Anthony Joshua has questioned Tyson Fury’s pedigree and status as one of the top heavyweights of his generation.
Joshua and Fury collectively hold all the world heavyweight title belts and have agreed a two-fight deal in principle in an effort to unify the division in 2021.
The unbeaten Fury is considered the favourite for their all-British fight with many believing Joshua will be no match for the Gypsy King.
But in a Q&A with fans for Sky Sports, Joshua questioned why Fury is considered so untouchable as he claimed his reputation is representative of a lack of talent in the top division.
He added that Fury needs to regularly swim in the “deep end” with top class opponents before he can “gain his respect” as a fighter.
Joshua said: “If the sport is lacking so much talent, it just shows that all you need is feints and a bit of movement to be classed as one of the all-time greats of this generation, right?
“That’s why I think that a little bit of hard work, a little bit of motivation, studying, you can overcome that hurdle that is Tyson Fury.
“That’s why I’m trying to wonder what people see in Tyson Fury that he’s so fearful or so intimidating that he can’t be touched at that top level.”
“You know when you’re willing to challenge the best in the division? So his fight was with Wladimir Klitschko, that was his first real challenge and he overcame that.
“I think that took him maybe eight years where he’s turned professional, he’s worked his way up, he’s built his confidence where he finally fought Wladimir Klitschko.
“Then he had some years out, then he fought Deontay Wilder.
“I just think he hasn’t been in the deep end enough to show me that he can swim there for a long in my opinion.
“You have to continuously prove to me that you belong there. You don’t just come there once or twice, you’ve to continuously prove yourself against top level fighters and to me as a fighter that’s how you gain my respect.”