Anthony Joshua says he would fight Tyson Fury even with no belts on the line and has vowed to “smoke that guy” should they finally meet in the ring.
WBA, IBF and WBO heavyweight champion Joshua had appeared set for a unification showdown with fellow Briton Fury, the WBC title-holder, before a United States arbitrator in May ordered the latter to have a third bout against Deontay Wilder.
That contest is due to take place in Las Vegas in October, rearranged from this month after Fury tested positive for coronavirus, while Joshua is now preparing to face Oleksandr Usyk at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium in September.
Speaking on Gary Neville’s YouTube channel The Overlap, Joshua said when asked if he thought Fury did not want a fight against him: “He’s a fighter isn’t he? What’s the worst that can happen? You get hit. He’s been doing it for years.
“However, I just know on my end, my management team and my promoters, we’ve done everything we can to make this happen, and as long as I’m champion I’ll compete with anyone.”
On meeting Fury regardless of if they win or lose their next fights, Joshua said: “Without the belts? I rate that, I rate that, that’s what I’m talking about.
“We’ll fight 100 per cent, let’s do it. I’ll smoke that guy. I will. It’s annoying.”
He added: “It’s not me. It’s the other side that are letting this down. We are keen, we are ready.”
Asked by Neville if he respected Fury as a man, Joshua said: “I don’t know, I don’t really look at anyone in my industry like that. That’s people I want to just fight.
“I haven’t got no time for none of them. I’m not friends with no-one, they’re all enemies at the end of the day.”
Joshua also gave his thoughts on taking the knee – something he said he would be prepared to do in the ring.
England players made the anti-racism gesture ahead of matches at this summer’s European Championship, which was booed by some fans.
Asked by former England and Manchester United defender Neville for his view on what he had seen in terms of football and taking the knee, Joshua said: “I feel like the players and the teams have done a great job of explaining what the reasons are for taking the knee.
“As a fan, whether you’re there for that, or not, you’re there to watch the team win. The importance of supporting your team-mates and your players – emotionally you’re with them through thick and thin. That’s the whole point of being like ‘I ride for this team’. That’s loyalty.
“The reason that has been explained of them taking a knee is to bring awareness to an issue that’s been going on. Before phones were recording certain incidents, these things were happening. Certain people are aware, some people have learnt more recently. But as I said, it’s nice that the explanation was made clear as to why the knee is being taken.
“This is just for a change for the better. It’s not political, it’s not about defunding anything or funding anything. The change wants to be made for the better. For the betterment of my kids, probably your kids, probably the person down the road’s kids, so harmony is created, because division is going to cause war.”
When then asked if he would take a knee in the ring, Joshua said: “Yeah, 100 per cent I would. I’d take the knee anywhere.”