Matchroom Boxing promoter Eddie Hearn has made an offer to heavyweight contender Jarrell “Big Baby” Miller to challenge unified world titleholder Anthony Joshua in June, Miller co-promoter Greg Cohen told ESPN on Monday.
Cohen said the offer is for Brooklyn, New York’s Miller to face Joshua on June 1 or June 8 at Madison Square Garden in New York in a fight that would stream on DAZN in the United States. It would mark the U.S. debut for Joshua, who is a megastar in his home country of the United Kingdom.
“Eddie has made an offer and we’ll see what happens,” Cohen said. “Obviously, for every fighter, promoter and manager what’s better than fighting for the heavyweight championship of the world? We’ve been discussing it for a while but now we have an official offer.”
Cohen said the first offer came about a week ago but that the sides have made a lot of progress and are much closer to a deal.
“There has been substantial movement on the money and we’re under a million dollars apart at his point,” said Cohen, who co-promotes Miller with Dmitry Salita.
Cohen said they have not yet worked out language for a rematch clause, which Joshua would have in the event he lost the optional defense, or the particulars on options that Matchroom Boxing would receive on future Miller fights. But Cohen, Salita and Hearn have a good relationship as Hearn has worked with them to put Miller’s past four bouts on Matchroom Boxing cards.
“Fighting for the title against Joshua is everybody’s goal but the economics have to make sense,” Cohen said. “I’m hopeful we can get there. We’re not there yet. But everybody is negotiating in good faith. There has been progress, but we just have to see if we can get there. I certainly would love to see Jarrell fight for the title against Joshua. It’s Madison Square Garden. It would be in Jarrell’s hometown. What’s better than that?”
Hearn did not respond to messages seeking comment on the offer, which Ring magazine first reported, citing only sources.
If the deal is not finalized, Miller (23-0-1, 20 KOs), 30, could wind up as one of Joshua’s mandatory challengers since he is one of four fighters tabbed for a box-off ordered by the WBA to determine its secondary titlist (and Joshua’s mandatory challenger). The others are secondary titlist Manuel Charr, Fres Oquendo and interim titlist Trevor Bryan, whom Miller would probably face in the semifinals of the box-off if the Joshua fight does not come to fruition.
There are advantages to being a mandatory challenger, such as a minimum percentage of the money should the fight go to a purse bid, Cohen pointed out.
“It’s not just the economic we’re working out for this fight,” Cohen said. “There’s the rematch if Jarrell wins. When you’re an elective (defense) there are other components you have to deal with that you don’t have to deal with if you’re the mandatory. But if Joshua wants to come to America, and it’s unlikely he can get a fight with (titleholder) Deontay Wilder because it looks like he’s going to do the rematch with Tyson Fury, then I don’t think there’s another option for him other than Jarrell Miller. He’s the best option by far, especially if he’s going to fight in New York.”
Joshua has never shown any serious desire to fight in the United States, but those close to him believe he began to warm to the idea when he joined Hearn in New York in mid-December when Hearn was co-promoting a fight between his fighter, Rocky Fielding, and Canelo Alvarez.
Alvarez knocked out Fielding in the third round to win a secondary super middleweight world title on Dec. 15 at Madison Square Garden, where there was a wild crowd of 20,112 on hand. Joshua (22-0, 21 KOs), 29, was ringside and clearly enjoyed the electric atmosphere. If Joshua fights at Madison Square Garden he can expect a similar atmosphere because thousands of his British fans would undoubtedly make the trip to the U.S. for the fight.
Joshua has had an April 13 date penciled in for a fight at Wembley Stadium in London, where he has drawn as many as 90,000 for his 11th-round knockout of former longtime unified world champion Wladimir Klitschko in the 2017 fight of the year.
The leading candidate for the April 13 date is contender Dillian Whyte (25-1, 18 KOs), 30, of England, but Hearn has had issues closing a deal with him. Joshua stopped Whyte in the seventh round in 2015 in the bout before winning a world title in April 2016.
While Joshua has made six successful title defenses and unified three belts, Whyte has won nine fights in a row since the loss, including against multiple quality opponents, to put himself in position for a rematch.
“It’s either they’re going to go on April 13 at Wembley against Dillian Whyte or they’re making a deal with us for June in New York. That’s how I see it,” Cohen said. “They have the champion. I am sure Dillian Whyte has a price he’s willing to accept. If they want Jarrell they’ll go with him. We can sit back and see what happens.
“Jarrell can win this fight. There aren’t too many guys who can say that. Jarrell has always wanted this fight. He has a manager, two co-promoters and he is letting us do our job, but Jarrell wants this fight for sure. He says he’s going to smash him.”