Anthony Joshua is finally coming across the pond, as the British heavyweight world champion will defend his unified title against Jarrell “Big Baby” Miller on June 1 at Madison Square Garden in New York City.
While Joshua is a major star in the United Kingdom, he has never before fought outside of his home country.
British Superstar Coming to America
That has included fighting in front of 90,000 people in Wembley Stadium in 2017, when he beat Wladimir Klitschko via 11th-round knockout in the 2017 fight of the year.
“It has been an honor and a blessing to fight at some of the best venues in the world at home in the UK, not least Wembley Stadium,” Joshua said in a statement. “But the time has come to head across the Atlantic and defend my heavyweight titles in the USA. I am looking forward to taking on another challenge with a good boxer and a brilliant talker.”
Joshua (22-0, 21 KOs) has chosen a game opponent in Miller (23-0-1, 20 KOs), who has built a resume that makes him one of the top contenders in the heavyweight division. In his last five fights, he has defeated four former challengers for the heavyweight crown, with the other win being a fourth-round knockout of the then-undefeated Bogdan Dinu.
“AJ is making a huge mistake coming over here to fight me in my own backyard,” Miller said in a statement. “This is the fight that I’ve been chasing all my life, and on June 1 I’m going to achieve the thing I was born to do and win the heavyweight championship of the world.”
Joshua Says Politics Prevented Wilder Fight
There is no doubt that a Joshua-Miller fight will draw interest. On Wednesday, Matchroom Boxing promoter Eddie Hearn announced that the bout will be streamed by DAZN, the service that recently signed a record contract with Canelo Alvarez.
But many fight fans will be disappointed that Joshua isn’t fighting one of the two other biggest names in the heavyweight division: either the UK’s Tyson Fury (27-0-1, 19 KOs), who is the lineal world champion, or WBC champion Deontay Wilder (40-0-1, 39 KOs).
Wilder and Fury fought to a draw in December after a thrilling contest that ended with an unforgettable 12th round in which Wilder scored a brutal knockdown only to see Fury get back up and finish the round strong, leading to a split decision.
On his YouTube channel, Joshua said that he regretted not being able to fight Wilder immediately.
“We were looking to get that fight on April 13 but thing happened, boxing politics, I’m sure you guys are aware,” Joshua said. “So we had to branch out and look for other options. Miller came up. It’s an exciting fight, he’s an undefeated heavyweight.”
Sportsbooks aren’t convinced that Miller has the experience or skills to give Joshua a serious challenge. At William Hill, Joshua can be backed at 1/8 odds to win the fight, while Miller is fetching 5/1.
June 1 could prove to be a huge day in British sports. Along with the Joshua-Miller fight, it is also the day of the Champions League final – a competition that English side Manchester City is currently favored to win.