By Jake Donovan
The hunt is officially on for a new opponent to face Anthony Joshua.
A June 1 date at New York City’s famed Madison Square Garden remains very much in play for the unbeaten, unified heavyweight titlist from England. The DAZN-streamed headliner will no longer come with Jarrell Miller standing opposite corner, however; the Brooklynite has been removed from the mix in the wake of a recent failed drug test which wasn’t met favorably by the presiding commission.
“The New York State Athletic Commission has denied Jarrell Miller’s professional boxing license application for a violation relating to use of a prohibited substance,” Mercedes Padilla, spokesperson for Department of State of New York informed BoxingScene.com.
Joshua (22-0, 21KOs) and promoter Eddie Hearn will now begin the process of finding a credible enough opponent to accept the assignment with less than seven weeks to prepare.
Miller (23-0-1, 20KOs) found himself in hot water after it was revealed that the “A” sample from a March 20 random drug test through Voluntary Anti-Doping Agency (VADA) showed an adverse finding of the banned substance GW1516.
According to a study conducted by bodybuilding publication Lift For The World, the drug is a “Peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor beta (PPAR) agonist which binds to those receptors. This means the activity in the gene is changed, causing a shift in how energy is put out.
“This translates into an ability to push harder and longer when it comes to endurance, without becoming winded. This can help you not just with cardio/running, but also in the weight room since you can push out another repetition and workout for longer without becoming tired.”
The matter was subject to an investigation by the New York State Athletic Commission (NYSAC), with whom Miller was required to renew his license in order to fight in June.
Miller’s previous fight in New York came last April, scoring a 12-round decision over France’s Johann Duhaupas in his Brooklyn home borough. Boxing licenses in the state of New York expire on September 30 of every year, in accordance with NYSAC rule §8910 License fees; term of licenses; renewals.
Having now been denied that opportunity, he is no longer eligible to fight on June 1, a show which Joshua and his team have remained adamant about keeping alive.
“There’s not anything else,” Hearn insisted, dismissing any suggestion of moving off of the current June 1 date. “We haven’t talked about a new date. We’ve sold over 17,000 tickets, we’ve got 10,000 Brits flying in.”
England’s Joshua will make the seventh defense of at least one major heavyweight title, with his reign dating back to a 2nd round knockout of Charles Martin in April ’16. The 2012 Olympic Gold medalist has fought exclusively in the United Kingdom since turning pro in 2013, becoming boxing’s largest current live gate attraction in the world.
Following a knockout win over Alexander Povetkin in front of a crowd of 80,000 at London’s Wembley Stadium last September, Joshua had designs on returning to the venue on April 13. However, an inability to secure an opponent along with the urging of the brass at DAZN led to the decision to make his U.S. debut, and with that, landing on Miller as an opponent given his lofty ranking, local (New York) popularity and flair for self-promotion.
It’s highly doubtful that the promotion will find any opponent with similar attributes. But with the event already approaching sold-out status at the box-office, the objective for now is simply to find any worthy opponent willing to accept assignment.
Meanwhile, Miller will still have to face the music not just simply for failing a drug test, but that it’s his second offense within the combat sports world. He previously tested positive for banned dietary supplement methylhexaneamine in June ‘14 during his time as a kickboxer, for which he was issued a $2,500 fine and a nine-month suspension by the California State Athletic Commission.
The suspension proved moot, as the event—a rematch with Mirko ‘Cro-Cop’ Filipovic—was his last as a kickboxer, nor did it even cause him to break stride in his boxing career.
Having not fought since a 4th round knockout win over Bogdan Dinu last November, it’s safe to say he won’t be afforded the same luxury this time around.
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox