Anthony Joshua is currently gearing up to face Swedish star Otto Wallin at the Kingdom Arena in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia on December 23. However, the real animosity has been between AJ and at least two other contenders who will also be featured on the same card.
The plan is for Joshua and Deontay Wilder, who takes on former champ Joseph Parker, to square off sometime in 2024. Even though they’ve never fought, Joshua and Wilder have a long history of failed fight negotiations and ill-feeling was visceral when they came face-to-face at a London press conference announcing the December card.
However, the atmosphere was even worse when Joshua renewed ties with Jarrell ‘Big Baby’ Miller – and for good reason.
When Joshua and Miller fell apart in April 2019, a lot of people were extremely upset.
Joshua, then the unified champion, was itching to make Miller pay for a string of unsavoury pre-fight jibes. Matchroom Boxing, who had spent a lot of money on AJ’s U.S. debut, had financial concerns and now had to source a replacement at six weeks’ notice. DAZN, who had just entered the Joshua business, wasn’t best pleased either.
And neither was this writer, who had spoken to Miller for a Ring Magazine cover story that was subsequently scrapped.
“I’m a warrior and I’ll do this until the day I die,” Miller told me weeks before the scheduled but ill-fated contest. “No matter what happens, I’ll be going in there to do my job. I’ll stop AJ inside seven rounds. He won’t keep up with my pace and he’ll be gassed out.
“I’m going to come in around 300 to 305 pounds. I’m not looking to slim right down or anything like that. I’m working hard, I’m doing my conditioning and I’m gonna come in at a comfortable weight. I think 300 is my good number. I’m a big, hungry guy with fast hands, I definitely don’t like him and I don’t give a s— about referees.”
Why was Jarrell Miller pulled from the Anthony Joshua fight?
Unfortunately, Miller didn’t give a s— about pre-fight drug testing either. The bombastic New Yorker tested positive for GW501516, EPO and HGH.
To nobody’s surprise, Miller was pulled from the card, but in a bizarre turn of events, the New York State Athletic Commission couldn’t take disciplinary action against him because he was without a New York licence at the time. The WBA imposed a six-month ban, but Miller was still allowed to apply for a licence in different states.
Scheduled for a return to action against countryman Jerry Forrest in July 2020, Miller tested positive for GW501516 again. The Nevada Commission handed down a suspension, and Miller would be out of action for two years.
He returned in June 2022 and has posted three wins over subpar opposition.
Who replaced Jarrell Miller in Anthony Joshua fight?
On June 1, 2019, Anthony Joshua faced off against replacement opponent Andy Ruiz at Madison Square Garden.
Ruiz, a former world title challenger, was sourced at a month’s notice and had been very inactive. While he had posted a fifth-round stoppage over Alexander Dimitrenko days earlier, the rotund Mexican American had only fought three times in two-and-a-half years and was subsequently installed as a +1100 underdog.
You know what they say: anything can happen in a heavyweight fight.
Joshua dropped Ruiz in a memorable third round, but his follow-up attempt when the challenger rose was reckless. A counter left hook wobbled the Englishman badly and a couple of additional shots put him on the canvas for the second time in his career.
The fight had changed in a split second. A determined Ruiz continued to apply pressure and scored with the more effective punches in the rounds that followed. Joshua was dropped again in the sixth and seventh rounds before being rescued by referee Michael Griffin.
Six months later, with a completely different game plan, Joshua easily outpointed Ruiz in Diriyah, Saudi Arabia, and regained his world titles.