Anthony Joshua faces Wladimir Klitschko in nine days’ time in a bout that could go on to define the British heavyweight’s career yet on Wednesday he called a potential bout with sidelined rival Tyson Fury “the biggest fight out there”.
Reigning champion Joshua opened up his training camp at the English Institute of Sport for the first time since he entered it 10 weeks ago and admitted that he had been offended by the insults that his compatriot Fury had aimed at him on social media this week. They included calling Joshua “a poor man’s Frank Bruno” even though he has won all of his 18 fights by stoppage.
Fury has not fought since he won three world titles and The Ring Magazine belt from Klitschko 18 months ago. He had planned to fight Joshua but has been forced to vacate two of the belts, and was stripped of the IBF crown after taking time out to deal with mental-health issues.
“It’s quite disrespectful calling me ‘a poor man’s Frank Bruno’,” Joshua said, before going through his training routine for the media. “I must be so relevant to these people that 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. I’m leading the way.”
When asked who was the biggest fight for him, Joshua said it was Fury. However, when asked if he was expending unnecessary energy on Fury when he should be concentrating on Klitschko, who will not arrive from his training camp in Austria until next Wednesday, Joshua added: “Twitter is about communication and it’s just communicating. Fury 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’. It was a distraction for the five minutes I was on Twitter and then I had to go training.”
Victory over Klitschko, who reigned undefeated for 9½ years until Fury deposed him, would propel Joshua to boxing stardom. However, he denied that he was promoting a future fight with Fury by indulging in the Twitter spat.
“I couldn’t say what his plans are. I’m here as a fighter. I’ve been disciplined, I’ve stayed on track. If it were up to me, that would have been the fight happening this summer. 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. When he returns, I’m sure I’ll still be here. Do I want him to come back? Yes, definitely. But I don’t need Fury, no.”
The Daily Telegraph understands that the referee for the contest with Klitschko for Joshua’s International Boxing Federation title and the vacant World Boxing Association title is expected to be an American, with the camps between them having requested that neither the referee or judges hail from Russia, Ukraine, Britain or Germany. The referee will be named later this week.
The purse will be an equal share of an estimated £20 million, with the event likely to generate £40 million through pay-per-view and the sold-out 90,000-seat gate at Wembley Stadium. It will be the biggest post-war attendance for a world title fight.
Sky Sports Box Office will show Joshua v Klitschko exclusively live. To order go to www.skysports.com/joshua