Eddie Hearn: “We’re looking strongly at Jarrell Miller for Joshua’s debut”
By Scott Gilfoid: Eddie Hearn says unbeaten American heavyweight Jarrell ‘Big Baby’ Miller is the likely next opponent for Matchroom Boxing heavyweight champion Anthony Joshua for his U.S debut later this year instead of WBC champion Deontay ‘Bronze Bomber’ Wilder.
This is an abrupt about face for the wily promoter Hearn, as he said earlier this week that there’s a “80 percent” chance that Deontay would be the next opponent for Joshua to fight if he gets past WBO heavyweight champion Joseph Parker on March 31 in Cardiff, Wales. It looks like something has put Hearn off the idea of putting the 28-year-old Joshua in with Wilder in his summer fight in the U.S. Hearn is now eager to make the Joshua-Miller fight.
“Daniel Jacobs, who I feel is the best middleweight on the planet right now, has got a very tough fight,” Hearn said to Fighthub about Jacobs’ April 28t fight against Maciej Sulecki. ”Jarrell Miller is someone we’re looking at strongly for Anthony Joshua’s debut in the U.S later this year,” Hearn said.
Hearn to have Joshua duck Wilder to fight Miller is not going to go over well with American boxing fans. If Hearn stages the Joshua-Miller fight in the States, Joshua might be booed out of the Arena by the boxing fans. The fans want to see Joshua fight Wilder, not one of Hearn’s fighters in ‘Big Baby’ Miller. This is not an acceptable move by Hearn. Miller is more of an unproven prospect than a true contender. If Miller had fought some of the top contender and beaten them like Alexander Povetkin and Kubrat Pulev, then it wouldn’t look so bad that Hearn is interested in matching him against Joshua next. Miller has been padding his record against the likes of Mariusz Wach, Fred Kassi, Gerald Washington, Nick Guivas and Donovan Dennis.
So, there it is. Hearn now saying he wants to match Joshua against the 29-year-old Miller next. Miller has a fight next month against former heavyweight Johann Duhaupas (37-4, 24 KOs) on April 28 at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York. The fight will be televised by HBO Boxing, who recently signed the New Yorker Miller to a short-term deal with their network. They also signed former IBF middleweight champion Daniel Jacobs to a short-term deal. Hearn now promotes Jacobs, and he seems to have a co-promotional deal with Miller, which would explain his high interest in making the Joshua-Miller fight.
Hearn electing to match Joshua against Miller instead of Wilder looks like a duck job to me. I hate to say it, but it sure looks like Hearn is steering his golden goose Joshua around Wilder. The 6’4”, 300 lb. Miller is a good heavyweight, but he’s not in the class of Deontay. He’s slow and he’s beatable for a fighter like Joshua. Hearn is making Joshua look bad with the way he’s postponing the Wilder fight. I wouldn’t be surprised that by the time the Joshua-Wilder fight does take place, Hearn will have signed Wilder to a promotional contract in the same way he signed Amir Khan to make a fight between him and Matchroom Boxing fighter Kell Brook.
Hearn saying that Miller is the opponent that he’s looking to match Joshua with next could be his way of letting the 6’7” Wilder (40-0, 39 KOs) know that they have other options for AJ’s next fight. Hearn constantly mentioning Miller’s name as a possible next opponent might be his way of warning Team Wilder that they have another option in case he asks for too much money. The problem is that when Hearn keeps talking about Joshua fighting other guys like Miller, it makes him look like he’s protecting his cash cow. It looks bad in the eyes of the boxing public, because Hearn has already been steering Joshua around Wilder since 2015. That fight should have been made three years ago. In the last 3 years, Hearn has matched Joshua against Dillian Whyte, Eric Molina, Dominic Breazeale, Charles Martin, Wladimir Klitschko and Carlos Takam. The only good fighter out of the bunch was Wladimir, and he almost beat Joshua. In fact, Wladimir would have beaten Joshua if he’d used some common sense and finished him off after he was badly hurt and gassed out in rounds 5 through 9 in their fight in April 2017.
Hearn is making a mistake in overlooking the threat Joseph Parker (24-0, 18 KOs) poses to the 6’5” Joshua. Parker, 26, has more than enough punching power, speed and youth to defeat Joshua on March 31. Parker could wreck Hearn’s promotional dream of matching Joshua against Miller.
Joshua vs. Miller will obviously sell on Sky Box Office in the UK, but there won’t be much interest from the U.S boxing fans in a fight of that type. It’s Wilder that the fans want to see Joshua fight. Miller is not on the same level. He’s also with HBO. How does a fight between him and Joshua workout with him being signed with Showtime in the states?
If Hearn decides to match Joshua against all his Matchroom Boxing stable heavyweights, it could be a while before he makes the fight with Wilder. Miller and Dillian Whyte are both with Hearn. It could take a while for Joshua to get done fighting those two guys if that’s what Hearn plans on doing.
With this news from Hearn, Wilder should start looking at his next title defense of his WBC belt. He did a fantastic job of defeating arguably the second-best heavyweight in the division in Luis ‘King Kong’ Ortiz by a 10th round knockout on March 3 at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York.
A lot of people were giving Ortiz a real chance of beating Wilder. It didn’t work out well for Ortiz once Wilder got his offense running at full speed in the 10th round. Ortiz fell apart immediately from the big right-hand bombs Wilder was bouncing off his chin. For Wilder’s next title defense, he needs to look in the direction of someone like 2012 U.S Olympian Dominic Breazeale. A fight between Wilder and Breazeale would interest the U.S boxing fans. Breazeale obviously isn’t Joshua, but the American fans would still love that fight. If Wilder can’t get Joshua’s promoter Hearn to make the Wilder-Joshua fight, then Breazeale would be a good substitute.