By Jake Donovan
Rumors of Anthony Joshua abandoning his April 13 date in London in favor of a U.S. debut in June have become a reality.
His long-rumored showdown with Jarrell Miller is rapidly heading in that direction as well, although not yet quite final.
Talks have progressed between the pair of unbeaten heavyweights to collide in early June at Madison Square Garden, Miller’s handlers have informed BoxingScene.com. However, there still remains enough unresolved details to not yet consider it a done deal.
“It’s moving forward in a very productive way,” Dmitriy Salita, Miller’s co-promoter (along with Greg Cohen) told BoxingScene.com on Friday. “But it’s not a done deal.”
Miller (23-0-1, 20KOs) emerged as a frontrunner early in the new year to land a coveted assignment with the unbeaten, unified heavyweight titlist from England once there reached a greater likelihood of Joshua (22-0, 21KOs) next fighting in the U.S. instead of London.
Joshua’s promoter Eddie Hearn placed a hold months ago on London’s Wembley Stadium for an April 13 headliner against a top contender or a fellow champion. The date was heavily marketed even leading into his last ring appearance, rallying to knock out Alexander Povetkin in seven rounds last September at Wembley.
For months, the top three desired targets were unbeaten titlist Deontay Wilder, undefeated lineal champion Tyson Fury or highly-rated contender Dillian Whyte.
Wilder and Fury would face each other in December, fighting to a 12-round draw. The unbeaten heavyweights continue to inch closer to finalizing terms for a May 18 rematch at Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York, as first reported by BoxingScene.com’s Keith Idec.
That basically left Whyte as Joshua’s lone remaining sensible option in order to keep the April 13 date at London’s famed venue, where he has put upwards of 170,000 fans in attendance for his past two appearances.
However, three separate offers made to Whyte—whom Joshua beat in a Dec. ’15 clash when both were unbeaten prospects—were reviewed but never accepted. The extended delays prompted Hearn to proceed with Plan B, which was to relinquish the April 13 date and instead concentrate on Joshua making his stateside debut.
As much was strongly suggested by England’s leading promoter during a January 18 DAZN livestream event from MSG’s Hulu Theatre, topped by Demetrius Andrade’s 12th round stoppage of Russia’s Artur Akavov. From that point, the most logical candidate to face Joshua in MSG’s main room was Miller, who hails from nearby Brooklyn.
Hearn presented Cohen and Salita with a formal offer earlier this month, as first reported by RingTV.com’s Mike Coppinger who also reported on Friday that the two sides had agreed to terms for a June showdown.
Miller became part of Hearn’s DAZN family—through a deal reached by Cohen and Salita, but not signing him over to Hearn’s Matchroom Boxing USA company—last fall, appearing on the streaming platform’s first live stateside show last October. The 30-year old heavyweight’s appearance was brief, scoring a 2nd round knockout of faded former cruiserweight Tomasz Adamek.
The win was rewarded with a quick turnaround, returning to the ring six weeks later in headlining a mid-November DAZN show. Miller handled previously unbeaten Bogdan Dinu, putting him away in four rounds. Hopes for at least one more fight in the ensuing months never progressed past talks, as he’s instead weighed multiple options for a next big fight.
Miller was named by the World Boxing Association as part of an ordered four-man tournament in order to consolidate its many heavyweight titles. His role in such a set would come in the form of a showdown with unbeaten interim tltlsit Trevor Bryan, with the bout due to head to a February 13 purse bid.
It seems less and less likely that Miller will remain a part of that tournament, although it remains an option at least until ongoing talks with Joshua are 100% finalized.
“Jarrell Miller versus Anthony Joshua is one of the biggest fights in boxing, whenever it happens,” insists Salita. “But it’s not a done deal.
“Close (to done) and far (apart) are basically the same thing in these kinds of situations. There is no deal until it is signed, sealed and announced.”