Matchroom Boxing promoter Eddie Hearn is highly excited about his fighter IBF/IBO/WBA/WBO heavyweight champion Anthony Joshua (22-0, 21 KOs) defending his titles in America against the fast talking Jarrell ‘Big Baby’ Miller (23-0-1, 20 KOs) on June 1 at Madison Square Garden in New York.
Hearn believes this is just the beginning of the 29-year-old Joshua being transformed into a big star in the U.S market. It remains to be seen whether Joshua can help Hearn realize his dream.
”We’re facing the lion’s den in New York,” Hearn said to IFL TV. ”We’re going to create a card of all Brits and Irish against the world in New York. The press conference is next week. It’ll be Tuesday next week in New York, and the following next Monday in the UK. He’s going to take over the U.S,” Hearn said about the 29-year-old Joshua.
British heavyweight Lennox Lewis became a star of sorts in the U.S, but he fought there almost exclusively from the third year of his pro career until the end in 2003. Lewis didn’t just in the U.S once against an over-matched opponent and then figure he’d conquered America. Hearn is going to have to bring Joshua back to the U.S for most of his fights if he wants him to become a star there.
”They’re [U.S boxing fans] are going to absolutely love him,” Hearn said. “They’re going to see the best heavyweight in the world, and they’re going to see a great fighter. Big Baby is going to try and take his world championship in his own backyard,” Hearn said.
Hearn sounds very, very naive in believing that Joshua will become well loved after he beats the 315 pound Miller. Thus far, the U.S boxing fans, at least the knowledgable ones that follow the sport, aren’t too excited about the Joshua vs. Miller fight. Maybe that perception will change as the fight draws nearer, but as of today, the fans are underwhelmed. They see this fight as cherry picking by Hearn and Joshua. That’s obviously not a good sign. Joshua vs. Miller might be a well received fight in the UK, where they love AJ, but in the U.S, this fight is viewed as a title-milking fight for Joshua, and the fans don’t love it or even like it thus far.
“He [Miller] was more realistic [in negotiations than Tyson Fury and Deontay Wilder],” Hearn said in explaining why he picked Miller as Joshua’s opponent for June 1 rather than Tyson Fury or Deontay Wilder. “Maybe he was easier to deal with. What I got from Miller is, ‘I can beat AJ.’ AJ has got to be on his game.”
Not being a star or having much of a following, Miller wasn’t in the position to demand more money from Hearn the way that Deontay Wilder, Dillian Whyte and Tyson Fury all did. Hearn and Joshua are going to have to make better offers in the future if they want to face those type of heavyweights. Joshua can only go so far fighting the likes of Miller, Eric Molina, Alexander Povetkin, Joseph Parker and Carlos Takam. To get the good heavyweights to fight Joshua, Hearn is going to need to give them the money they’re looking for. If not, then U.S boxing fans will be stuck watching Joshua fight Miller two or three times, and whoever else Hearn can dig up. What that means if Joshua won’t become a star in the U.S.
“We’re going to take thousand and thousands of Brits, but we’re still going to Miller’s backyard,” Hearn said. “He’s top five in the world. He’s a dangerous heavyweight. He’s a tremendous personality, and he’s from New York. He’s a great talker, and he can fight. He’s going to go in and completely turn this U.S market on it’s head for heavyweight boxing,” Hearn said.
Miller’s ability to sell the Joshua fight is going to be a key ingredient to get the American boxing fans interested in subscribing to DAZN to watch the fight live. Joshua is an unknown to a lot of the casual fans, and he’s not a strong enough personalty to connect with the average fan in America. He’s too low key for him to sell his fights, especially if he’s going to be trying to sell mismatches like we’ve been seeing from him. Joshua has to make a major upgrade in the level of opposition that he’s been facing for him to become a star in the U.S. As far as Joshua’s personality goes, he’s probably never going to catch on with the U.S fans. He’s too low key to get the fans interested in what he says.
Joshua has a great shot at beating Miller even without the thousands of British boxing fans that will be flying over to see the fight live at Madison Square Garden in New York.