THE transformation of Anthony Joshua from housewives’ favourite to angry young man continued in London today as he faced off with Jarrell Miller at the UK press conference to promote their June 1 Madison Square Garden contest.
In New York last week, Miller – after showering his rival with insults – shoved Joshua backwards at the US presser; behaviour that visibly annoyed the WBA, IBF and WBO champion. Before today’s press conference, promoter Eddie Hearn said he had never seen Joshua – used to far more respect from his opponents – so incensed.
The latest face-off passed without any hitch but Joshua, who eyeballed Miller for long periods, has not taken kindly his challenger’s behaviour.
“All this spirit that guy has from talking shit,” Joshua said about Miller, “I’m going to strip it from him.
“Look at his face, I’m going to reconstruct his face and body. I’m looking forward to it.”
Such boasts are commonplace within the boxing world, but it’s something of a change for Joshua. Since winning Olympic gold at London 2012 he has largely been on his best behaviour whenever in the public eye. While he didn’t stray on to particularly offensive ground here it appears that Miller has certainly already achieved the first stage of his mission, and that is to get under Joshua’s skin.
Miller, for his part, seems to be enjoying the limelight and the mischief. He should, too, because the truth remains that he has done very little to merit this lucrative chance to fight for three major heavyweight titles.
Playing the villain, acting up and Joshua’s reaction to those antics were always going to be this fight’s biggest selling point. And in that regard, it’s so far so good from the challenger. It’s a narrative you can expect to continue until the opening bell.
And if Miller’s pre-fight role is to annoy, Joshua and his team suggested there’s a lot more to AJ than his current public persona might suggest.
It’s no secret that the Watford man was no angel before he was a boxer yet, today, he was unusually keen to reference his past.
“I reached a point in my life where I asked myself, ‘Do I want to drink, smoke and face the virtue of jail?
“Look at my hands,” the Englishman said as every camera in the room obliged. “The state of them is not from boxing, this is from street fighting.
“There won’t be many words spoken in the ring, it will just be punches landed,” said Joshua after showing zero amusement to Miller feigning sleep.
“On June 2 Jarrell Miller will be irrelevant to me and it will be on to the next mission.”
Joshua, for several reasons, is eager for this latest stage of his career to be over as soon as possible.