tuesday via Ticketmaster
Mike Coppinger is the Senior Writer for RingTV.com. Follow him on Twitter: @MikeCoppinger