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Andy Ruiz Jr in line to face Anthony Joshua as Jarrell Miller receives six month ban

American steps up as a replacement to face the unified heavyweight champion after his original opponent's failed drug tests

Anthony Joshua will put his WBA, WBO and IBF titles on the line on June 1, expected to be against Andy Ruiz Jr. Reuters
Anthony Joshua will put his WBA, WBO and IBF titles on the line on June 1, expected to be against Andy Ruiz Jr. Reuters

Heavyweight boxing world champion Anthony Joshua is set to face Andy Ruiz Jr on his American debut, promoter Eddie Hearn said on Tuesday, as original opponent Jarrell Miller was handed a six-month suspension for his failed drug tests.

Joshua, the 29-year-old WBA, WBO and IBF champion, was scheduled to fight Miller at Madison Square Garden in New York City on June 1, but the American was caught doping, forcing organisers to find a replacement.

Ruiz looks set to be that man, and Hearn revealed on Tuesday that the deal is all but completed with just a few details to be finalised.

"He will entertain you, give it his all. Even if it means getting sensationally knocked out, he will rather do that than not do it," Hearn told Fighthype.com on Tuesday.

"I couldn't afford a guy who I thought may not be good enough or game enough to entertain the fans. I had to pick a guy in my heart who I thought will do everything to become world heavyweight champion at the Garden."

Ruiz has won 32 of his 33 professional fights, stopping 21 of his opponents. He fought for the WBO world title in 2016 but lost a majority decision to Joseph Parker, who Joshua defeated on points in 2016 to take the belt.

Joshua will be by far Ruiz's biggest test. The British Olympic gold medallist has a perfect 22-0 record and has stopped 21 of his opponents.

The news of Ruiz lining up to be Joshua's next fight came after the WBA passed a resolution to suspend Miller for six months following his failed drug tests.

Miller tested positive for three separate performance-enhancing substances - GW1516, EPO and HGH - and the WBA announced that the American fighter will be withdrawn from their rankings.

Miller will also need to register with the Voluntary Anti-Doping Association (Vada) and undergo random testing at his own expense. Should he wish to return to the WBA rankings at the end of his ban on September 19, he will have to submit the results.

Greg Cohen, Miller's co-promoter, said the suspension was fair and was similar to punishments handed out to Mexican world champion Saul Alvarez and British former world title holder Billy Joe Saunders, who both failed tests last year.

"It's appropriate, and we just look forward to moving on to bigger and better things in the future," Cohen said. "I don't think he has a choice. Certainly by way of this resolution, he's required to, and I'm sure Jarrell will be compliant with the resolution."

Updated: April 30, 2019 10:21 PM

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