Tyson Fury has scheduled his first fight in over two-and-a-half years for June 9 at the Manchester Arena, against an unconfirmed opponent.
The unbeaten heavyweight has not boxed since ending Wladimir Klitschko’s reign as world champion in November 2015.
But Fury was soon stripped of the IBF belt and relinquished the WBA and WBO versions amid mental health issues.
More recently Fury accepted a backdated ban from UK Anti-Doping, which ended last December, and has successfully reapplied for his licence with the British Boxing Board of Control, paving the way for a comeback.
The three titles once held by Fury now belong to Anthony Joshua, who has won seven fights since his rival last competed, unifying the belts against Joseph Parker last month.
“It’s going to be an easy fight, no contest,” Fury said about facing Joshua. “He is looking for one punch all night. Anybody who can move a little bit, and throw feints, he struggles with. He can’t land.
“I’ve got a tip for him – get a handful of rice and throw it at me, if he wants to land anything. I’d outbox him for a few rounds then knock him out. He’s not the hardest man in the world to hit. He’s smaller than I am, and I don’t believe he holds the best shot.
“I’m the fittest I’ve ever been. Timing, reflexes, everything is better than it’s ever been. I kid you not.
“Everything is still there – 29 years old, coming into the prime of my life, I’m stronger and faster, holding more muscle mass than ever. I’m more confident looking at the competition.”
Joshua’s immediate focus is on claiming Deontay Wilder’s WBC title, and he told Sky Sports this week: “We offered them a lucrative deal and we are just waiting to hear if he’s serious or not.”
American TV giants Showtime, who broadcast Joshua and Wilder’s fights stateside, have lent their backing to a potential undisputed title fight.
“If we can help mediate, we will,” Showtime head Stephen Espinoza told Sky Sports this week. “We have offered that. We are a key element of the negotiation.”
But Joshua has regularly mentioned Fury as a dream opponent and addressed his rival’s absence soon after beating Parker.
“Until he makes his return to the ring, I cannot sit down and wait patiently at home for Tyson Fury’s return,” Joshua told Sky Sports. “I have a career and goals I want to achieve so I am focusing on what I am doing.
“When he gets himself together… boxing fans are awaiting his return.
“He has to get himself back in action and worry about what he is doing, rather than sitting at home commentating on my fights.
“He should be getting a bit of motivation and hunger back in the belly to get training and get back in the ring because realistically, people don’t want to see a commentator. They want to see a fighter fight.”