NOTE: The fight got canceled. Read about Anthony Joshua vs. Andy Ruiz June 1.
Fighting in the United States for the first time in his career, defending WBA, IBF, WBO and IBO heavyweight champion Anthony Joshua defends his belts against number three contender Jarrell “Big Baby” Miller June 1 at the iconic Madison Square Garden in New York City.
Joshua knocked out long-time contender Alexander Povetkin last September. He wants to repeat the feat against Miller.
“June first, look forward to it,” said Joshua at a press conference last month. “Miller will not last seven rounds with me in there before I knock him out.”
The 6-7-inch Joshua is undefeated in 22 fights, scoring 21 knockouts. His fight with Povetkin, who came into the bout the loser of only one fight, had moments of worry – as the former International heavyweight champion was able to stun him. Joshua worked through these issues with power, eventually stopping Povetkin in seven intense rounds.
Joshua, 29, was brought along slowly, plowing through one opponent after another before meeting former, undisputed, heavyweight champion, Wladimir Klitschko two years ago. The fight was something of a heavyweight donnybrook.
Ninety thousand fight fans packed Wembley Stadium as they did in the glory days of Jack Dempsey. The first four rounds were fought at even pace. It was like waiting for a bomb to go off. That happened in round five when Joshua went after Klitschko like a man possessed. A number of hard blows floored the former champion. The bout appeared over, but Klitschko, showing championship heart, was up at six. He calmly looked over at Joshua—who tried to end the fight. But the cagey Klitschko held on and stayed out of range, even hurting his exhausted opponent.
Klitschko turned the tables in the next round. A right filled with TNT crashed off Joshua’s chin-sending him down for the first time in his young career. Woozy, Joshua got up and fought to survive. Entering round 11, the fight was still up for grabs.
Joshua had shown championship heart, while Klitschko fought well. The tide changed again when Joshua connected with a straight right that buckled Klitschko’s knees. Seconds later, a culmination of blows sent Klitschko to the canvas for the second time.
Klitschko was hurt, and everybody in the arena knew it. He got up but was down again seconds later when Joshua landed a pulverizing left hook.
Klitschko pulled himself up, gazing at his former sparring partner as the referee counted, like a man waiting for the executioner to flip the switch. Joshua forced Klitschko into the ropes and let fly with a number of punches, forcing the referee to halt to the contest.
Miller,30, is three inches shorter than Joshua, and lighter in the resume department. Arguably, his biggest win was last year when he blew out past-his-prime former titleholder Tomasz Adamek. Still, Miller has some attributes that could cause the sometimes-robotic Joshua problems.
Shorter than Joshua by three inches, Miller will likely outweigh the champion by forty pounds on fight night.
“Hard work, dedication, and cheeseburgers,” said Miller last year before he defeated Johann Duphapas by wide-decision.
Miller looks more like an out-of-shape linebacker than a boxer, but looks can be deceiving. He’s light on his feet, intelligent, and the possessor of good boxing skills. He can also punch, knocking out 11 of his last 12 opponents.
Joshua was buzzed by Dillian Whyte a few years ago and by Povetkin. Many have wondered about his chin and stamina.
The oddsmakers aren’t worried, installing Joshua as a big favorite (-600 as of Feb). A bettor would have to put down $600 on a Joshua win collect $100. For Miller, the big underdog (+475), a $100 bet would win $475.
I believe the odds will come down as the fight draws closer. Due to his athleticism, Miller does have a chance to pull off the upset.
Still, I see Joshua winning by stoppage. His experience and power will be too much for Miller to overcome.
Photo by The Independent