World champion, Anthony Joshua, has said he can never accept to box former heavyweight king, Iron Mike Tyson.
Tyson is the name that Anthony Joshua cannot get away from.
Yet this time, it is not just the hot topic of a unification fight with Tyson Fury.
But when you ask the man currently in possession of three of the four major world title belts if he would fight Iron Mike, there is no bluster, no trash talk from AJ — just respect.
Asked if he would step in the ring with the 53-year-old, he smiles and says: “With all due respect I wouldn’t.
“Even if I fought Iron Mike and beat him, I think I’d be the only one cheering. People would boo. He is a legend. He is the greatest boxer of the modern era.
“There are only two recognised champions the world knows of, Ali and Mike Tyson — the most recognised faces in the world when it comes to boxing.”
Respect is a key word in an all-encompassing Sun interview with the British superstar and heavyweight champion.
Mike Tyson is the embodiment of the killing machine, he hits the pads for 15 seconds and the whole world goes crazy… would you be shocked if Beckham came back? You would. But for boxers it’s all they know.
Many boxing fans have labelled American Tyson crazy to talk of a return.
But AJ, 30, added: “I see it like this — how old is David Beckham, 44, 45?
“If you see him in ten years kicking a ball, doing 100 kick-ups, around-the-world and hitting the crossbar and then an overhead volley into the top corner, people would love it.
“But because Mike Tyson is the embodiment of like, the killing machine, he hits the pads for 15 seconds and the whole world goes crazy, it is normal.
“It is what Tyson knows. But for him to fight… would you be shocked if Beckham came back? You would. But for boxers it’s all they know.”
AJ revealed yesterday in his exclusive Sun interview about idolising Tyson as a young man and that watching his videos and shadow boxing in the garden is all the focus he needs.
That incredible self-motivation has taken him to the top and he is the one now idolised by young boxers.
He continued: “It’s an intrinsic motivation and that’s one thing that I’ve got personally.
“I don’t really need to be told, ‘Wake up at nine o’clock’, I’m already awake.
“It’s just one of those things, I don’t know, if you told me to do something, I’m just the character that’ll make sure it’s done to its best capabilities.
“That’s what my mum said to me, ‘You need boxing back’. I’m an active boy.
“Always been that kid. Out in the morning. Just an active person.”
As a heavyweight fighter in a ring with fearsome competitors, he knew a loss could come, even with 22 previous professional wins, 21 of those by knockout.
That it came against the Mexican fighter with a love for Snickers and a frame that showed it, is not something AJ dwells upon.
I am a normal person that happens to box so what I always said to myself is I’m never gonna make boxing all of who I am. So even though it’s a very significant part of my life, when boxing departs one day, I’m not going to crumble with it and I’m gonna be relevant.I always have plans to develop myself as a businessman. Over the next eight years I’m gonna make a transition, not only as a boxer, but a well respected individual, well respected businessman and also someone who’s like a philanthropist where you’re talking about giving back, about different causes.I will have my point where I’ll stand for more than just boxing because at the minute, nobody really cares if I do give back to certain communities. All they wanna know is when am I knocking out Tyson Fury, so I understand that.I have to start thinking of making these last years of transition as well as staying on the top of my game.
He avenged that defeat with a smart points victory in their December rematch and now with a record of 23 wins in 24 fights, the WBA, IBF and WBO title holder is looking forward, not back.
For Joshua, looking forward is pushing to be the undisputed champion and he made no secret of his desire to fight WBC king Fury.
Deontay Wilder, who has a contracted third fight with Fury after the Brit’s stunning win in February avenged their 2018 draw, is also an option for the Watford hero.
That is assuming he beats Kubrat Pulev in the next mandatory challenge, not that Joshua would take that victory for granted.
He said: “Who would I prefer? It would be the current champ, Tyson Fury, every day of the week. It used to be Wilder and now it is Fury.”
And no trash talk here, either, just respect as he added: “And I don’t want to be in that position where I am talking down Tyson Fury.
“He is a great person and he has done great things in boxing but until the day we fight that is where it ends and I don’t have anything else to say about him.
I’m ticking over. It’s my lifestyle. That’s what I did when I was 18. Instead of going to college, I went to the school of boxing.
“I really want the belt and that is where I stand with Tyson Fury.”
Joshua’s fight against Pulev was due to be at Tottenham’s state of the art new stadium on June 20.
That was KO’d by the coronavirus pandemic and talks are underway for getting that fight on as soon as possible — even if it’s in front of a small audience at another venue.
That would be odd for a man who has become a superstar, fills arenas and specialises in getting fans off their feet, as he did in beating the likes of Klitschko, Alex Povetkin, Joseph Parker and Carlos Takam.
All ring fans hope the Fury superfight follows Pulev and AJ knows what that would mean to the boxing-loving British public.
He said: “In terms of boxing coming back, if I was to fight it would probably be November, December.
“But if not, the big fight next year with me and Tyson — it’ll be like a big announcement after all the issues that the country’s faced, with the undisputed champion of the world.”
Joshua knows getting fights on now, especially with the difficulties that are presented with staging huge bouts, is not the No 1 priority.
And yesterday in his first Sun interview he spoke of his praise for NHS workers and his support for our Who Cares Wins awards, backing the country’s unsung heroes.
On the potential Pulev fight later this year, he added: “In boxing there’s no all year round TV rights. It’s just if a fight comes up they speak with Sky, BT, other broadcasters and they have to promote the fight just for that date.
“So I’m not too sure how financially they’re going to hire a venue, ring, stage and lights, doctors. And it’s such an international sport where you need a Spanish referee, a German doctor, and you don’t know how those countries are based around coronavirus at the minute.”
After giving a fascinating insight into his life as a dad and a sportsman in lockdown yesterday, Joshua is not bored… yet.
He said: “I’m ticking over. It’s my lifestyle. That’s what I did when I was 18. Instead of going to college, I went to the school of boxing. I learnt how to fight.
“Just hit the bags, skip and it’s the first time in my whole boxing career where I’ve been left alone.
“Normally I’ve got someone in my ear, telling me what to do, how to do it, and I’ve actually really enjoyed being in that gym on my own. It’s been a blessing.”