The animosity between heavyweight champion Anthony Joshua and challenger Jarrell Miller took little time to erupt in New York on Tuesday night as the American shoved the Briton within seconds of the pair coming nose to nose on stage, before a word had even been said.
Thereafter, separated by security teams, there were verbal insults thrown in a raucous news conference throughout which the Brooklyn fighter interrupted Joshua when he attempted to speak.
Joshua, who last fought in September, knocking out Russian Alexander Povetkin at Wembley in a defence of his WBO, WBA and IBF world heavyweight titles, puts the belts on the line at Madison Square Garden, Manhattan, on June 1 against the unbeaten Miller (23-0-1), who last beat journeyman Bogdan Dinu in November.
Joshua had failed to strike a deal with Deontay Wilder, the WBC champion, or British rival Dillian Whyte, leading to his date at Wembley being scrapped, promoter Eddie Hearn opting for an American debut against Miller. The fight will be shown on Sky Sports Box Office in the UK and on streaming service DAZN in the United States. Joshua is expected to earn £20 million and Miller £4 million.
“We are from the dirt; the gutter,” Miller said. “I worked hard for this, remember this, he didn’t want this fight first, he wanted easy money, he wanted Dillian Whyte. I ain’t playing by nobody’s rules. The quicker you understand that, you’ll know what kind of man I am.”
Joshua, clearly rattled by Miller manhandling him as the conference started, departed from his normally cool exterior, telling his foe: “You’re like a broken record. We’ve heard your story a thousand times. Tyson Fury knocked you out seven times in sparring. You’re a fat fool. I’m the champion. I’m deadly serious. Jarrell can’t beat me. Not even on his best day.
“June 1, look forward to it. Miller will not last seven rounds with me in there before I knock him out.”
It all lacked the decorum of earlier in the day, when Joshua had rung the bell to open the New York Stock Exchange, and indeed, the sense of history promoter Hearn had attempted to bring to the occasion, recalling the great names of Muhammad Ali, Joe Frazier, Rocky Marciano and others who have all fought at “the Garden” in the past.
There will be one thing on Joshua’s mind for 3½ months as he prepares to make a statement by knocking out Miller in his home town.