Wednesday 18 September 2019

Katie Taylor mega-fight hits snag as Joshua bout thrown into jeopardy after opponent allegedly fails drug test

Jarrell Miller (right) tested positive for a banned substance ahead of his fight with Anthony Joshua.
Jarrell Miller (right) tested positive for a banned substance ahead of his fight with Anthony Joshua.

Sean McGoldrick

The Katie Taylor-Delfine Persoon lightweight unification fight has hit a snag less than 24 hours after it was announced.

Their clash, scheduled for June 1 in Madison Square Garden in New York, was to be one of the main support bouts on a show to be headlined by World heavyweight champion Anthony Joshua.

But his fight is now in jeopardy as his opponent Jarrell Miller has allegedly tested positive for a banned substance. Joshua’s manager Eddie Hearn announced the shock news in a short statement:

"We have been informed by VADA (Voluntary Anti-Drug Agency) that there has been an adverse finding in Jarrell Miller’s sample collected on March 20th, 2019. We are working with all the relevant parties with more details soon. AJ’s (Anthony Joshua) preparations continue for June 1st at MSG."

Unless Miller’s B sample tests negative, the odds are that the New York State Athletic Commission will not sanction Miller's involvement in the multi-million dollar showdown against Joshua.

Eddie Hearn’s Matchroom organisation then has three options, two of which have implications for the Taylor-Persoon clash. Their most probable course of action is to find a replacement for Miller.

However at six weeks notice, this is far from a straight-forward task. Furthermore, virtually all the leading heavyweights are unavailable.

WBC champion Deontay Wilder and unbeaten lineal champion Tyson Fury each have upcoming fights. Bulgarian Kubrat Pulev is suspended by the California State Athletic Commission after kissing a female reporter on the lips to close a post-fight interview last month, while England's Dillian Whyte is reported to have fallen out with Hearn.

The second option would be to elevate the bout between Taylor and Persoon to the top of the bill. Last weekend’s showdown between Clarissa Shields and Christina Hammer for the middleweight title topped the bill in Atlantic City.

But the June 1 show in Madison Square Garden, which took only two hours to become the highest grossing pre-sale event in the history of the arena – was marketed primarily on the back of it being Joshua’s long awaited US professional debut.

The nuclear option is to postpone the entire show until Miller serves a probable six month ban.

He is alleged to have tested positive for cardarine, a popular performance-enhancing drug used primary to get rid of fat. It also increases aerobic power and endurance.

The unbeaten American was due to earn a reported 4.5m dollars for the fight.

PA Media

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