It’s Jarrell ‘Big Baby’ Miller time
By Gav Duthie: The rumors have been confirmed that Jarrell ‘Big Baby’ Miller 23-0-1 (20) will get his title shot on June 1st at Madison Square Garden, New York against Anthony Joshua. It’s not the most exciting fight of all time but I’d like to defend AJ and Eddie Hearn on this one and say it was the best choice they could have made. The fight ticks a lot of boxes in terms of Hearn’s promotional agenda, his obligations to DAZN and most importantly Anthony Joshua.
Once again lots of fans will be upset that Joshua isn’t fighting Deontay Wilder or Tyson Fury but making these fights was always a long shot. Fans in America are now saying Wilder and Fury are #1 and #2 and that Hearn is protecting Joshua. No decision made was going to be welcomed but given the circumstances Miller was always going to be the best choice and I will explain why.
Wilder and Fury have each other
For now at least Deontay Wilder and Tyson Fury don’t need Anthony Joshua. The announcement after the 12th round that their fight was a draw was the worst result for Anthony Joshua. After that a rematch was bound to be the most logical choice. The rematch between these two is bound to be worth more financially than the first match given the quality of the fight and the cult following it received. The build up to the contest was worrying. The Staples Center didn’t sell out its 21,500 capacity and being Deontay Wilder’s first American pay-per-view there was a worry it wouldn’t do big numbers. Given Wilder was guaranteed $4 million and Fury $3 million it was important people bought into the fight. Eddie Hearn had said that if the fight didn’t do well the winner would actually be in an even weaker position negotiating to fight AJ. In the end it did okay. There were about 300,000 buys at $80 a piece generating $24 million not including UK pay per view sales. Nobody got rich but neither did any investors get egg on their face. It was on the low end of the scale for PPV but also perfectly acceptable. Given the drama of the first fight including the skill of Fury, the power of Wilder and Tyson getting up from seemingly being knocked out cold it got a lot of people talking. Deontay obviously feels obligated to give Fury another shot as well given the circumstances and the rematch will do much better numbers. For Joshua, this all meant that his team would have to make serious concessions to entice Wilder or Fury to fight.
The feeling on AJ
Anthony Joshua is still arguably the biggest star in boxing but his reputation has taken a hit recently. Some fans believe rightly or wrongly that he is ducking Deontay Wilder. Anthony Joshua has fought in a stadium against Wladimir Klitschko, Carlos Takam, Joseph Parker and Alexander Povetkin. Povetkin is the only fight that didn’t sell out but still 73,000 watched the fight live. I think seeing that so many fans have seen him in a stadium now it would be difficult to sell a fight in a stadium again against the likes of Kubrat Pulev, Jarrell Miller or even domestic rival Dillian Whyte. Fans want AJ to fight Wilder or Fury and aren’t interested in much else. Because Eddie couldn’t deliver this it makes sense for Joshua to make his American debut.
Given Wilder and Fury should face each other the main options were Jarrell Miller in New York with Dillian Whyte or Kubrat Pulev in London.
When Pulev defeated Hughie Fury in Sofia, Bulgaria he once again became the mandatory challenger for Joshua’s IBF title. This means that if AJ wants to keep his belt he must fight the Bulgarian at some point this year. The IBF had stated that Joshua could fight who he wants right now but would be mandated to fight Pulev after his next fight. So fans who think that Joshua will beat Miller and then fight the Fury and Wilder winner they may be mistaken. There will be a lot of anger once again if Joshua fights Pulev instead of Wilder or Fury so it might have been an idea to get this one out of the way.
Why it was right not to do it:
Pulev is a fight you only take when you have to. As a boxing purist I’m a fan of Pulev but for the casual fans, he brings nothing to the table. I don’t think this will be at Wembley Stadium or the Principality Stadium. If it has to happen it has to happen but at least Hearn will have the excuse that Joshua doesn’t have a choice.
If any boxer in the world deserves a title shot heavyweight or otherwise its Dillian Whyte. Since his 2015 loss to Anthony Joshua he has been the most active and arguably most successful heavyweight in the division. With 5 wins in arguably 50/50 fights against Dereck Chisora x 2, Robert Helenius, Lucas Browne and Joseph Parker. He gave Joshua one of his toughest fights and has worked his way to a rematch.
Why it was right not to do it:
Its been done before. Whyte might deserve it and Hearn probably owes it to him given the fact he has given Matchroom PPV fights and sold out the 02. At the end of the day though the fans aren’t really that bothered. Whyte did well in the first contest but it was a pretty conclusive win for Joshua. Whyte has definitely improved but the public just isn’t demanding the fight should happen. Fighting Whyte just feels like going over old ground.
Fight ‘Big Baby’ Miller is not about fighting the man himself its about the opportunity for Joshua in America. Miller will play his part. He’s an undefeated fighter with good character and a big mouth. He will sell the fight and will give it a go. He only knows how to walk forward and he will try to knock Joshua out. It should be a simple night’s work for Joshua though. It will announce him to the public in America. The United States is still a sleeping giant when it comes to boxing and Joshua needs to make his presence felt over there. For the Wilder fight to be as big as it can be it makes sense to have Joshua fight in New York at Madison Square Garden and let America see him.
What I think will happen
Joshua should knock Miller out, but given the fact that this fight is happening in June, AJ will only fight one more time this year and that will probably be against Kubrat Pulev. The winner of Wilder and Fury (if it happens) is quite likely to face the winner of Whyte v Dominic Breazeale (If it happens). This would suggest that to he dismay of fight fans we are unlikely to see Joshua fight Wilder or Fury until 2020. By this time either fight should be huge and will cement Joshua’s legacy but until it happens he will get his fair share of criticism.