AFTER recently engaging in a war of words on Twitter with fellow British heavyweight star Tyson Fury, IBF titlist Anthony Joshua has opened up about his simmering rivalry with the currently out-of-action former world champ.
At a media session held at the English Institute of Sport in Sheffield – where he is currently training for his April 29 Wembley Stadium superfight with ex-Fury victim Wladimir Klitschko – Joshua was asked what the biggest fight out there for him is. He only mentioned the name of one man in his response: “I think Tyson Fury, I think Tyson Fury.”
The pair clashed on social media after Fury branded Joshua “a poor man’s Frank Bruno”, referring to the former British heavyweight icon who some have compared to Anthony due to their similarly muscular physiques. Joshua did not take kindly to Tyson’s comment.
“It’s quite disrespectful,” Anthony said. “If he’s an all-time great, [as he says he is], then why is he worrying about who is behind him? You should focus on your future. I must be so relevant to these people who are in front of me. I just find it so disrespectful. He calls himself the greatest of all time, the GOAT. If I was the GOAT I would never worry about who is behind me, [because] I’d be leading the way.”
Some observers have questioned whether Joshua was right to get involved in a Twitter spat with Fury so close to his massive upcoming clash with Klitschko, but “AJ” quashed any suggestions that he is distracted ahead of his IBF and (vacant) WBA title fight at the end of this month.
“Twitter is about communication, and it’s just communicating,” Joshua stated. “He addresses me and tweets me quite often, and I was just in the frame of mind where I thought, ‘Me and Klitschko don’t have much verbals, so let me respond to Fury.’ For those five minutes I was [distracted], and then I had to go to training. But I would have gone back and forth [with him].”
While it is not yet known whether Fury will return to the sport after well-publicised issues outside the ring, Joshua wants to see him back in action again soon. In fact, he had originally hoped to be sharing the squared circle with Tyson this year.
“If it were up to me, that would have been the fight happening this summer,” Joshua revealed. “That’s what I thought. I was planning for a massive showdown with Tyson Fury, but he had other plans and I just had to carry on.
“I couldn’t say what his plans are. I’m not going anywhere. I’m here as a fighter. I’ve been disciplined, I’ve stayed on track. When he returns, I’m sure I’ll still be here. Do I want him to come back? Yes, definitely.”
With Fury having toppled Klitschko prior to his hiatus from boxing, even if Joshua defeats Wladimir in their fight, some have suggested that Anthony will have to beat Tyson before he can rightfully lay claim to the heavyweight throne. However, despite his wish to face Fury in the future, Joshua is adamant that this is not imperative for him to cement his standing in the sport. He declared: “I don’t need Fury, no.”
Elaborating more on his feud with Fury, Joshua believes that Tyson will not take him up on his offer of a ringside seat for his bout with Klitschko – “I don’t expect him to come” – and he also feels that a contest with Fury would have a spicier build-up than his meeting with Klitschko has so far – “I think so.”
To round off the interview, when asked by a reporter whether he would take pleasure in “giving Fury a pasting”, Joshua simply replied with a booming laugh, “Would you?!”