Anthony Joshua to make U.S. debut, defend title against Jarrell 'Big Baby' Miller on June 1 at MSG

Combat columnist
Yahoo Sports
Heavyweight champion Anthony Joshua will make his U.S. debut on June 1 when he defends his title in New York against Jarrell “Big Baby” Miller. (Getty Images)
Heavyweight champion Anthony Joshua will make his U.S. debut on June 1 when he defends his title in New York against Jarrell “Big Baby” Miller. (Getty Images)

Heavyweight champion Anthony Joshua will make his U.S. debut on June 1 at Madison Square Garden in New York, when he puts his perfect record on the line against unbeaten Jarrell “Big Baby” Miller of Brooklyn in a bout that will be streamed live in the U.S. on DAZN.

Promoter Eddie Hearn turned to Miller after he was unable to reach a deal for a rematch between Joshua and Dillian Whyte.

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Miller will represent Joshua’s sixth unbeaten opponent since 2015. Miller’s only blemish in a 23-0-1 record with 20 knockouts is a 2013 draw against Joey Dawejko in a four-rounder. Joshua, the 2012 Olympic super heavyweight gold medalist who holds the IBF-WBA-WBO heavyweight belts, is 22-0 with 21 knockouts.

That makes the fighters a combined 45-0-1 with 41 knockouts.

“[On] June 1, I am heading to ‘The Big Apple’ and I plan to embrace the culture and leave with an appetite for more,” Joshua said. “I will be fighting Jarrell Miller at the legendary Madison Square Garden. It has been an honor and a blessing to fight at some of the best venues in the world at home in the UK, 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.”

Miller is an offensive tackle-sized heavyweight who has surprising athleticism for a man his size. He is 6-feet-4 and in his last bout, a one-sided fourth-round knockout of Bogdan Dinu on Nov. 17 in Mulvane, Kansas, Miller weighed 315.25 pounds.

The 29-year-old Joshua is 6-6 and generally fights in the mid-240s, so Miller will likely have more than a 60-pound weight advantage. The last time Miller weighed under 290 was on Nov. 11, 2017, when he defeated Mariusz Wach while weighing 283.25, which is 39.25 pounds more than Joshua’s career high of 254.

Miller, who figures to be a huge underdog, insists he’ll put on a show.

Brooklyn’s Jarrell “Big Baby” Miller will challenge for the IBF-WBA-WBO heavyweight title on June 1 when he faces Anthony Joshua at Madison Square Garden in a fight streamed on DAZN. (Getty Images)
Brooklyn’s Jarrell “Big Baby” Miller will challenge for the IBF-WBA-WBO heavyweight title on June 1 when he faces Anthony Joshua at Madison Square Garden in a fight streamed on DAZN. (Getty Images)

“AJ is making a huge mistake coming over here to fight me in my own backyard,” Miller said “He wants to announce himself on the American stage, but all he’s doing is delivering me those belts by hand. It’s 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.”

The bout figures to be one of two major heavyweight bouts in the U.S. in the first half of 2019. Talks are progressing for a rematch between WBC heavyweight champion Deontay Wilder and linear champion Tyson Fury, who fought to a draw in December in Los Angeles.

Fans for years have clamored for a Joshua-Wilder fight, and a Joshua-Fury fight would be massive in the U.K. If Joshua defeats Miller, he’d keep alive one of those bouts in the near term.

Joshua is one of the most popular fighters in the world and has drawn crowds in excess of 80,000 in the U.K. Bringing him to fight for the first time in the U.S. will increase his name recognition here and make him into more of a global superstar. It will also help build a potential unification bout with the Wilder-Fury winner.

“AJ has created an incredible ‘Lion’s Den’ atmosphere in the UK and we plan to bring that energy to New York on a card that will be stacked with British versus American talent,” said promoter Eddie Hearn, the 2018 Yahoo Sports Man of the Year in boxing. “When you look at the heavyweight greats that have graced the renowned ‘Mecca of Boxing,’ the names of [Muhammad] Ali, [Joe] Frazier, [Rocky] Marciano and [Mike] Tyson stand firm and June 1 will be a moment when the world will witness AJ’s turn.”

The bout will cap a huge late spring for DAZN, which on May 4 in Las Vegas will stream the middleweight title unification bout between Canelo Alvarez and Daniel Jacobs.

The Joshua-Miller bout is a significant one as well for Miller promoter Dmitriy Salita, a former fighter who on Tuesday closed what is arguably the biggest women’s match in history when he made the middleweight unification bout between two-time Olympic gold medalist Claressa Shields and Christina Hammer.

Salita said he promised Miller years ago he’d get him this kind of bout and on Wednesday, he delivered on his word.

“On June 1 Brooklyn’s Jarrell Miller will fight in the world’s greatest city for boxing’s greatest title … ,” Salita said. “On June 1, Jarrell follow in the footsteps of Brooklyn heavyweight greats Mike Tyson and Riddick Bowe to bring the heavyweight world title back to its rightful home, New York.”

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