WBO middleweight champion Billy Joe Saunders has warned that Tyson Fury could "sink into the soil" if his boxing licence is taken away from him. The British Boxing Board of Control is poised to meet to discuss Fury's situation after the heavyweight champion recently confessed to taking cocaine.

Fury, 28, withdrew from a scheduled rematch against former world champion Wladimir Klitschko for a second time last month, with his team saying the controversial heavyweight was "medically unfit" to fight. And subsequently, Fury admitted to suffering from depression since winning the titles in November last year.

Now, Saunders has warned the British Boxing Board of Control of the dangers of taking Fury's boxing licence away from him. "He has been brought up since a young kid doing this," Saunders told the Victoria Derbyshire programme. "If you take it away from him, he will not look for a daily job in Tesco's."

Saunders said that Fury, his long-time friend, needed boxing in order to survive at the moment. "It is a big mistake, taking his boxing licence away. It is like taking food from a baby," the middleweight said. "He needs the licence to pull through."

During his candid interview with Rolling Stone magazine last week, Fury admitted to turning to drink and drugs since becoming the heavyweight champion. But according to Saunders, Fury's recent excesses are the result of his depression.

"People say he has done this because he wanted a good time," he said. "You are not going to walk away from six million quid to 10 million quid [Fury's expected purse for a rematch with Ukrainian Klitschko] for something stupid, for one night. It is bad depression."

Fury – who is a member of the traveller community – claimed recently that there has been a "witch-hunt" against him since he dethroned Klitschko last November. "It's been a witch-hunt ever since I won that world title," he said.

"Ever since I got a bit of fame for doing good there's been a witch-hunt on me because of my background, because of who I am and what I do, there's hatred for travellers and gypsies around the world. Especially in the United Kingdom."

The outspoken champion also admitted he has not trained for months because of his ongoing mental health problems. "I've not been in a gym for months. I've not been training. I've been going through depression," Fury shared.

"I just don't want to live anymore, if you know what I'm saying. I've had total enough of it. They've forced me to the breaking edge. Never mind cocaine. I just didn't care. I don't want to live any more. So cocaine is a little minor thing compared to not wanting to live anymore."