Wladimir Klitschko dismissed Anthony Joshua on Wednesday as a fighter made confident with "big muscles" who is "raw" and could go on to be "a crossfit world champion" as the former world heavyweight champion gave a brazen appraisal of the 27-year-old champion who will defend his IBF title in his first genuine challenge at Wembley Stadium in three and a half weeks time.
These were the first barbs aimed at Joshua from Klitschko in the build up to this event from the Ukrainan's tyrolean training camp.
The 41-year-old, who reigned over the heavyweight division unbeaten for nine and a half years until he was beaten on points by Tyson Fury, now exiled from the sport through mental health issues, in November 2015, painted a confident picture from his camp yesterday.
Asked to assess Joshua's skills, Klitschko responded: "AJ has a lot of energy, he's young, he wants to show it. He has these big muscles that give him confidence. He wants to demolish people right in front of him. Those muscles give him a lot of confidence."
Klitschko, who goes into his 29th world title fight in front of 90,000 fans at the national football stadium, added deliberately: "But did you hear about boxing? It's the sweet science. Boxing is the sweet science, the ice is thin. The most vicious boxers were conquered. There was one boxer, Kimbo Slice, he was unstoppable, he was knocking everybody out."
"Then one guy came out and took him down. Kimbo was really strong."
Klitschko added: "I have a lot respect for Anthony and what he's doing. His commitment and physical ability, he can box, he can lift weights, he's strong. He can be a cross-fit world champion, actually. I think he has great capability. I believe he could do it. There are a lot of boxers doing it, but cross-fit is not boxing."
Asked if Joshua could be making a mistake facing him now, the former champion added: "The opportunity is now, everything has its time. I don't want to hear,'oh it was too early for him or that Klitschko is over the hill'. He wants to become a billionaire, which is a great ambition. The question is before the tax or after the tax?"
"But it's a challenge with a lot of question marks, I'm looking forward to it. I think it's going to be a great event. I hope both fighters get through it injury free, so there are no other issues."
Klitschko also believes that Joshua is "raw". "Look, I'm very critical of myself, probably the most critical man in the team. At 41, I'm still raw (in some ways). He is in a certain way. He's improved, he's accelerated a lot, but he's still raw."
- Sky Sports Box Office will show Joshua v Klitschko exclusively live on 29 April. To book go to www.skysports.com/joshua