Heavyweight contender Jarrell "Big Baby" Miller was denied a boxing license by the New York State Athletic Commission on Wednesday following his positive test for a banned substance.
Miller was preparing to challenge unified world titleholder Anthony Joshua on June 1 at Madison Square Garden in New York.
However, Miller, who had vociferously accused Joshua of using performance-enhancing drugs during their February media tour to promote the fight, tested positive for the banned substance GW1516 in a random urine test conducted by the Voluntary Anti-Doping Association on March 20. The results came to light on Tuesday night and the New York commission was notified along with both fighter camps.
"The New York State Athletic Commission has denied Jarrell Miller's professional boxing license application for a violation relating to the use of a prohibited substance. We have no further comment at this time," the commission said in a statement on Wednesday.
Miller (23-0-1, 20 KOs), 30, of Brooklyn, New York, has asked for his B sample to be tested. If the B sample comes back negative, which would be extremely rare, he could reapply for a license and likely would receive one, but that is a long shot.
Regardless, Matchroom Boxing promoter Eddie Hearn, Joshua's promoter, told ESPN on Wednesday after Miller's license was denied that the show will go on with Joshua (22-0, 21 KOs), 29, the British superstar, due to make his United States debut and make his seven title defense.
"I am on the search for a new opponent," Hearn said. "Literally anyone can get it. There are some names that would appeal to our partners -- DAZN, Sky Sports and Madison Square Garden -- more than others and it's our job to get the ones that appeal most. I've spoken to 16 heavyweights in the last 24 hours, 10 of which are not suitable."
Miller posted a statement on social media in which he denied knowingly taking a banned substance.
"I want to thank all of my supporters who have stood by me since day one and especially during this extremely difficult time," he said. "I am absolutely devastated upon hearing the news my boxing license has been revoked in NY State and I will be vigorously appealing this decision. I have NEVER knowingly taken any banned substance and when I found out the news (Tuesday) night I was totally shocked. My team and I stand for integrity, decency & honesty and together we will stand to fight this with everything we have!"
Miller said the positive result came a week after he had tested negative in a previous test.
"This was a voluntarily test that I was very happy to do and these results came just one week after another voluntarily test that I had taken which was completely clean," he said. "I refuse to just lie down and let my dream be taken away from me when I know in my heart that I've done nothing wrong. 15 years of hard work. I'm WARRIOR. I don't need a banned substance.
"Remember don't believe everything you hear and see. The facts will prevail and I shall be vindicated. I don't have anything to hide and the truth will make itself known."
The positive test was the second of Miller's combat sports career. In 2014, when he was participating in Glory kickboxing, he tested positive in a urine sample for the banned substance methylhexaneamineafter in connection to a decision loss to Mirko Cro Cop. The California State Athletic Commission suspended Miller for nine months and fined him $2,500.
Hearn said No. 1 on his list is Cuban puncher Luis "King Kong" Ortiz, a top contender, who gave world titlist Deontay Wilder a huge scare before getting knocked out in the 10th round in March 2018 in Brooklyn, New York. Ortiz has twice failed drug tests and been suspended.
"I spoke to Luis Ortiz's manager and he felt it was too short notice for the fight," Hearn said. "Whether that changes in the next couple of days, that's possible. There is still time. We will take anyone from the top 15."
Hearn said England's Dillian Whyte, who lost to Joshua before Joshua won a world title but has won several notable fights since and emerged as a top contender, would not take the fight because of the short notice.
Hearn listed a few others that would be acceptable: Michael Hunter, a former U.S. Olympian who Hearn recently signed; Oscar Rivas, who knocked out Bryant Jennings in January; New York-based Polish contender Adam Kownacki; secondary titlist Manuel Charr; and Kubrat Pulev, one of Joshua's mandatory challengers.
"Whoever wants it can get it," Hearn said. "The show goes on. We have over 10,000 Brits flying out. We need to put on a good main event and that's what AJ is training for. This is the Anthony Joshua show, not the Jarrell Miller show."