Anthony Joshua’s long-awaited US debut has been thrown into disarray this week, with the news that Jarrell ‘Big Baby’ Miller has had his New York boxing license suspended due to a failed drug test.
Early last week, Miller tested positive for GW1516, following two more failed drugs test he took to social media to offer a grovelling apology to his fans,
This marks the second time in six months that Joshua has had a scheduled bout rearranged. He was originally expected to defend his IBF, WBO and IBO titles at Wembley Stadium on April 13th. At the start of the year the date was scrapped in favour of the Madison Square Garden bout, yet four months into the year we now find ourselves in a similar position.
Rumours have been circulating since the announcement, ranging from expected opponents such as Luis Ortiz and Michael Hunter, to the more absurd in Joe Joyce and Manuel Charr.
AJ’s promoter, Matchroom Boxing director Eddie Hearn, spoke to ESPN.com earlier today [23rd April]. Below, we give a run-down of the six men in the running for the coveted opponent position:
ANDY RUIZ JR (32-1, 21 KO)
Mexican-American Ruiz Jr has certainly been the most vocal about the potential for a clash against Joshua. Hot off the heels of a commanding fifth-round TKO last weekend [April 19th] against German former IBF International Heavyweight Alexander Dimitrenko (41-5, 26 KO), Ruiz Jr is in a comfortable position for a World Title shot. On Instagram earlier this week, Ruiz Jr wasn’t forthcoming in letting Hearn know he was available,
“I’m here I’m ready. Sign your portion. It’s been a long time coming. We ‘shoulda’ met few years ago when I fought for the WBO belt.
“Styles make fights, I know my style is one that you haven’t met before. That WBO belt is actually mine because the whole world knows I beat Parker for it in New Zealand.
“I’ve been waiting a long time to get these straps from you. You can hold them for me until June 1.
“To anybody counting me out already get in line I’ve been counted out since I first started fighting. Nothing is stopping me now.”
Ruiz’s only shot at a World Title (for the vacant WBO Heavyweight Title) came up short ending in defeat via majority decision loss at the hands of former AJ opponent, New Zealand based Joseph Parker.
Despite three wins on the bounce, it’s clear that he may not look in the best shape. For his fight against Dimitrenko he weighed in at 262lb which is 16lb more than AJ was against Povetkin and putting him at the heavier end of the heavyweight scale
LUIS ORTIS (31-1, 26 KO)
The 40-year-old is favourite with most of the boxing world. Ortis’s only loss came to WBC Heavyweight title holder Deontay Wilder (40-0, 39 KO), in a thrilling heavyweight clash last March. Ortis may prove a worthy challenge for AJ, he managed to use his power to outbox Wilder for the early rounds of the fight, and despite hitting the canvas in the fifth, he came back stronger until Wilder dropped him with a brutal blow in the tenth round.
Ortis has fought back since then, defeating both Travis Kauffman (32-2, 23 KO) and Christian Hammer (24-6, 14 KO) to place his name firmly in frame. Interestingly speaking to iFLTV last week Eddie Hearn confessed that Ortis was his first pick for AJ’s US debut from the man himself,
“I’d love that fight [against Ortis]. That is a big fight. My feeling from their team is he won’t be rea