World boxing champion Anthony Joshua has refused to rule out the prospect of a world heavyweight title clash with his British rival Tyson Fury despite the former champion’s travails.
Fury has not fought since beating Wladimir Klitschko to win the IBF, WBA and WBO titles in December 2015 after being handed a drugs ban and then being stripped of his licence by the British Boxing Board of Control (BBBoC).
For this, Tyson Fury had challenged UKAD (UK Anti-doping) to hurry up and either ban him for taking an illegal substance or clear him so he can resume his turbulent career.
Earlier this month, the 29-year-old Fury said he would not reapply to the BBBoC for the right to fight again, further reducing the chances of a return. He may also need to be cleared of mental health problems which reportedly also forced him to relinquish his titles. He had further admitted last October to taking cocaine to alleviate depression.
But Joshua, who defends his IBF and WBA titles against late replacement Carlos Takam in Cardiff on Saturday, has left the door open to a fight with Fury.
“What was his (Fury’s) fighting weight — 18 stone (114 kilograms)? Even if he comes back at 22 stone, (George) Foreman came back bigger when he was in his prime,” Joshua said.
“If he wants to fight and gets his licence at 30 or 40 stone — if he wants to get in the ring and he shows he can move about and control that weight, people will watch him.
“But if he comes back at that weight and he’s getting into trouble against journeymen, then people won’t be interested. So it’s how he performs at his new weight.”
Joshua is aiming to unify the heavyweight titles. A fight with WBO champion Joseph Parker — who beat Fury’s cousin Hughie in Manchester last month — is set for early next year, as well as a WBA mandatory bout before a prospective clash with reigning WBC king Deontay Wilder.
Joshua shook up the sport with the manner of his win over Klitschko and his promoter Eddie Hearn stressed his charge would not accept unreasonable demands for the sake of unifying the belts.
Hearn said: “We wouldn’t be held to ransom for a belt. (Kubrat) Pulev or Takam are fine for his defence of the title after Klitschko, but if it was someone like (Fres) Oquendo, we could say, ‘no-one wants to watch that fight’.
Fury has asked UKAD to “Clear my name and let me return to my former glory” anticipating that he might get a chance to slug it out with Anthony Joshua.
“The aim is to fight three times next year — ideally in March, April or summer then December. In a perfect world, two of the three fights would be for the additional belts — in any order.”
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