The Ring broke the news last week that Anthony Joshua and Jarrell Miller reached an agreement in principle for a heavyweight championship fight that would take place at Madison Square Garden in New York.
Both June 1 and June 8 were under consideration, but the fight is now locked in for the first day of the month, according to industry sources, and an official announcement could come as soon as Monday.
The fight will serve as Joshua’s U.S. debut as he seeks, at 29, to become a star statside, too. The Ring’s No. 1 heavyweight is already a major attraction across Europe and particularly in the U.K., where he routinely draws over 80,000 fans. His seventh-round KO of Alexander Povetkin in September packed Wembley Stadium. Joshua (22-0, 21 knockouts) was scheduled to return to the London venue for a fight on April 13, but those plans were scrapped.
Wembley officials were only interested in Joshua fighting Deontay Wilder, Tyson Fury or Dillian Whyte, according to sources. Wilder and Fury are headed toward a rematch in the spring. Eddie Hearn, who promotes Joshua, negotiated with Whyte, but a deal didn’t come together.
DAZN executive chairman John Skipper has lobbied aggressively for Joshua to make his U.S. debut, and the fight with Miller is a coup for the fledgling platform.
Joshua-Povetkin was streamed on DAZN, but not in prime time since it originated from England. This time, DAZN will be able to boast that they’re streaming a fight with the heavyweight champion in prime time, and they hope it will attract more subscribers.
Joshua-Miller gives DAZN a signature event in as many months on the heels of the scheduled May 4 fight between Ring middleweight champion Canelo Alvarez and Daniel Jacobs.
Joshua and Miller have history, too. They engaged in a war of words in July at DAZN’s initial news conference to unveil Matchroom Boxing’s U.S.-based programming. Miller screamed obscenities at Joshua and even insulted his mother.
“He’s a punk,” Miller (23-0-1, 20 KOs) told Sporting News last summer. “He doesn’t want to say my name. He’s a p—y. He’s not a world champion. He just has a belt. He don’t want to fight in America. He wants to stay in England, drink his protein shakes and be happy. He doesn’t want to come to the States. He don’t want to fight anybody who got heart.”
Miller, The Ring’s No. 9 heavyweight, is getting his wish and in his hometown no less. The 30-year-old competed twice on DAZN, knockout victories in October and November. The former kickboxer will step way up in competition for his first crack at a title.
“He needs to watch his mouth,” Joshua said. “Miller is not cut from the same cloth as me, so he should watch how he talks.”
Mike Coppinger is the Senior Writer for RingTV.com. Follow him on Twitter: @MikeCoppinger
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