Anthony Joshua has backed Tyson Fury to defeat Deontay Wilder, insisting his fellow Brit can “hurt or out-box” the American.
Fury will challenge Wilder for the WBC heavyweight championship on February 22 in Las Vegas, before Joshua is expected to defend the IBF, WBA and WBO titles against Kubrat Pulev with the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium as the likeliest venue.
Asked about his rivals’ rematch, Joshua exclusively told Sky Sports: “Wilder coming through is better because [a fight with me] is what people have been eagerly anticipating.
“But I think Fury can win. For Wilder to win he has to knock Fury completely out, and he couldn’t do that the first time.
“For Fury to win, he can hurt Wilder or out-box him. Fury has more to his arsenal so that’s why I’m leaning to him.
“Fury can punch a bit. He’s underestimated with his punching power which makes him dangerous. If you underestimate someone it makes them dangerous because you don’t respect them until you get hit.
“Fury is a really good boxer, to a certain degree, so he has the upper hand. Wilder isn’t the best of boxers but he has a right hand – if you can avoid that, you have the beating of him.
“Good luck to Fury – it would be great to have two heavyweight champions here in England.”
Joshua insisted he still wants to crown an undisputed champion in 2020: “I’m still clawing after the last belt that’s out there. I know I’ll get my hands on it eventually.”
He said about becoming a two-time champion: “I don’t want to do what Andy Ruiz Jr did, and lose it straight away. I want to hold it for a number of years.
“Trust me, a different beast has been awoken.”
Joshua had previously claimed he could make a “curveball offer” to fight the winner of Wilder and Fury’s rematch, tempting them away from a third fight with each other.
Promoter Eddie Hearn told Sky Sports on Wednesday a deal would be easier to make with Fury than with Wilder.
“Wilder said he has no interest in Joshua, and Joshua is irrelevant. That is baffling,” Hearn said.
“That’s why I want Fury to win because I know he’s up for it! One phone call with me, (Fury’s US-based promoter) Bob Arum and (Fury’s management) MTK.
“AJ wants to fight Fury, Fury wants to fight AJ. It’s a two-minute call with MTK and Bob Arum, done deal.
“But I’m not sure who will win [Wilder vs Fury 2]. The comments worry me that we’re in the same position.
“The winner of that fight will be under so much pressure to fight Joshua that, this time, it will be unavoidable.
“The curveball is in terms of; those guys are preparing for their (third fight) and we have an opportunity in place that we can present to the winner to move them away from [a third fight],” Hearn explained.
“If the loser wants [a third fight] then we’re tied.”
Wilder and Fury battled to a draw when they first met in December 2018. – Sky Sports