How long can Anthony Joshua ignore trouble-making Jarrell Miller?

Brash-talking Jarrell Miller has served THREE drugs bans but with his frequent taunting of Anthony Joshua ahead of the ‘Day of Reckoning’, Big Baby is becoming the fighter the Briton can no longer ignore

  • The Brooklyn-born heavyweight has targeted AJ more than opponent Dubois 
  • Pair were set to meet in 2019 before Miller was sidelined by a positive result 
  • Jarrell Miller has beef with Eddie Hearn as well as AJ… why we could be set for one of the feistiest bouts we’ve seen in years – The Hook

Anthony Joshua didn’t rise to his opponent, Otto Wallin. Nor did he bat an eyelid when lightly challenged by the man boxing fans had hoped he’d be matched with, Deontay Wilder. 

But when Jarrell Miller baited the British former world champion at the press conference announcing the ‘Day of Reckoning’ card in November, his cool facade began to crack. 

‘Miller, don’t start with me,’ Joshua snapped back after Miller suggested that Wilder would put the fighter ‘in a grave’ – and that he would send him ‘to the hospital’. 

‘You know I’ll come over and slap you. You’re doing nothing to me. Watch your mouth or I’ll slap it for you.’ 

In his words, Miller was determined to be ‘a bully’. To press AJ’s buttons with a success that few have seen. After the pair touched down in Saudi a week ahead of Saturday’s box-office card, Big Baby doubled down on his abuse, calling Joshua a ‘p***y’. 

Jarrell Miller saved his fire during the ‘Day of Reckoning’ press conference for Anthony Joshua

The British fighter kept his cool as jibes were slung his way but couldn’t resist biting back

Miller had some left in the tank for his actual opponent on Saturday night, Daniel Dubois, getting into it in their hotel lobby, but his dogged pursuit of AJ harks back to a bitter rivalry forged ahead of an abortive fight over four years ago. Despite fans clamouring for the imminent match-up of Joshua and Wilder, it seems increasingly inevitable that the pair will meet in the ring to settle the simmering rivalry. 

An unorthodox start – and a hint of what was to come 

Miller grew up a streetfighter. The orthodox fighter took up Muay-Thai at the age of 14 in a bid to defend himself in the neighbourhood where he grew up, Brooklyn in New York. Before staking his claim amongst top heavyweights, he was a successful kickboxer, with an impressive unbeaten record. 

In his early twenties Miller was on a 19-0 tear with nine KOs to his name, before two ill-fated meetings with Mirko Filipovic handed him the two defeats of his nascent career. 

But in what would become a dark recurrence in his heavyweight career, towards the end of his spell in the sport Miller was suspended for a failed drugs test that saw his results testing positive for methylhexaneamine – a mild stimulant linked with weight-loss – after his first Filipovic meeting in 2014. 

Miller returned only briefly to the discipline before crossing over into boxing full-time in 2015, six years after his debut win in the division against Darius Whitson. As well as defeating Raymong Ochieng, Damon McCreary, Excell Holmes and Akhror Muralimov, the New York native had eye-catching credentials as a frequent sparring partner of Wladimir Klitschko and quickly progressed through the ranks, gaining attention as much for his results as his outspoken perspective.

Miller initially competed in the heavyweight division alongside a kickboxing and MMA career (pictured in 2014)

The New York man-mountain rose up the ranks after committing to boxing full-time in 2015

After winning the interim WBA-NABA heavyweight title at the start of 2016, Miller went big, calling out then WBC champion Wilder, unified world champion Tyson Fury, and for the first time, Joshua – but it would be just over two years and many taunts later that the pair would prepare to meet. 

Big banner clash scrapped 

In an interview with Boxing News in 2016, Miller claimed that he would ‘absolutely love’ AJ to ‘talk that talk’ and because he would ‘straight up get in his face and show him what I’m about’, but later suggested that it would be Derek Chisora who would make the better opponent for him. Joshua wasn’t biting. 

Jarrell Miller: Fact file 

Age: 35

Height: 6ft 4 inches

Reach: 78 inches

Bouts: 27

Wins: 26

Draws: 1

Defeats: 0

Knockouts: 22

But in the years since, few have been able to rile up the Briton like the brash-talking American, who seemed determined to drag Joshua to US soil and force a brawl. Whilst Joshua was unifying the belts against Klitschko and going the distance with Joseph Parker, Miller had to content himself with overturning Gerald Washington and Mariusz Wach. 

In July 2018, Joshua and Miller publicly stared one another down for the first time as Miller teased that the ‘English muffin’ was ‘small fry’ compared to himself as AJ lined up with opponent Alexander Povetkin aghead of their September clash at Wembley. Joshua rounded on Miller, lurking at the side of the stage, who told him to ‘kiss my ass’ and accused him of ‘smelling of whiskey’.

There would be eight more months before their 2019 Madison Square Garden clash was announced, but with the news came the resuming of hostilities. In his home city, Miller was determined to teach his opponent a lesson, breaking the story with an ominous invitation. 

‘WELCOME TO MY CITY WERE (sic) RATS AND ROCHES (sic) STEAL YOUR POCKET MONEY,’ Miller tweeted – but the boldest statement was to come at their opening press conference. 

Miller accused Joshua – on no evidence – of using performance-enhancing drugs. Joshua promptly offered back: ‘Jarrell’s been banned for drugs. So maybe that’s why he’s saying it’.

Two provactive press conferences ahead of their anticipated June 2019 clash saw sparks fly

Bad blood simmered between the two men long after the fight was called off due to Miller’s positive result 

AJ instead fought Andy Ruiz Jr, who pulled off the mother-of-all upsets in the Big Apple

Joshua saying that he had plans to ‘steal (Miller’s) soul’ were among the tamer public pronouncements between the two heavyweights. 

But just two months later, the fight was off. In an ironic twist, it was Miller who once again fell to a string of drugs tests after testing positive for banned substance GW501516. Further tests confirmed the result as well as the presence of EPO and human growth hormone, and saw Miller receive a six-month ban by the WBA. 

The result proved not only a humiliation, but skirted close to financial disaster. Eddie Hearn claimed in June 2022 that he was still owed money by the New Yorker, and Matchroom Promotions battled to fill a gaping hole on a much-hyped card. 

Their pick for a replacement – Andy Ruiz Jr – would ultimately prove a fateful one for Joshua, who went on to lose the bout in a near-historic upset.  

Big Baby in the wilderness 

The failed tests of April 2019 had a lasting legacy. Out of action, Miller could only cool his heels waiting for a fight against Jerry Forrest in July 2020, and defend his innocence. 

But a second hammer blow would fall just over a week before the anticipated match-up as Miller failed yet another drugs test for the same substance, GW501516, which shelved the clash. 

‘I have never, ever willingly taken a steroid for performance-enhancing purposes,’ Miller protested to Fight Network three days after the results were returned. ‘Did I take something for healing properties, for injuries? Yes I have. 

The 35-year-old has denied using PEDs in preparing for a fight but was still handed a ban

Big Baby will fight Daniel Dubois in Saudi Arabia on Saturday night as part of the undercard

‘But to win a fight and during a training camp? No, I have never done that.’

His argument held no truck with getting his ban lifted, however. The next one? Two years. Unlike in 2019, where Miller did not hold a boxing licence due to a particular loop hold, the Nevada commission could bring a hefty punishment against the fighter – and one that kept him out of the ring until he stepped up to defeat Ariel Esteban Bracamonte in July 2022. 

Since then, his record has been unbeaten – but patchy – as the fighter bounces between lesser opponents and exhibition bouts. His last run-out against Antonio Zepada was widely pilloried by fans who dubbed the contest a ‘snore fest’ and labelled the heavyweights unwilling to land their punches. 

A return to competitive action on one of the most heavily hyped cards in recent memory against Dubois will put Miller to the test as to whether his bite can match his bark.   

How much longer can AJ duck Miller?  

Facing Dubois on Saturday night has felt like a sideshow to rumbling tensions that first surfaced a month ago in London. On Saudi soil, the blows have only intensified – but Joshua is committed to being above the fray, for now. 

When asked on Tuesday evening about the possibility of meeting Miller, Joshua was firm. 

‘He’s a drugs cheat,’ AJ claimed, before being asked if he would take him on. 

‘No, definitely not. No way. Him and Dillian (Whyte) would make a good fight’. 

The jibe has weight, with Joshua waiting for both men only to have their bouts scrapped due to adverse findings.  

Joshua will go toe-to-toe will Otto Wallin on Saturday despite many hoping he would finally fight Deontay Wilder

The former world champions was adamant that he wouldn’t fight Miller – but for how long? 

Amid the noise, Hearn remains adamant that the two men aren’t set to meet any time soon, stating in the clearest terms that he wouldn’t be happy with the match-up in June after the breakdown of negotiations with Dillian Whyte. 

Miller’s promoter Dmitriy Salita offered up Big Baby as a potential replacement, but that Matchroom boss quickly snubbed the idea.  

The ‘Day of Reckoning’ could crystalise things, as resentment between the pair grows, and with it, an appeatite. 

But if Wilder, Joshua, and Miller all survive their tests, and Wilder-Joshua fails to materialise, it could be that Miller finally has to put his money where his mouth is – and Joshua gets that long-hoped-for chance to finally shut his opponent up.  

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