Jake Donovan

Anthony Joshua remains on the hunt and against a ticking clock for his next in-ring challenge, a fact not lost on the leading candidate to land such an assignment.

As reported last month by BoxingScene.com senior writer Keith Idec, unbeaten heavyweight contender Jarrell Miller (23-0-1, 20KOs) has emerged as the frontrunner to land a crack at Joshua for the undefeated Brit’s unified heavyweight titles. Such a fight would take place in early June at Madison Square Garden in New York City, serving as Joshua’s stateside debut.

RingTV.com senior writer Mike Coppinger recently broke the news of a formal offer being made by Joshua’s promoter Eddie Hearn to Miller and his co-promoters Greg Cohen and Dmitriy Salita. The development only adds to the approaching reality of a months-long hold on London’s Wembley Stadium for an April 13 date looking less likely by the day, especially with the other top candidate, Dillian Whyte currently shopping other offers and networks.

Joshua and Miller are currently aligned with sports streaming service DAZN, for which Hearn serves as the primary boxing content provider. 

There remains a chance that Joshua could still go through with the date, but not as much a U.S. invasion now serving as the more likely scenario. Whereas a fight with Joshua represents the most lucrative option for any current heavyweight today, it doesn’t represent Miller’s only option.

“Dmitry and I are working on the Joshua fight for Jarrell,” Greg Cohen confirmed to  BoxingScene.com. “We still have a long way to go and maybe it happens, maybe it doesn’t.”

The laissez-faire approach stems from other business being entertained by Miller and his handlers. The unbeaten 30-year old is part of a four-man heavyweight tournament ordered by the World Boxing Association (WBA)—whose “Super” version of the heavyweight title Joshua currently owns, but whose remaining slew of belts requires consolidation.

Miller’s part in such a tournament calls for a showdown with fellow unbeaten heavyweight and current interim titlist Trevor Bryan (20-0, 14KOs). The winner of such a bout would go on to face whomever prevails in the oft-postponed WBA “Regular” title fight between Manuel Charr (31-4, 17KOs) and Fres Oquendo (37-8, 24KOs).

Whomever runs the tables among those fights would be in a favorable position to not only challenge Joshua (22-0, 21KOs)—assuming he’s still the WBA “Super” champ at that point—but drive up the asking price, as such an ordered fight could eventually wind up being subject to a purse bid.

That said, the WBA has for years attempted to clean up the mess it has created in the heavyweight division (and several other weight classes as well). This is at least the second time a tournament has been ordered by the sanctioning body, with the previous set barely getting off the ground and never even reaching the semifinals round.

With boxing being a business in general, Miller’s handlers know better than to overplay their hand and are in fact seriously entertaining the offer to face Joshua. Unlike the defending titlist, however, time is currently on their side.

“We are focusing our efforts on the WBA mandated World title fight versus Trevor Bryan,” Cohen notes. “The purse bid is scheduled for February 13th and we plan on winning the bid.”

Miller wrapped up his 2018 campaign with a pair of quick knockout wins over Tomasz Adamek in October and previously unbeaten Bogdan Dinu last November. Both bouts streamed live on DAZN USA, as did Joshua’s last ring appearance, a 7th round knockout of Alexander Povetkin to officially launch the stateside leg of the platform last September.

Joshua—a Gold medalist for Great Britain during the 2012 London Olympics—has never gone more than six months between fights since turning pro in 2013. The six months between stoppage wins over Wladimir Klitshcko (April ’17) and Carlos Takam (Oct. ’17) will be surpassed regardless of whether the 29-year old stays home for an April fight or heads to the U.S. for a June showdown, be it Miller or any other available heavyweight contender.