Jarrell Miller is Anthony Joshua’s next opponent, but who is he and how did he earn a shot at the IBF, WBA and WBO heavyweight champion?
Heavyweight champion Anthony Joshua’s next opponent has finally been confirmed.
The IBF, WBA and WBO strap-holder will make his debut in the United States when he takes on the undefeated Jarrell Miller – a Matchroom stablemate – at Madison Square Garden on June 1.
With a potential April bout against WBC king Deontay Wilder at Wembley scuppered by a breakdown in talks and the ‘Bronze Bomber’ opting for a rematch with Tyson Fury after a controversial draw in Los Angeles last December, Miller has been granted a shot at Joshua.
The 30-year-old American – nicknamed ‘Big Baby’ – is known for an aggressive style and hunting down fierce knockouts, with 20 of his 24 fights as a professional ending inside the distance.
Miller is ranked second and third in the heavyweight division by the WBA and WBO respectively, but who is he and how did he get to this point?
Miller began his career in combat sports as a professional kickboxer. However, this meant he was ineligible for the amateur boxing ranks.
‘Big Baby’ had his first professional boxing bout in 2009, defeating Darius Whitson in the opening round, but it was almost two years until his next fight.
The only blot on his record came when a four-round contest against Joey Dawejko – his fifth pro bout – in January 2013 ended in a draw.
Rising through the ranks
Miller, who was soon serving as a sparring partner for Klitschko brothers Wladimir and Vitali, won his next 11 fights before claiming his first belt in the form of the interim NABA heavyweight title.
He earned the 14th knockout of his career in stunning fashion in the seventh round against Donovan Dennis in Tucson in January 2016, a fierce right-left combination leading to the fight being waved off.
Four months later he added the WBO NABO heavyweight title by stopping Nick Guivas in the second round and his defence against Fred Kassi in August of that year lasted just three sessions.
Confronting the champ
Miller provoked an angry response when he opted to confront Joshua at a news conference in his hometown of New York last July.
“I just walked up on him and whispered behind him, ‘You’re a punk. Let’s make it happen’,” Miller explained.
The 30-year-old did not appear to be on Joshua’s radar until talks over a unification fight with Wilder failed to bear fruit, but he has now booked the biggest bout of his career.
Since his altercation with Joshua, Miller has defeated Tomasz Adamek and Bogdan Dinu to move to 23-0-1, handing the latter his first defeat and winning the interim NABA heavyweight title.
However, he has never fought anyone of the Briton’s quality and only time will tell if he is up to the task.