Heavyweight Champion Anthony Joshua has boldly stated that Tyson Fury is "welcome to enter the ring with him" and spoke of a lack of respect between the British pair.
Speaking to BBC Radio 5 live’s Sportsweek, Joshua said:
“What we are achieving as heavyweight champions is phenomenal, but for someone in my own industry to discredit it, I can’t respect that person."
“I don’t respect him. I don’t have much respect for many boxers in the heavyweight division. It’s not an act with me. I’m being honest. I used to. I used to say very nice things.
”If I speak well of Tyson Fury and say ‘what he’s achieved is so hard and I respect him’ it builds the credibility of the heavyweight championship belt up.
”But when Tyson Fury says ‘Anthony Joshua is a bum’ and ‘look at him, he’s struggling against this opponent’ it discredits everything I’ve achieved.”
The "Gypsy King" has been out of action for over two years after his victory over Wladimir Klitschko in November, 2015 which saw him win the WBA, IBF and IBO heavyweight straps.
However, Fury vacated his titles in October, 2016 to focus on mental health problems following the suspension of his licence by the British Boxing Board of Control (BBBofC) - leaving 28-year old Joshua to free win all three belts.
Fury accepted a backdated two-year ban for testing positive for a banned steroid in February, 2015 and is expected to regain his licence from the BBBofC in the coming months.
Speaking about a potential mega fight with Fury, Joshua said:
"He is a lively opponent when he is fit.
”He has his own battles and demons to face and once he has got over them he’s more than welcome to enter a ring with me. It’s something we should be focusing in on 2018.
”With all due respect to Tyson Fury, it would be wise if his handlers got him a few fights. Get the body ticking over again and get that love for the sport back. Get a few wins under the belt and then we can get it cracking.”