Anthony Joshua has refused to rule out the prospect of a world heavyweight title clash with British rival Tyson Fury despite the former champion’s travails.
Fury has not fought since beating Wladimir Klitschko to win the IBF, WBA and WBO titles in December 2015 after being handed a drugs ban and then being stripped of his licence by the British Boxing Board of Control (BBBoC).
Earlier this month, the 29-year-old Fury said he would not reapply to the BBBofC for the right to fight again, further reducing the chances of a return.
But Joshua, who defends his IBF and WBA titles against late replacement Carlos Takam in Cardiff on Saturday, has left the door open to a fight with Fury.
“What was his (Fury’s) fighting weight — 18 stone (114 kilograms)? Even if he comes back at 22 stone, (George) Foreman came back bigger when he was in his prime,” Joshua said.
“If he wants to fight and gets his licence at 30 or 40 stone — if he wants to get in the ring and he shows he can move about and control that weight, people will watch him.
“But if he comes back at that weight and he’s getting into trouble against journeymen, then people won’t be interested. So it’s how he performs at his new weight.”
Joshua is aiming to unify the heavyweight titles.
A fight with WBO champion Joseph Parker – who beat Fury’s cousin Hughie in Manchester last month – is set for early next year, as well as a WBA mandatory bout before a prospective clash with reigning WBC king Deontay Wilder.
Joshua shook up the sport with the manner of his win over Klitschko and his promoter Eddie Hearn stressed his charge would not accept unreasonable demands for the sake of unifying the belts.
Hearn said: “We wouldn’t be held to ransom for a belt. (Kubrat) Pulev or Takam are fine for his defence of the title after Klitschko, but if it was someone like (Fres) Oquendo, we could say, ‘no-one wants to watch that fight’.
“The aim is to fight three times next year – ideally in March, April or summer then December. In a perfect world, two of the three fights would be for the additional belts – in any order.”
For a sport built on personality and individualism, modern boxing has its fair share of stereotypes.
Take for example, the fashion. There’s a discernible style to most world champion pugilists, from the slick shades and jewellery to the designer footwear and clothing.
It all works to form part of a celebration of their achievements in the sport, a statement to trumpet their success. And one large part of the stereotypical ensemble is the watch.
Now, the watch comes in many shapes, sizes and styles but they all work to illustrate flamboyance and, ultimately, wealth. Floyd Mayweather is perhaps the most obvious endorsement of this given some of the quite ludicrously iced-out timepieces he’s flaunted on social media.
But the watch also creates a conventional image which draws a certain slant about that fighter – bold, brash, arrogant, cocky and any other exaggerated trait you want to use.
Rio Ferdinand took the sporting world by surprise on Tuesday by announcing his attempt at a professional boxing career. The former Manchester United and England defender has included boxing as part of his fitness regime for a few years, and is now set to go one step further.
Here’s a look at five other stars who made a switch to boxing after excelling in other sports.
Given he is the son of a former boxer, Mundine’s move into the ring was largely unexpected. Having conquered the NRL, he stepped into the ring in 2000 and has amassed an impressive 47-8 record and held the WBA super middleweight title for five years between 2003 and 2008 as well as the IBO middleweight strap. His most famous victory was over former pound-for-pound king ‘Sugar’ Shane Mosley in 2013.
Rugby’s man of many talents made his pro debut in 2009, beating Garry Gurr via TKO. The two-time World Cup winner has gone to win a further six bouts at heavyweight, with two knockouts. Williams has claimed boxing has made him a “mentally tougher” sportsman as he’s managed to balance both his sporting loves.
Following in the bootsteps of Sonny Bill Williams, Cooper fought on the undercard of his friend in 2013 beating Barry Dunnett at cruiserweight via a first round knockout. The mercurial fly-half now boasts a 3-0 record having despatched Aussies Warren Tresidder and Jack McInnes, although has received criticism for the quality of his opponents who have either been no-hopers or washed-up veterans.
The former England all-rounder enjoyed success in his one and only bout – beating American Richard Dawson after being knocked down in the second round – but it was branded it a “a circus” and “laughing stock”. Flintoff’s celebrity status ensured his fight received considerably more publicity than other, more seasoned, British fighters.
With her figure skating career in tatters after the attack on rival Nancy Kerrigan in the lead up to the 1994 Winter Olympics, Harding took to the ring in 2002 in a celebrity boxing event before turning pro in 2003 on the undercard of a Mike Tyson fight. Harding lost a split decision against Samantha Browning but fought six more times in the space of just 16 months finishing with a 4-3-0 record as asthma forced her to retire.