Current heavyweight champion Anthony Joshua is ready to ‘rock and roll’ with Tyson Fury whenever the former champion wants to get in the ring with him.
Fury has not fought since taking four belts from Wladimir Klitschko in September 2015, but, with his well-publicised problems with UK Anti-Doping now behind him, the 29-year-old has returned to training.
The Manchester-born fighter still needs the British Boxing Board of Control to return his professional licence, but he has spent the last week telling Joshua, in several interviews and on social media, that he will be back soon to retake the titles he was forced to give up.
Anthony Joshua says he will fight Tyson Fury whenever he wants to step back into the ring
Not that the 28-year-old Joshua, who holds the IBF, IBO and WBA belts, has been paying much attention as he prepares for his next fight at the end of March, most likely against WBO champion Joseph Parker.
Speaking at BBC Sports Personality of the Year on Sunday, Joshua said he had not heard Fury’s latest claim that he was just a muscle-bound ‘carthorse’ and these taunts were just ‘what I deal with in my industry’.
On the more important issue of when Fury might be ready to back up these words in the ring, Joshua said: ‘I don’t know if he is back or what his situation is, but, as I always say, I stay consistent with what I’m doing and it’s up to him to get back on the gravy train.
‘So calling somebody out is irrelevant when you don’t know if you’re going to live up to your words. I’m sure he will, but at this present time he’s saying he needs warm-up fights. So tune in to what’s important and then focus on the bigger picture – that’s your strategy.’
Tyson Fury has been talking up a potential bout between the pair on his social media accounts
A £50million all-British showdown with heavyweight rival Joshua has been tipped for next year
Joshua, who beat Klitschko in arguably the fight of the year at Wembley in March, believes Fury would be better served by ‘working his way back’ over the next two years, but, if the self-styled ‘Gypsy King’ is in a hurry, so be it.
‘If he wants to get straight in the ring with me in the summer, let’s rock and roll,’ the London 2012 Olympic champion said.
‘The ball is in his court but either way I’m ready to roll – I don’t mind what we do.’
One potential opponent for Fury on the road to a clash with Joshua is Tony Bellew, who is scheduled to fight another former British world heavyweight champion, David Haye, in May.
Bellew and Fury have enjoyed several sessions of verbal sparring and the Liverpudlian said he would gladly take on the returning champion.
Fury is free to fight again but has not been in the ring since beating Wladimir Klitshcko in 2015
‘To tell the truth, I just want to see him back in a boxing ring,’ said Bellew.
‘I’d love to be his first fight back because if he meets me it will the quickest comeback in the history of boxing.’
In the meantime, Joshua has an appointment with a specialist to check that his nose has healed after Carlos Takam tagged him in an otherwise routine defence of his belts in October.
‘It didn’t break but it had all the symptoms,’ explained Joshua, who was the hot favourite to win Sports Personality of the Year but finished fourth on a night of surprises in Liverpool.
‘He definitely changed its position and I was bit bunged up for a little while after.
‘But I’m going to see a specialist next week just to make sure there’s no internal damage, because obviously breathing is so important with boxing, that’s all. It’s all right.’
Joshua has had to see a specialist over damage to his nose caused by Carlos Takam (left)