Here we go again.
It’s never quiet in the heavyweight division, with Jarrell Miller testing positive for the performance-enhancing substance GW1516 just the latest twist in an unpredictable six months of mayhem.
Just as we had begun to come to terms with “Big Baby” taking on Anthony Joshua for the WBA, IBF and WBO heavyweight straps, news broke on Wednesday morning from VADA that there had been “an adverse finding in Jarrell Miller’s sample collected on March 20th, 2019.”
Sure, we haven’t had confirmation that this fight has been scrapped yet, but let’s say Eddie Hearn and Anthony Joshua are left scrambling for a new opponent to grace the ring inside Madison Square Garden on June 1st: who gets the call?
Ranked No. 4 with the IBF, unbeaten Polish-American Adam Kownacki seems a sensible option to jump in with Joshua inside the Garden.
Unbeaten in 19 outings, “Babyface” has fought eight of his last 10 fights inside the Barclays Center in New York, with his latest victory coming in a second round KO of Gerald Washington earlier this year.
With a fast-growing fan base in New York, Kownacki has received plenty of interest from DAZN, ESPN and PBC for a long-term deal. He has proved he can sell tickets in the Big Apple, so a leap of faith into a fight with Joshua for the unified heavyweight straps may be considered early, but it will be well received.
It may take a big payday from Eddie’s pockets, but getting Luis Ortiz on such short notice would be a fan favourite decision.
Ortiz is coming off the back of a UD win over Christian Hammer in early March, so it’s unclear whether “King Kong” will be ticking over in camp for a potential summer-showdown.
The Cuban southpaw would be a stylistic nightmare for Joshua with AJ and his coach Rob McCracken focusing on the slugging style of Miller through the early parts of camp. A switch to cope with Ortiz’s slick movement would raise too bigger concerns to deem the fight worthy of taking, surely?
It looked all set for Dillian to take on AJ inside London’s Wembley Stadium on April 13 this year; however, contractual stumbling blocks were found in the rematch clause, meaning Whyte felt inclined to sit on his ranking, waiting for his mandatory shot to be called.
The waters have muddied since, with the WBC giving Dominic Breazeale a shot at Deontay Wilder’s WBC belt on May 18; however, I can’t see this being enough to force Whyte’s hand in jumping into the ring with AJ on six weeks’ notice.
Whyte made it clear in January that he wasn’t willing to fight Joshua unless he had a full camp of preparation beforehand. His July 13th date at the O2 Arena looks likely to be announced in the next couple of weeks, so the chances of seeing the “Body Snatcher” in New York is doubtful.
It’s hard to know where we stand with Kubrat Pulev. The Bulgarian is still mandatory for the IBF heavyweight title, so engineering the 37-year-old into the fight on June 1st would benefit Joshua on his quest for the undisputed championship.
With kiss-gate dominating Pulev’s headlines in recent weeks, it’s hard to imagine the “The Cobra” is in any position to take this fight on such short notice. A huge figure would have to be thrown the way of the Bulgarian, or he will just sit on his IBF ranking until early next year.
Chisora’s manager, former cruiserweight and heavyweight world champion David Haye, threw Del Boy’s hat into the ring for a clash with Joshua this morning, having heard the news about Jarrell Miller break.
Chisora fights Senad Gashi this weekend at the O2 Arena, with Haye expecting a dominant win from the reborn “War” Chisora.
“I phoned Eddie today and said Dereck is up there,” Haye told Sky Sports News. “He said OK, brilliant, let’s get Saturday out of the way then we can talk about it.
“He needs to realise winning this fight [vs Gashi] in good style really does put him in the front light [for Joshua],” Haye added.
“He is in great shape already. He will have one or two days off then be back sparring, getting him prepared for this big, potential fight of his life.”
With nine losses on his record, it’s hard to fight the corner of Chisora in his quest for a shot with AJ. He may be in the shape of his life, but a shot at a heavyweight title has surely sailed by.
Rumours of a return for Wlad have been rumbling under the surface for a while. His 2017 Fight of the Year contender with Joshua will live long in the memory of everyone in attendance at Wembley Stadium, but will the Ukrainian risk his comeback by stepping straight back in with the unified champion?
Wlad has kept himself in shape throughout his retirement so far, so a six-week camp could be feasible if he truly wanted it. It’s the least likely of the bunch, but boy, what a statement of intent it would be.
Other notable contenders: Manuel Charr (not fought since 2017); Michael Hunter (only just signed with Matchroom); Charles Martin (gotcha!)