Heavyweight champion Anthony Joshua has said that he does not respect Tyson Fury, but that the former world heavyweight champion is “welcome to enter a ring” with him.
Fury accepted a backdated two-year ban for testing positive for a banned steroid in February 2015 and can fight again pending a return of his licence.
“What we are achieving as heavyweight champions is phenomenal,” Joshua told BBC Radio 5 live’s Sportsweek. “But for someone in my own industry to discredit it, I can’t respect that person.”
Fury’s last fight saw him beat Wladimir Klitschko in 2015 to claim the WBA, IBF and WBO titles.
It came before a legal battle with UK Anti-Doping (Ukad) for a positive test he blamed on eating uncastrated wild boar.
In October 2016, he gave up his titles to focus on mental health problems and the British Boxing Board of Control (BBBofC) suspended his licence “pending further investigation into anti-doping and medical issues”.
In the meantime, Joshua has become WBA, IBF and IBO heavyweight champion, although Fury mocked him in May by saying he “could come back with no comeback fights and still box rings around that body builder”.
“I don’t respect him,” said Joshua. “I don’t have much respect for many boxers in the heavyweight division. It’s not an act with me. I’m being honest. I used to. I used to say very nice things.
“If I speak well of Tyson Fury and say ‘what he’s achieved is so hard and I respect him’ it builds the credibility of the heavyweight championship belt up.
“But when Tyson Fury says ‘Anthony Joshua is a bum’ and ‘look at him, he’s struggling against this opponent’ it discredits everything I’ve achieved.”
Joshua says a unification bout against WBO champion Joseph Parker is “95%” complete for the end of March and called another possible rival for next year in WBC champion Deontay Wilder a “big mouth”.
On a possible bout with Fury, he said: “He is a lively opponent when he is fit.
“He has his own battles and demons to face and once he has got over them he’s more than welcome to enter a ring with me. It’s something we should be focusing in on 2018.
“With all due respect to Tyson Fury, it would be wise if his handlers got him a few fights. Get the body ticking over again and get that love for the sport back. Get a few wins under the belt and then we can get it cracking.”