LAST year, rivals Anthony Joshua and Tyson Fury had agreed to spar each other – and it would not have been the first time, either.
Joshua, 30, told the Gypsy King, 32, he would help him prepare to face Deontay Wilder by becoming one of his sparring partners.
AJ's proposition was accepted by Fury who would “love” to have AJ in his training camp – but it never happened.
Now the two are in line to fight for real in an all-British unification fight.
It comes after the heavyweight champions verbally agreed to a two-fight deal for next year.
Joshua and Fury have shared the ring before, in 2010, when the Gypsy King was 22 and preparing to face Derek Chisora for the first time – with Joshua a 20-year-old amateur.
Soon after their spar, in a candid interview with journalist Steve Bunce, Fury admitted Joshua “gave me a beating” for three rounds – and predicted the unified champion’s future stardom.
He said: “He’s very good. To be honest with you, I thought to myself ‘I’m only going to take it easy as he’s an amateur and we probably won’t spar again if I go mad.
“He’s rushed out at me he threw a one-two and left-hook and I slipped, slipped and I thought he’s not very good I’m going to take my time.
“Then bash, he hits me with a big uppercut right on the point of the chin – if I had a bit of a weak chin like David Price I would’ve been knocked out for a month.
“He’s very, very good and only young, 20, watch out for that name Anthony Joshua he is one prospect for the future.
“He came out at me for three rounds and he gave me a beating – I’m not going to deny it, he gave me hell for leather.
“For three rounds I thought ‘Oh my god, an amateur is killing me’.
“Being a professional, and I’ve been an amateur myself and fought all over the world, I slowed him down a bit with a few good body shots.
“The kid's only 20, and I’m a handful myself, so for him to put up a good performance like that against a top prospect in me, I think he’s one for the future.”
AJ explained: “I was just in the gym to avoid getting punched if I was found guilty for one of my court cases.
“Tyson Fury came down, my coach told me this was the guy from the paper and if he is knocked out, you get a Rolex watch.
“I wasn’t even in to Rolex watches back then, I was rocking Casios!
“I was young and we just went to war really. He’s a gypsy warrior, hungry and that’s it – just a good, all out heavyweight sparring session.”
It seems Fury himself had a change of heart about what happened ten years ago.
Speaking to Showtime before he drew against Wilder, the Manchester slickster maintained Joshua had success in the early rounds, but was left squealing from body shots later on.
Fury said: “We’ve had a spar before – amateur boxer he was at the time – he had a good couple of rounds then I started hitting him round the body.
He came out at me for three rounds and he gave me a beating – I’m not going to deny it, he gave me hell for leather.
“He was lifting his legs up in the corner, there were 10 people in the gym who saw it.
“I’m there with my hands down, he’s coming forward with big swings, how’s he going to hit me? I said go on then, put one on me, I’ll stand still.”
Fury even claims he offered to have a street fight with AJ – but the Watford ace “s*** himself”.
He revealed: “He seems pretty spirited, doesn’t he?
“But when I stood face-to-face to him and said, ‘Do you want to get outside?’ His a*** started flapping.
“He s*** himself.
“It doesn’t matter what weight I was at the time, I wasn’t in shape, but I’d have took him outside and kicked his c*** right in for him.
“If a man said that to me – I don’t care if I was unfit or not – he’d be outside and punches. We’d have had to have a fight. Simple.
“But I said that to him and he didn’t want to know.”
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