DILLIAN WHYTE believes Anthony Joshua is afraid to fight him once again.

The two British heavyweights have been long-term enemies and met in the ring eight years ago. Joshua emerged triumphant in their highly charged battle which threatened to turn nasty early on. A seventh-round stoppage for ‘AJ’ proved he was the better man on the night and with it gave him the British title.

Their careers have gone on different paths since then but talk of a rematch has never been too far away.

Both men have encountered the same opponent in recent months. Jermaine Franklin was in London on two occasions to upset the odds but lost on points twice. The 29-year-old offered little against Joshua on April 1 but had almost caused a shock in November when his efforts pushed Whyte to the limit.

“Joshua and his team told everybody ‘the winner of Whyte and Franklin fights AJ’ — and then they boxed the loser,” said Whyte when speaking to SunSport.

“Joshua’s team are doing interviews saying he beats me in four rounds. But he can’t decide if I’m his dream opponent or his worst nightmare.

“I want the fight. I know that DAZN want the fight, too, because it would be an absolutely huge event. The only problem we all have is Joshua. He has confidence issues and is afraid to take the fight.

“He doesn’t want to risk his retirement payday in Saudi Arabia against [Deontay] Wilder — who is also past his sell-by date.”

Joshua’s promoter Eddie Hearn is yet to confirm whether the former champion will fight this summer or wait until later in the year. Rumours of a blockbuster against Wilder continue to sprinkle themselves over the sport. Should a deal be struck then Joshua and new trainer Derrick James must decide if a fight in between would be beneficial to them or too much of a risk potentially jeopardising something far bigger further down the line.