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Taylor-Persoon undisputed showdown still on despite Miller's failed drug test

The Anthony Joshua-headlined Madison Square Garden event will go ahead with or without Jarrell Miller.

Image: DAZN USA

WHEN NEWS BROKE via ESPN last night that Anthony Joshua’s opponent for 1 June at Madison Square Garden, Jarrell ‘Big Baby’ Miller, had tested positive for the banned substance GW1516, Irish fight fans might have feared the worst.

The ‘adverse finding’ in Miller’s sample, collected during a test conducted by the Voluntary Anti-Doping Agency (VADA), may well put a kibosh on his heavyweight world-title headline clash with Joshua, but Katie Taylor’s long-awaited showdown with rival Delfine Persoon for the undisputed World lightweight championship — scheduled for the same bill — is set to go ahead as planned.

It’s understood the Madison Square Garden event is not under threat even if its originally confirmed headline bout is now unlikely to occur. Promoter Eddie Hearn and Matchroom Boxing are “working with all relevant parties and will update with more details soon”, while Joshua is continuing his preparation for a world-title defence on 1 June — be it against Miller or otherwise.

Anthony Joshua and Jarrell Miller Press Conference - Hilton London Syon Park 'Big Baby' accused Joshua of PED usage, then tested positive for a banned substance. Source: John Walton

Miller’s co-promoters, Salita Promotions, have released the following statement regarding the unbeaten Brooklynite, who had accused ‘AJ’ of PED use during their barbed exchanges in the lead-up:

We are in the process of obtaining further information about VADA’s finding and will have more to say soon on this developing situation. In the meantime Jarrell continues to train for his 1 June fight against Anthony Joshua.

GW1516, which was found in Miller’s system following VADA testing, was originally developed in the 1990s as a treatment for diabetes, obesity and cardiovascular disease. It works by forcing skeletal muscle to use fat rather than carbohydrates as an energy source. Used by some for fat loss, in the context of athletic enhancement, GW1516 also has benefits as an endurance aid.

This is the second time Miller has failed a drug test. In 2014, when he was still a kickboxer, he was suspended for nine months and fined $2,500 by the California State Athletic Commission when he tested positive for methylhexaneamine, a weight-loss agent and athletic performance enhancer.

Promoter Hearn is already exploring potential replacements for Miller in the likelihood that the hometown man is forbidden from fighting by the New York State Athletic Commission (there will first likely be a hearing).

Names such as Dillian Whyte and Luis Ortiz have been mentioned, while the manager of unbeaten former British amateur standout and current pro prospect Joe Joyce has put his man forward.

Katie Taylor Katie Taylor will still face Delfine Persoon in a career-biggest and career-toughest fight at MSG. Source: Tom Hogan/INPHO

Taylor’s opponent for 1 June, Delfine Persoon, has also been in the news in relation to drug-testing recently. The Belgian was last week cleared in her homeland despite being unable to complete a test in October, in the lead-up to her December world-title defence with Judy Waguthii.

Prosecutor Patrick Verlooy explained that Persoon had been visited at home by a tester on the morning of 28 October but, because she had just used the bathroom, was unable to urinate.

The tester accompanied Persoon to training and, later, to her day job as a police officer. However, the tester left without a sample when the WBC champion was required to conduct a surveillance mission in a neighbouring town.

“Delfine Persoon had just gone to the bathroom,” said Verlooy. “The court accepted this argument, and therefore acquitted it.

“When the check-up doctor registered at her home that day, Delfine Persoon was unable to immediately deliver a sample because she had just been to the toilet. Subsequently, the control doctor went to her training course and later also to the police offices in Bruges, but even there it was not possible to pee.

“After this, Delfine Persoon had to leave for a monitoring assignment in Aalst and the inspection doctor was not allowed to follow, after which the check was interrupted.”

The42 understands Persoon has since tested clean on several occasions, including before and after her next fight versus Melissa St Vil in March.

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Joshua fight in doubt after Miller’s ‘adverse finding’

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