Unified heavyweight champion Anthony Joshua’s U.S. debut has officially suffered a major blow, as intended challenger Jarrell Miller has failed more VADA tests.
Jarrell Miller, who was scheduled to challenge WBA/IBF/WBO/IBO heavyweight champion Anthony Joshua on June 1, has now reportedly failed additional VADA tests, per ESPN.
It was announced on April 16 that Miller had failed a urine test conducted by VADA on March 20. Miller tested positive for GW1516, a banned substance.
The New York State Athletic Commission denied Miller a license to compete in the scheduled heavyweight title fight at Madison Square Garden, but Miller and his team pushed for a ‘B’ sample to be tested.
Now, a second urine test, conducted March 31, has come back positive for EPO, as well as GW1516. A blood test from the same date also came back positive for Human Growth Hormone (HGH).
Joshua’s promoter, Eddie Hearn of Matchroom Boxing, officially confirmed the additional failed testing via Twitter. He also announced a replacement opponent for Joshua will be announced within the coming week.
“We have now received news from VADA that Jarrell Miller has now failed a second separate test for a further substance,” Hearn tweeted. “AJ’s June 1 opponent will be announced next week – if you don’t think you can beat him clean then delete my number!”
Miller also failed a drug test in 2014 as a kickboxer, testing positive for methylhexaneamine following his GLORY 17 fight with Mirko Cro Cop. He served a nine-month suspension from the California State Athletic Commission.
In an Instagram post from Chris Mannix of Sports Illustrated, Miller made his first comments since the additional test results.
“A lot can be said right now; I’m going to get straight to the point,” Miller said. “I messed up. I made a bad call. A lot of ways to handle the situation; I handled it wrongly and I’m paying the price for it. I missed out on a big opportunity and I’m hurting on the inside.
“My heart is bleeding right now. I hurt my family, my friends, my team, my supporters. But, I’m going to own up to it. I’m going to deal with it, I’m going to correct it and I’m going to come back better and I’m humbled.
“It’s time to do right and get right.”
The June 1 heavyweight title showdown is scheduled to be Joshua’s American debut after exclusively competing in the United Kingdom since the start of his career. While a fight with Joshua will still go on, and there are a number of replacement challengers lining up already, this could prevent Joshua’s stock in the U.S. reaching what it could have been after a fight with Miller.
And if that’s the case, this could very well slow down talks for a long-awaited undisputed title bout with WBC champion Deontay Wilder, who defends his championship at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, NY, two weeks before the Joshua fight at MSG.
Joshua and Wilder’s camps have been in negotiations for quite some time, and the two sides have not come to an agreement despite the power such a fight could do to get boxing more momentum in the U.S.
Date and venue had been a breaking point in previous negotiations, with Wilder at one point even offering Joshua $50 million guaranteed to have the fight take place in the U.S. The sides got close for an April 2019 fight at Wembley Stadium in the U.K., but details in the contract — as well as the WBA mandating a Joshua title defense against Alexander Povetkin or be stripped of the title — ultimately resulted in the fight falling through.
Wilder instead went on to fight Tyson Fury in a pay-per-view title fight on December 1.
Per Boxing Scene, Michael Hunter, a former WBO cruiserweight title challenger and amateur national champion who recently signed with Hearn, is a heavy favorite for the new challenger role.