By Keith Idec
NEW YORK – If Jarrell Miller can pass his next test, promoter Eddie Hearn plans to give the brash Brooklyn heavyweight the fight he really wants.
Hearn told BoxingScene.com before a press conference Tuesday that if Miller (20-0-1, 18 KOs) defeats France’s Johann Duhaupas (37-4, 24 KOs) on April 28 at Barclays Center in Brooklyn, he’ll get a shot at heavyweight champion Anthony Joshua in his following fight. Hearn, Joshua’s promoter, called Miller-Duhaupas “a 50-50-fight” and stressed that neither he nor Joshua (20-0, 20 KOs) are underestimating Joseph Parker (24-0, 18 KOs) ahead of the Joshua-Parker heavyweight title unification match March 31 in Cardiff, Wales.
Nevertheless, Hearn has a plan to bring England’s Joshua to Barclays Center for his debut on American soil against Miller sometime in August. Russia’s Alexander Povetkin (33-1, 23 KOs) is the mandatory challenger for Joshua’ WBA title and will battle England’s David Price on Joshua-Parker undercard, but Hearn indicated Tuesday that a Joshua-Miller match at Barclays Center would come first.
“He’s the guy,” Hearn said of Miller. “When you look at the promotion and an American to fight in [his] backyard, Jarrell Miller is absolutely spot on. But I think him against Duhaupas is a complete 50-50 [fight], in terms of his recent performances. I didn’t think [Miller] was at his best against [Mariusz] Wach [on November 11]. But at the same time, it’s hard to look great against Wach. And he stopped Wach as well, so that was an impressive victory.
“But this is the fight, for me, where I think Jarrell Miller really stakes his claim to challenge for the world heavyweight title. And while Deontay Wilder continues to live at a street address on ‘Fantasy Island,’ this [Joshua-Miller] is the fight that we will look to make in August. And I’m already in talks with [the Barclays Center’s] Brett Yormark, that all being well on March 31st, New York is the venue for Anthony Joshua’s next fight. If that’s not against Deontay Wilder, Jarrell Miller will be the guy if he can get the win against Duhapuas. That’s the plan. And again, we have to win on March 31st. And AJ’s not even thinking about August. It’s not like we’re overlooking Parker. It’s my job to plan the future, and the future is a fight in America in 2018.”
A full title unification bout between Joshua, who owns the IBF, IBO and WBA titles, and Wilder, the WBC champion, is the most anticipated fight in the heavyweight division. That high-profile fight will be complicated to make, though, thus Hearn doesn’t consider it a realistic option for Joshua’s fight after he opposes Parker.
“Like I said, if it’s not Deontay Wilder, which I can’t see that fight happening anytime immediately, Jarrell is the guy,” Hearn said. “For Anthony Joshua to come to Brooklyn, and fight a kid out of Brooklyn for the world heavyweight title, that’s a big fight. But we need the excuse from Jarrell for people to say, ‘That’s a good fight.’ And that will come with a dominant victory against Duhaupas, if he can get it. … I think it’s a very tough fight for Jarrell Miller. But if he can look good and he can win, I’m ready to give him a shot.”
HBO will televise Miller-Duhaupas as the opener of a “World Championship Boxing” doubleheader April 28. In the main event, Daniel Jacobs (33-2, 29 KOs), a former WBA middleweight champ from Brooklyn, will oppose Poland’s Maciej Sulecki (26-0, 10 KOs) in a 12-rounder.
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.