Anthony Joshua is seemingly open to facing Tyson Fury if he gets past Jermaine Franklin - and insisted his British rival "needs him".
Former two-time heavyweight champion Joshua, 33, makes his UK return on Saturday when he fights Franklin at The O2 arena. 'AJ' will look to win his first fight in over two years after suffering back-to-back defeats to Oleksandr Usyk - and the Brit has welcomed a fight with Fury following his undisputed heavyweight title fight against Usyk falling through last week.
Joshua told reporters of potentially facing Fury: “There’s no better time! I feel like now with Fury, provided the Usyk doesn’t happen and he doesn’t fight anyone in between, I think he needs me at the minute. He's been a great champion, he's given us a lot of entertaining commentary and fights with Deontay Wilder."
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Joshua and Fury were booked to meet in an undisputed clash of their own in August 2021, but the fight was cancelled after Wilder won an arbitration case that saw him fight Fury for the third time. Joshua went on to lose his belts against Usyk later that year whilst Fury decisively knocked out Wilder for the second time. A short-notice meeting between Fury and Joshua was also targeted for last December, but the fight fell through yet again.
"We've tried to make that fight three times," Joshua added. "That [second one] was signed and sealed, I was actually training for that and then it fell through. Then we had this recent one where I just lost and he gave me a deadline. I took it and told Eddie 'Let's look at the situation' but it was difficult when someone is dictating you and put you under that amount of pressure but I understand his frustration."
Joshua's promoter Eddie Hearn agrees with his fighter's comments and thinks it's the right time to make Fury vs Joshua. The Matchroom Boxing boss recently laid out his 2023 plan for 'AJ', which didn't include a fight with Fury, but admitted that if Joshua gets past Franklin the all-British grudge fight could be a possibility.
"I think it's the time to make that fight, sometimes things just come together. I think it's one to work away at in the background and see if it's got legs, but when you think of Fury's options they are very limited. In terms of the money he wants to make," Hearn told Boxing Social.