Comment & Analysis @JamesDielhenn
Joshua vs Miller: Anthony Joshua was irked by Jarrell 'Big Baby' Miller - that could result in bad news for the challenger
Last Updated: 20/02/19 2:08pm
Anthony Joshua was pushed, prodded and provoked and his mask slipped, just hours after he lit up New York’s Stock Exchange. Jarrell ‘Big Baby’ Miller is investing in his ability to unsettle the champion and is hoping for it to pay big dividends, writes James Dielhenn.
It has been a long time since Joshua found himself opposite such an antagonistic opponent, and perhaps none of his 22 foes have been as downright disrespectful as Miller who threw open the doors to his home city of New York with a shove and a snarl.
Joshua, behind the natural charm, is no shrinking violet and relishes such opportunities to bear his own teeth but it is something that he has been unaccustomed to. Not since 2016 has an opponent had quite such bold proclamations about Joshua's downfall - back then, consecutive fights against Dillian Whyte, Dominic Breazeale and Charles Martin came with tension before the first bell.
In his years as champion Joshua has met Wladimir Klitschko, Carlos Takam, Joseph Parker and Alexander Povetkin - men of class and respect, who share Joshua's values.
Nothing like 'Big Baby'.
Tuesday's press conference at Madison Square Garden should have been the calm before the storm which will take place in the same arena on June 1, but hostilities seemed inevitable.
Miller, sunglasses shielding eyes that have been fixed on Joshua since long before their first unscheduled face-off last year, immediately put his hands on Joshua. It was more than a push for the sake of it. It sent Joshua flying backwards.
There could be a method to Miller's madness.
Joshua has badly lost his cool before, when his most bitter rival Whyte stoked the flames of their rivalry before a December 2015 brawl. In that fight, an overly-emotional Joshua allowed Whyte a window of opportunity before ultimately winning.
"You can see Dillian Whyte - they are cut from the same cloth," Joshua said afterwards. "I don't expect anything else from characters like those."
He sounded willing to meet Miller in a blow-for-blow slugfest, warning: "Fire-fest I always win, boxing matches I always win. Whatever they want."
Promoter Eddie Hearn saw it all coming: "It's a ploy to get Anthony rattled."
The stakes have risen since that grudge match with Whyte for the British title. Now holder of three out of four major world titles, Joshua is the man with the target on his back. In front of a new audience in the US, things will be slightly different for him in the build-up to his next fight. He will be preparing, and then fighting, in the home city of his unbeaten challenger and that will breed a siege mentality.
Miller got what he wanted by antagonising Joshua this week but he might want to be careful what he wishes for.
Watch Anthony Joshua defend his world heavyweight titles against Jarrell Miller at Madison Square Garden in New York on June 1, live on Sky Sports Box Office.