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Anthony Joshua says his career will be incomplete without one of these two fights

Former two-time WBA, WBO and IBF heavyweight champion Anthony Joshua 26-3 (23) says his career will be incomplete if he is forced to retire without having faced reigning WBC heavyweight champion Tyson Fury 33-0-1 (24) or former champion Deontay Wilder 43-2-1 (42).

British rivals Joshua and Fury have long been linked to a bout that is yet to come to fruition. Saudi funding for a proposed fight against American puncher Wilder, 37, has dried up, leaving Joshua’s promoter Eddie Hearn looking for a new home for the fight.

It’s a frustrating situation for Joshua, who just wants to fight the best.

“If I don’t fight Fury or Deontay Wilder, one of those two, then yes,” the 34-year-old Joshua said to Men’s Health. “But I’m not waiting around until I’m 40. I can’t drag my career out waiting. In between waiting, I will have to do more fights, more training camps, more pressure.”

But the 35-year-old Fury – who will face former UFC heavyweight champion and boxing debutant Francis Ngannou in a 10-round non-title bout next – says Joshua has nothing to offer him.

“I don’t really care what he says, he’s a bum in my opinion,” Fury said to The Daily Mail. “He’s just a big bum dosser who’s been knocked out and had three losses.

“You can’t even compare him to me anymore, it’s not even a fight, I don’t even look forward to fighting him, it’s not a fight anymore. I’m not interested. The bubble has been burst.

“It’s not so much interesting for me to beat AJ anymore. He’s already been beat, he’s been spanked by [Oleksandr] Usyk twice and knocked out by a fat man so it’s not of my interest to beat him.

“I’m fighting a guy who’s in his prime, who’s a champion, who’s bigger than him, stronger than him and who’s a bigger knockout puncher than him in Ngannou. Get to the back of the queue. The fight is off the cards, it’s gone, dead. The fight was off the cards when he got beat.”

Joshua’s promoter Eddie Hearn said that while Fury is notoriously difficult to deal with, he believes the fight with the 2012 Olympic Gold Medalist will eventually get made and net both boxers in the vicinity of £100m each.

“I think when you talk about that fight specifically, there are a few different reasons,” Hearn said to The Overlap. “Number one is Fury is an enigma, but he’s also mad and quite up and down – he is going to do what he wants to do.

“And, secondly, you have the broadcast situation. AJ is with DAZN, Fury is with BT and before that AJ was with Sky. Everybody wants it exclusively on their channel.

“Fury comes in and says I want 50/50 when he isn’t the champion, then he wants it 60/40 when is the champion. When the money is there and two guys want the fight, nine times out of 10 it will happen.”