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.
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 to Press Association Sport 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.”
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 told Press Association Sport he would gladly take on the returning champion.
Bellew said: “To tell the truth, I just want to see him back in a boxing ring. I’d love to be his first fight back because if he meets me it will the quickest comeback in the history of boxing.”
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