Anthony Joshua says he would still fight former champion Tyson Fury if he was 40 stone.
The world heavyweight No.1, who defends his WBA and IBF world titles against Carlos Takam at the Principality Stadium in Cardiff on Saturday, has not given up hope of an all-English clash with Fury.
Fury (25-0, 18 KOs), however, is out of shape and without a boxing licence. The 29-year-old had his licence revoked in October 2016 after allegations of doping earlier last year and his case has yet to be resolved.
Fury, from Manchester, has not fought since November 2015 when he out-pointed Wladimir Klitschko for the IBF, WBO and WBA world titles. Since then he has admitted to taking cocaine, drinking too much and claims to have had mental health problems.
However, Joshua, 28, is still keen to fight Fury.
“What was his fighting weight, 18 stone? Even if he comes back at 22 stone, George Foreman came back bigger than he was in his prime,” Joshua told reporters at his training base the English Institute of Sport in Sheffield. “If he wants to fight and gets his licence at 30 stone, 40 stone and wants to get in the ring and starts showing that he can move about and he can control that weight that he’s morphed into, people will watch him.
“But if he comes back at that weight and he’s getting in trouble against journeymen, then people won’t be interested. So it’s how he performs at his new weight.”
Eddie Hearn, Joshua’s promoter, is not so certain that a clash with Fury will ever happen.
“You can’t really let people disrupt your plans, and that is the problem with the Fury fight,” said Hearn, who drafted in Cameroon’s France-based Takam at 12 days’ notice after Bulgaria’s Kubrat Pulev pulled out injured.
“If he had a couple of fights and showed that he was actually back in the game, then it might be something to consider.”
Joshua is a big favourite to make a successful defence of his IBF and WBA world heavyweight titles in front of an expected crowd of 78,000 on Saturday after a thrilling stoppage win over former world No. 1 Klitschko in front of 90,000 at Wembley Stadium in April.
Providing there is no shock of epic proportions, Hearn is planning three fights for Joshua in 2018: in March or April, then out again in the summer before another fight in December.
Hearn hopes Joshua will face both WBC titleholder Deontay Wilder, the American who defends his belt against Haiti’s Bermane Stiverne on Nov. 4, and New Zealand’s Joseph Parker, who holds the WBO version of the title.
“In a perfect world, two of the three fights would be for the additional belts, in any order,” said Hearn.
“We’ll have to fight a WBA mandatory next year, whether that’s in February, March or in the summer. But you’d hope that a unification could take precedent.
“Luis Ortiz [who tested positive for banned substances last month] was a problem because there was an exception request from us for a fight, there was a court order, there was all kinds of stuff.
“Apparently he’s six months suspended and we’ll make the decision on our next fight in November.
“Providing everything is OK, the aim is to fight three times next year. We’ve only boxed twice this year, which has worked out OK because the Klitschko fight was huge.
“But ideally, March, April, summer then December. That would be nice.”
After hearing what his promoter had to say, Joshua added laughing: “So actually I think we’ll be fighting Parker and Wilder in 2018.”
Parker (24-0, 18 KOs), 25, looked unimpressive when he out-pointed Tyson’s cousin Hughie Fury in Manchester last month in a second defence of his WBO version of the world title.
“The Titans didn’t clash, so it didn’t create a good, entertaining fight, especially for a heavyweight championship fight,” said Joshua, who lives in north London when he is not training in Sheffield.
“It didn’t add to the stock. But the good thing is he’s still champion and it still bubbles in the background for me at some stage.”
But Hearn says Parker should be prepared to take a smaller slice of the money if he wants to face Joshua, who is earning a reported £15million from fighting Takam.
Hearn added: “If there was 100 percent in that pot, what does Joseph Parker deserve? As WBO champion. Twenty per cent? Yeah, I think 20 is about right.”