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WITH the April 13 bout at Wembley stadium falling by the wayside, instead expect unified WBO, WBA and IBF heavyweight champion Anthony Joshua to head to America to take on Jarrell “Big Baby” Miller at Madison Square Garden.
His promoter Eddie Hearn is at least enthusiastic about the proposition. “I thought it would come later but we’ve been put into a position where we feel like we can’t deliver the UK fans with the fight they want so we’re going to go and box an American in his backyard and just completely reinvent the profile of Anthony Joshua in the States over the period of camp and of course fight night,” Hearn said.
“There’s definitely promotional companies, networks getting together to try and stop things from happening. But that’s just chess and that happens all the time. The desire to see him fail is so rife within the sport, because I see it with Canelo as well. If it’s not Showtime, if it’s not [Al] Haymon, if it’s not Top Rank, they’re all desperate to see that guy fail, i.e. Canelo. In this instance it’s other broadcasters, it’s other promoters so it’s difficult because I feel that the offers that we’ve made, and when you speak to a sane individual they feel the same way pretty much, that the offers that we’ve made are fair and decent. AJ’s never been driven by money, money, money but at the same time, you can’t just respect a response like, ‘Just give him the money, give the other bloke the money’. That’s never worked in the sport, that never will work in the sport. So we have got to do something a little bit out of the ordinary, something a little bit left field which we look like we will be doing. But sometimes I sit down and go what a great move. We’re going to go and open up a completely different market. Once these Americans see Anthony Joshua in the ring and out of the ring, this guy going to be a massive, massive star over there.”
If Joshua is successful in the USA, the hope is that it will help set up a showdown with Deontay Wilder, the WBC titlist. “I pray that [Tyson] Fury doesn’t commit to a rematch [with Deontay Wilder] because he doesn’t have to in the purse bid. If he does that, he’s mad because it will kill the Joshua fight should he win,” Hearn said. “In that respect it’s better for us if Wilder wins the rematch [with Fury], especially if Joshua fights Miller in America in June. That starts making the $50m offer look like peanuts.
“AJ against Wilder last September might have done 300-400,000 buys in the States. Now it does over a million. Part of that is down to Wilder and we give him that respect, now it’s down to what we do over there to amplify that.
“I’m not sure it’s momentum [lost]. We were the stand out number one. There was no one even close, now he’s still the standout number one but there’s people kicking at his heels. That’s the difference really. I think there’s that element of the man on the street says ‘Joshua, you don’t want to fight Fury or Wilder’ but for us it’s not really about one fight. This is about his career and his legacy and what he’s going to do. He’s had 22 fights, he’s going to end up having 30 or 35 fights so watch to see what happens. If it means taking one interim bout outside of our comfort zone, to do something different and to grow Joshua then we’ll do that. The American move will be part of that strategy, which I didn’t feel would come now.
“But we’ve got to a stage where it now looks like the right thing to do, if we can get the deal over the line next few days, week and I’m very, very excited.”