Britain's Anthony Joshua
LONDON - Anthony Joshua has insisted he remains among the world's leading heavyweights ahead of his return to the ring next weekend.
The British boxer will be back in action on Saturday when he faces Jermaine Franklin of the United States at London's 02 Arena.
The 33-year-old will be bidding for his first win since 2020 after successive defeats by Oleksandr Usyk saw the former Olympic champion lose, and then fail to regain, several versions of the world heavyweight title.
Joshua is no longer in the top three of the WBA, WBO, WBC or IBF rankings.
But his confidence remains intact and when asked who he thinks are the best heavyweights currently in world boxing, Joshua replied Saturday: "Usyk, (Tyson) Fury and myself.
"I rate the rankings. I have been in top 10 for the last how many years? About eight years I have been in the top 10 so I rate them."
He added: It is all about who you fight as well. Rankings are important but you need to fight the big names as well."
Britain's Joe Joyce and Daniel Dubois are ahead of Joshua in both the WBO and WBA rankings, which ought to mean one of them is next in line to fight Usyk.
The Ukrainian was set to face undefeated WBC champion Fury in a unification bout next month.
But the contest appears to have fallen through, for the time being at least, after talks between the two camps broke down.
The collapse of that bout, however, could pave the way for a 'Battle of Britain' contest, with Joshua's promoter Eddie Hearn saying he would be prepared to speak with Fury's management should all go well for his man against Franklin.
But a hugely-anticipated contest has twice failed to become a reality, with negotiations between Hearn and veteran promoter Frank Warren ending in acrimony.
Joshua had no qualms about Fury's standing with the British boxing public, saying: "He's a people's champion. The only competition I need to have with him is in the ring."