Former IBF middleweight champion Darren Barker believes that despite concerns over his lifestyle, a fully-fit Tyson Fury is capable of beating Anthony Joshua in a title fight.

The two unbeaten heavyweights have been trash-talking each other on Twitter ever since it emerged that the Britons could face off in 2018.

However, there are some obstacles in Fury's path. The former unified heavyweight champion is currently awaiting a ruling from the UK Anti-Doping body after his boxing licence was revoked by the British Boxing Board of Control (BBBofC) for admitting to cocaine abuse to cope with depression.

BBBofC Chairman Robert Smith later revealed that Fury's legal team need to agree to a date for his hearing to continue in order to expedite a return to the ring.

Another obstacle is Fury's weight as, since his last fight in November 2015, the 29-year-old has considerably gained quite a few pounds and is not in ideal fighting shape.

Barker said, as a result, the "Gypsy King" should ease his training methods as he looks to get fit.

"It's slowly, slowly catchy monkey," Barker said, as quoted by BoxingScene. "There's no date in mind [to face Joshua], as far as I'm concerned. So it's a case of gradually easing him into training.

"If you go in too hard and too fast, then he's going to get injured. Tyson's been there, he's done it and he knows his body. He's not been a stranger to moving up weight even when he was active – he'd often put a load on.

"But it'll be a different kettle of fish now trying to lose seven stone. There's still fire in his belly. Fury is a fighter and he wants what he believes is his. He'll be annoyed he's put on so much weight because it will make life a bit more difficult and it slows the process down."

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Barker added that a fully-fit Fury is more than capable of beating the current heavyweight champion in Joshua, but that his concern is with the way he has lived outside the ring since his last appearance in November 2015. Regardless, he would not bet against the Manchester native.

"My only concern with him, if I'm honest, is the way he's lived outside [the ring]," Barker said. "It's very difficult. I was out for 14 months but it was through injury and I was still trying to do different bits and pieces.

"I just don't know if you can live like that and compete with the likes of Joshua, who is the ideal modern-day heavyweight.

"But one thing with Tyson is he's so mentally strong. If he says he's going to lose seven stone, get in the shape of his life and shock the world like Ali did against Foreman, then you've got to be a mad man to bet against him. He's unbeaten and believes in himself," Barker added.