World heavyweight titleholder Anthony Joshua has announced that he will make his US debut at New York’s historic Madison Square Garden on June 1.
Joshua will begin the defence of his WBA, IBF, WBO, and IBO world heavyweight titles in 2019 against Brooklyn’s own Jarrell ‘Big Baby’ Miller.
The return of boxing’s crown jewel to the arena once graced by such heavyweight legends as Muhammad Ali, Joe Frazier, and Loe Louis will ensure a nostalgic atmosphere on Broadway.
It will also climax a bumper night out in Britain’s pubs, bars and clubs as the broadcast will follow the Champions League final earlier that evening.
All that adds up to a highly marketable event to underwrite Joshua’s projected first £20million-plus purse as he ventures abroad for the first time in his unbeaten professional career.
Even so, it remains a consolation prize following the collapse of plans for him to fight WBC titleholder Deontay Wilder in another of his Wembley Stadium spectaculars.
The April date for that bid to become the first undisputed world heavyweight champion since Lennox Lewis has been abandoned.
As have efforts by Joshua’s team to close alternative deals for Wembley with Tyson Fury and Dillian Whyte.
Still, the Big Baby in the Big Apple is not a bad fourth choice, offering as it does the opportunity for Joshua to make his presence felt in the lucrative American market place with what should be an eye-catching victory.
Speaking about the fight in a video posted to his YouTube channel and his official Twitter handle, Joshua said: “June 1 I’ll be traveling to MSG. New York City, the Big Apple,’ Joshua said in a video posted to social media.
“I’m there to take a bite out of that and I’ll be competing against Jarrell Miller.
“Wembley is so close to my heart, it’s a great spot, a great location. I’ve fought in small halls, I’ve fought in arenas. And it’s been a humbling and a blessing to fight in those stadiums.
“But now it’s time for a change. The current state of the division was the undisputed championship of the world.
“Myself and [Deontay] Wilder are the current active champions of the world. We were looking to get that fight on April 13 but things happened, boxing politics, I’m sure you guys are aware.
“So we had to branch out and look for other options. Miller came up. It’s an exciting fight, he’s an undefeated heavyweight.’
Miller – though hefty, packing a knock-out punch and also undefeated – looks to be lacking in the technique, mobility, and experience to pose a serious threat to Joshua.
Nevertheless, although there will be criticism of Joshua picking off another manifestly beatable opponent, this does satisfy the demands for him to fight outside his domestic comfort zone.
The 30-year-old Miller is undefeated in 24 professional fights with 23 wins and one draw. He said: “AJ is making a huge mistake coming over here to fight me in my own back yard.
“He wants to announce himself on the American stage but all he’s doing is delivering me those belts by hand.”
Joshua’s promoter Eddie Hearn added: “When you look at the heavyweight greats that have graced the renowned ‘Mecca of Boxing’, the names of Ali, Frazier, Marciano, and Tyson stand firm and June 1 will be when the world will witness AJ’s turn.”
Wilder and Fury are still expected to precede Joshua’s appearance in New York, even though purse bids for the rematch of their December 1 epic have been delayed for a second time.