It was officially announced yesterday that Andy Ruiz Jr. (32-1, 21 KO) will be Anthony Joshua’s (22-0, 21 KOs) new opponent on June 1st. The fight, where Joshua’s WBA, WBO, IBF, and IBO titles will be at stake, will be Joshua’s U.S. debut and will take place at Madison Square Garden.
Jarrell ‘Big Baby’ Miller (23-0, 20 KOs) was originally scheduled to be Joshua’s opponent, but that fight was scrapped when Miller tested positive for three different banned substances; EPO, GW1516, and HGH. This left Joshua’s promoter, Eddie Hearn, looking everywhere for replacements. Luis ‘King Kong’ Ortiz (31-1, 26 KOs), Adam Kownacki (19-0, 15 KOs) seemed to be at top of the list, but both declined the fight (and multimillion dollar purses) because 6 weeks was ‘not enough time’ to prepare for Joshua.
Michael Hunter and Joe Joyce also seemed to be in the running but it was ultimately the Mexican-American fighter who got the call. And honestly speaking, for a late replacement, this is pretty damn good. Some might even argue that Ruiz is a better opponent than Miller originally was.
Ruiz, 29, is a young, solid boxer with deceptively fast hands. If given the opportunity he will unleash combinations at an impressive speed. Resume-wise Hearn easily could have picked a worse opponent. Ruiz previously fought for the vacant WBO heavyweight title (now in Joshua’s possession) against Joseph Parker (25-2, 19 KOs) back in 2016. Despite losing a narrow majority decision, Ruiz fought well. That fight also aged well for him, as Parker is the only man to take Joshua the distance and even won some of the early-middle rounds.
Ruiz is also currently riding a 3-fight win streak, most recently coming off a victory over Alexander Dimitrenko (41-5, 26 KOs) a couple of weeks ago. Ruiz is in shape, has experience at the top heavyweighlevel, and will surely bring some Mexican fans out to Madison Square Garden. Not bad.
And where does Jarrell Miller stand in all this? Well, for starters he lost his opportunity to become the best heavyweight in the world and also lost out on millions of dollars. He now also has an asterisk on his entire career and it wouldn’t be surprising if fighters flat out refused to fight him in the future. They would be well within their right to do so. After all, this wasn’t one failed drug test (one is already too many). It was three, for three different substances. Eddie Hearn, who was promoting the Joshua-Miller fight, has also called him out, thrown him under the bus, and ran him over with it.
Don’t worry though, the WBA has come to make things right. They’ve given Miller a six month suspension, which means he won’t be in their rankings until September. He’ll have to register for VADA testing to get back in.
I’m sure a six month suspension for 3 different substance will send a serious message to other boxers that they shouldn’t take PED’s because of the consequences. Boxing always has a way of making a fool of itself. (smh)