Anthony Joshua to make U.S. debut against Jarrell Miller

Boxing


Unified heavyweight world titleholder Anthony Joshua and top contender Jarrell “Big Baby” Miller will meet on June 1 at Madison Square Garden after their promoters came to terms, multiple sources with knowledge of the specifics told ESPN on Friday.

The fight, which will stream on DAZN in the United States, is not yet finalized. But there are no material issues holding things up and the paperwork is expected to be signed at any time, a source said, with an official announcement of the bout coming as soon as Monday.

Joshua promoter Eddie Hearn of Matchroom Boxing, which has a long-term deal with DAZN, and Miller’s co-promoters, Greg Cohen and Dmitry Salita, have been working for the past few weeks on the fight that will mark the United States debut of Joshua.

He has never boxed outside of his home country of the United Kingdom, where he is a superstar and has regularly drawn sold-out crowds to stadiums, including a British-record 90,000 at Wembley Stadium in London for his 11th-round knockout of Wladimir Klitschko in the fight of the year in 2017.

Joshua (22-0, 21 KOs), 29, the 2012 Olympic super heavyweight gold medalist, will be facing the Brooklyn, New York-born Miller in his hometown as he makes his seventh title defense. Joshua is coming off a devastating seventh-round knockout of longtime contender Alexander Povetkin on Sept. 22.

Miller (23-0-1, 20 KOs), 30, whose last four fights have been on Hearn-promoted cards, has steadily worked his way up the ladder and emerged as one of the top contenders in the division over the past couple of years. Four of his last five victories have come against former heavyweight world title challengers, including knockouts of Gerald Washington, Mariusz Wach, and Tomasz Adamek, and a one-sided decision over Johann Duhaupas. In his last fight, Miller knocked out then-undefeated Bogdan Dinu in the fourth round on Nov. 17.

Joshua’s next fight was supposed to take place on April 13 at Wembley Stadium, with British rival Dillian Whyte (25-1, 18 KOs) the expected opponent.

But Hearn had issues closing a deal with Whyte, and Joshua also came around to the idea of boxing in the United States. He had never shown much interest in leaving his home country — where he generates tens of millions of dollars for every fight. But there are those close to him who believe he began to warm to the idea when he joined Hearn in New York in mid-December, as Hearn co-promoted 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 was ringside and clearly enjoyed the electric atmosphere. He knows he can expect a similar atmosphere because thousands of his British fans would likely make the trip to New York for the fight.

DAZN is putting up millions to bring Joshua to the United States for the fight. Joshua’s fight with Povetkin kicked off DAZN’s entry into the streaming field in September. But with the fight taking place in the U.K., it was a late afternoon start in the United States.

By having Joshua fight a top challenger on a Saturday night in the U.S., DAZN executives hope to bring in more subscribers one month after Alvarez, who signed a record $365 million deal with the service late last year, will face Daniel Jacobs in a major middleweight world title unification fight on May 4 at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas.

New York will be the heart of heavyweight boxing this spring and early summer with Joshua-Miller taking place at Madison Square Garden and the expected rematch between titleholder Deontay Wilder and lineal champion Tyson Fury likely to take place in April or May at Barclays Center in Brooklyn.



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