The panto phase of the London pageant was positively gentile. Only one profanity, “motherf****r”, although Jarrell Miller did add that Anthony Joshua looked like Scooby Doo. That, at least, was an original take on proceedings, and way more tolerable than last week’s “bitch” and “pansy” fest in New York.
There was still plenty on the bone, however. Well, as Joshua readily accepts, he is in this for the money and what is the point of such gatherings if not to sell tickets? Moreover, if you do have something mean to say, this is the time to say it, when opportunities for violent redress are limited. Invited to do so, Miller is never one to use one word when 100 will do. Just say the name “Joshua” and off he goes.
Out once more spilled allegations of drug abuse. “I’m from a bodybuilding background and let me tell you no-one puts on 20 pounds in a year. No-one.” It’s all too familiar to Joshua, who laughs off the allegations, pointing to his commitment to sundry testing programmes. “It’s not the first time. Wladimir [Klitschko] was being accused of it, lots of fighters get accused. Ultimately I get tested. In the next ten years if something was to come up it would be a genuine mistake because I don’t shove needles up my arse.”
He added: “The Adams testing programme, they have to know where I am so they can turn up two times a day any day. That’s a lifetime commitment. I have been on it since 2012.” Not to mention the £40k per fight he pays WADA for the privilege of being available to pee in a bottle 24 hours a day.
The magnificent body shape is not Joshua’s only questionable infraction according to Miller. “Let me tell you where I’m from we can smell bulls**t a mile off and Joshua is full of it,” Miller said continuing his one-man takedown of the Joshua construct. “It’s all bulls**t. The person you see up there. That is not who he is. He just surrounds himself with yes men.”
Perhaps the most bizarre line of attack from the Miller benches is the idea that Joshua is somehow the son of privilege. There is no hardship like a birth certificate stamped “Brooklyn Heights” is the Miller position. The force with which Miller brands Joshua an inauthentic fraud might be seen as a comfort blanket. The hinterland of the Brooklyn hood, awash with machismo as it is, does not allow for polite conversation when character is at issue.
Joshua’s trawl around Manhattan looking for property to add to his global portfolio seems to have particularly enraged the Miller camp. They ignore the reality of Joshua’s adolescent privation. He bought his first pair of gloves with a borrowed £25 and trained in a garden. Better that than bust his naked hands on enemy faces in the streets, which is also part of the Joshua boxing heritage. Taking up the sport was the means by which Joshua reversed out of an unproductive cycle of petty offences and court cases.
“American fighters tend to do this. ‘I come from the struggle man’. I get that’s where they come from but what relevance does that have to their boxing ability?” said Joshua. “It does not mean you can pick any kid from a bad background and they are going to be excellent. It’s how you apply yourself as well. I applied myself. To me what boxing meant was a way to better myself. I was a bricklayer at the time. I wanted to make money, lots of money. That was my ambition.”
Joshua’s absurd wealth will, you suspect, never cease to be a novelty to him. He forever bears the stamp of his underprivileged youth and reveals it in extremis when buttons are pressed. “Bitch” and “pansy” were two of the cruder embellishments rolled out in Miller’s direction in New York. Here on his own manor Joshua was a little more controlled, offering only to rearrange Miller’s face. “June 1st I’m going to be your surgeon, going to give you a makeover. I’m going to knock him clean out, 100 per cent.”