Tyson Fury and Tony Bellew are in talks over a fight in 2018 as the former world heavyweight champion's potential return to boxing continues to gather pace.

The Mancunian boxer has not fought for two years since beating Wladimir Klitschko in November 2015, centrally due to an anti-doping case that is set to resume next month.

Bellew, meanwhile, is in limbo after his rematch with David Haye was postponed. The Londoner has undergone surgery on a bicep injury, though the fight is still expected to take place next spring.

And the delay has sparked a war of words between the pair on Twitter, which has led to official talks taking place between both camps over a possible meeting next year.

"I believe you will see Bellew vs Fury in 2018 but it won't be the next one," Matchroom chief Eddie Hearn told Sky Sports.

"My plan for Tony Bellew is to beat David Haye then fight Tyson Fury. By the time he beats Haye, the Fury [anti-doping hearing] situation may be in the clear.

"Tony has had discussions with Fury. We have had discussions. I spoke to Fury about that fight. Fury has joined up with [management company] MTK so we will speak to those guys about the fight. It's quite a simple deal but it's about timing of when the fight takes place."

He added: "People want to see Bellew vs Fury. But, what we cannot do, because Tony hasn't fought for nine months, is wait for Fury.

"We can't plan a fight with someone who has a UKAD hearing, and has to go in front of the British Boxing Board of Control.

"Tony believes he has the style to beat Fury. And Fury is not the puncher that Deontay Wilder or Anthony Joshua are. When you go up from light-heavyweight to cruiserweight to heavyweight, your big disadvantage is the punch power.

"Fury is extremely skilled but he is not a big puncher. I'm not saying he isn't a puncher. But he isn't a devastating one-punch knockout artist, like the others. So Tony believes he can beat him."

The major hurdle separating Fury from a return to the ring remains the anti-doping case that has been ongoing since February 2015, when the original tests took place.

The British Boxing Board of Control have confirmed the case will resume in December with UK Anti-Doping having charged Tyson and Hughie Fury with "the presence of a prohibited substance" in June 2016.

A tribunal was held in May 2017 but was halted under orders of UKAD and a resumption date has only recently been ratified between the governing body and lawyers working on behalf of the Fury family.

The suspension of the pair has since been lifted, allowing Hughie to fight for the WBO heavyweight title against Joseph Parker in September, a bout he lost by a majority decision in Manchester.

Fury Sr has since returned to training alongside Ricky Hatton in order to prepare for his imminent return to competitive action next year, with Anthony Joshua and Deontay Wilder among his many targets.

Tyson Fury
Fury has been out of the ring for over two years since beating Wladimir Klitschko. Getty Images