Anthony Joshua laughs off claims he's taken a backseat in heavyweight division with Tyson Fury facing Deontay Wilder

Even as the unbeaten three-belt world champion prepares to sell out a vast stadium for the fourth time in 17 months, when he faces Russian Alexander Povetkin at Wembley next Saturday, there are claims Joshua isn’t THE man.

Any day now American WBC king Deontay Wilder is expected to announce his fight against Britain’s ‘lineal’ heavyweight champion Tyson Fury, probably in Las Vegas on December 1.

And it’s that term “lineal champion” which is getting under the skin of Joshua and his promoter Eddie Hearn.

The mythical title has been around since the dawn of the heavyweight and is handed on when a fighter beats the champ. Joshua, of course, holds all the major heavyweight belts other than Wilder’s or that ‘lineal’ one bestowed on Fury.

It means that, in an era of alphabetti spaghetti governing bodies, Fury is “the man who beat the man who beat the man”, as a result of his 2015 victory over Klitschko.


AJ had a customised Range Rover swiped from outside a family  member’s home in London last week.

But Joshua does not think the thieves will be panicking about any retribution from the most feared fighter on the planet.

He said: “It will probably be in another country by now. An African president will be cruising around in my Range Rover! These guys are pros. I was watching something on YouTube about how they do it. It’s crazy — it’s a big industry.

“They’ll strip it apart,  take the number plates, doors and wheels off, then put them on another car.

“It’s an epidemic in London. Life’s about learning —   and I learned that steering locks are important!”

But as Hearn puts it, Fury is “the man who beat the man and who failed a drugs test and did f*** all for years”.

Joshua said: “When did that lineal champion belt come in?

“Good luck to Fury and Wilder but when all’s said and done, I won’t be that geezer in the pub telling war stories about ‘I was the lineal champ’. I am not that type of geezer.

“I am focused on my career and where I’m going. I am content with the moves I’m making. You can’t expect the whole division to go on hold. Fury had his issues and paused for three years.

“The whole division can’t wait, the ball keeps rolling. Charles Martin (former IBF champ) called me out, he wanted to fight me. So I stepped up and fought.

“Klitschko wanted to fight, I fought. But I’m the man. Name a fighter with a better record than me after 22 fights?

“I ain’t got to show anything. History will tell you. History is all that matters.

“Ever since the amateurs, non-stop I have been on top of my game. Look how quick I have done it as well.

“I proved myself time and again. No one could knock the route we’ve taken.

“I’ve  proved myself at the top level. I’ve been in at the deep end. If people aren’t satisfied with it now, they never will be.”

Hearn feels Fury will be flattened by Wilder, ending any hopes of the all-British Joshua-Fury bout fight fans crave. AJ, 28, is less dismissive about the idea of fighting the Fury-Wilder loser.

But the Watford warrior still believes he will end up fighting Wilder —  to become the first undisputed world heavyweight champion since Lennox Lewis, at Wembley on April 13 next year.

Joshua said: “Wembley’s booked again for April 13. God willing I beat Povetkin, and the date’s set. The  negotiations haven’t been completed but it’s quite straightforward. It’s not as complicated as people think to fight Wilder.”

AJ believes he is destined to fight both Wilder and Fury, whichever of those two loses their unbeaten record in December.

He said: “The greatest of the great have taken losses. If Wilder wins or loses it’s still a fight —  belt or no belt.”

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