Tyson Fury has insisted Anthony Joshua will never be further from his mind than when he returns to the ring for the first time in two-and-a-half years at the Manchester Arena on Saturday night.
Morecambe’s former world heavyweight champion has shed almost eight stone in preparation for his comeback bout which it is intended will ultimately pave the way for a showdown with Joshua, who beat Wladimir Klitschko to claim the world title belts Fury was forced to relinquish.
With Joshua targeting a unification showdown against Deontay Wilder, the feeling in Fury’s camp is that he retains the lineal title, having not fought since his own win over Klitschko in Dusseldorf in November 2015.
“I don’t need to send any more messages - they know the message, and the message is I’m back,” said Fury, who faces Albanian Sefer Seferi on his return.
“It’s not about how you perform against your next opponent because every opponent is different. I’m going to get in there and enjoy myself and just enjoy my comeback.”
The respective trajectories of Fury and Joshua have gone in starkly different directions since Dusseldorf, with Fury battling well-publicised problems out of the ring while Joshua’s career went stratospheric.
Questions inevitably remain over Fury’s ability to retain his former status after such a remarkable weight-loss, but there is no doubt that he has showed glimpses of his old self during over 300 rigorous rounds of sparring.
Fury added: “I feel better by the day and I’ve never felt better than I do now - I’m faster, sharper and I’ve got more power.
“It’s no secret that when I was world champion I fell out of love with the game but now we’re back in a relationship and we’re going to spice it up.”
The 39-year-old Seferi seems a good choice for Fury’s comeback, bringing undoubted punch power with 21 stoppage wins from his 24 fights, although his only defeat came on his solitary move up to heavyweight against world-ranked Manuel Charr in September 2016.
Fury added: “I picked him because he’s tough and strong, he’s got a lion’s heart and he will come to win.
“I don’t feel nervous at all. I’ve been a goldfish trapped in a tank, and now I’m getting released back into the river.
“It’s been a rollercoaster of a few years and it’s just great to be back.”