Anthony Joshua has argued for more stringent regulations to be put in place when fighters fail doping tests in the wake of Jarrell Miller’s meagre six-month ban.
Joshua was set to defend his WBA, IBF and WBO heavyweight titles against Miller on June 1 at Madison Square Garden, only for the Brooklyn challenger to reportedly test positive for a number of performance-enhancing drugs.
Andy Ruiz Jr has stepped in as the replacement for Miller, whose six-month suspension from the WBA has raised the latest debate about whether enough is being done to combat illicit substances in the sport.
Joshua told Press Association Sport: “Maybe there needs to be more of a situation where it’s not just a random six-month ban.
“I know, for instance, if I carry a bladed article I’m going to get x amount of time in jail, if I carry a weapon of destruction I’m going to get a certain amount of time in jail, so you know (the consequences of what will happen).
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“Six months is news to me, it’s like ‘why did he only get six months?’ It should be ‘Miller’s definitely getting this’, that’s my opinion on it.
“There should be something where people know if they mess up, this is exactly what is happening.”
The frequency with which elite fighters step into the ring means a six-month ban has been branded inadequate in many quarters.
Joshua himself will have had a gap of more than eight months since stopping Alexander Povetkin last September in his most recent outing and when he takes on Ruiz Jr in New York.
Joshua labelled the situation “crazy” and though he was eager to turn his attention towards his next opponent, the 29-year-old admitted his disappointment at missing out on the opportunity to silence the brash Miller.
Joshua said: “It is frustrating but at the same time we’ve got good people around us who manage these types of things and events.
“I’m happy I haven’t had sleepless nights trying to find an alternative opponent.
“I’ve concentrated on my training and that’s all that matters, I think, so Miller to the side, who’s next? Andy Ruiz and the show goes on.”
California-based Ruiz Jr has won 32 of his 33 professional contests, with the only setback a razor-thin majority points loss to former Joshua opponent Joseph Parker in December 2016.
That was Ruiz Jr’s only previous tilt at a world title though he was impressive when he stopped Alexander Dimitrenko a couple of weeks ago.
And his readiness to step into the breach with only a month’s official notice means he will be the opponent on Joshua’s long-awaited United States bow, with Luis Ortiz and Michael Hunter among those to miss out.
Joshua added: “We looked at various (fighters such as) Ortiz, Hunter, (Manuel) Charr, Ruiz – I think he’s the best one.
“Similar styles, big and strong, very good with his punch selection and it’s still going to go ahead at MSG on June 1.
“This is the next best shot – who else is there? If anyone could name anyone who was better then I was all ears but when we looked at the scope of who was available, this was the next best one.”
At 6ft 2in, Ruiz Jr will be giving away four inches in height and many more in reach but he is bullish about his prospects of causing a seismic upset.
Ruiz Jr said: “The chills – I’m really excited for this fight. There’s nervousness in me, but they’re happy nerves.
“A lot of people underestimated me, and I’m used to that. I’m not going in there scared and I’m not going in there nervous, I’m going to go in there mad and to take what’s mine.
“I think being so tall he fights like a big robot. I think with my style, my speed, my movement, I don’t think he’s fought anybody like me.
“When I do pull out this win, everything is going to change. It’s going to mean everything.”