AMERICAN HEAVYWEIGHT KEVIN JOHNSON claims time spent in the company of Tyson Fury will serve him well ahead of a proposed April 25 collision with Anthony Joshua - because Fury is considerably better than the former Olympic champion.
Twenty six-year-old Fury fights Christian Hammer on Saturday February 28 at the O2 Arena, live on BoxNation, and Johnson was one of his main sparring partners in camp.
The Atlanta-native couldn't have asked for a better kick-start to his own preparations.
"Anthony Joshua is a tall, long guy, a good boxer with good strength, and Tyson Fury is a tall guy, a better boxer, a smarter guy, with better skills," said Johnson. "In terms of preparation, it doesn't get better than that.
"On a scale of one to ten, I give Fury an eight because he has grown and developed. Peter (Fury) has him working on so many different things and you can see the improvements when he steps into the ring. He's a young kid as well. He won't reach his full potential for another couple of years. That's when he can get to a ten. Joshua is at a three right now."
Johnson, of course, boxed Fury back in December 2012. He lost a unanimous decision after twelve rounds. Since then he has watched the six-foot-nine Englishman improve on a fight-by-fight basis.
"You watch Dereck Chisora against Vitali Klitschko and Chisora looks like an ultimate beast in the ring," said Johnson, "but then you watch Tyson Fury against Chisora and Tyson makes it look easy.
"I see a lot of improvement in Fury. He's not doing what he used to do. Before he'd make stupid decisions and give up his size to come in and trade punches. That would allow the other guy to clip him and drop him at times.
"Now he's boxing and using his height and reach beautifully. That demobilises a lot of opponents before he goes in to land the good blows. As Larry Holmes used to say, 'pick 'em apart from the outside and then, when you go in, lay 'em down.' He's doing that a lot better now.
"If you watch Fury over the last three or four years, you'll see the difference. He's just a lot cleverer now and has cut out the stupid stuff. Peter has calmed him down and has got him to use every one of his physical advantages to make fights that bit easier. I'm impressed. He's definitely good enough to win a version of the world title one day."
Whether Fury's route to the title includes a shot at Wladimir Klitschko or WBC champion Deontay Wilder remains to be seen. The 26-year-old is currently mandatory challenger for Klitschko's WBO strap and a summer date has been mooted, but Johnson also likes the idea of Fury and Wilder getting together at some point this year.
"I've been in the ring with both Tyson and Deontay and that fight would come down to which one of them could take the hardest punch," said 'Kingpin'. "I can't answer that because I've never had the opportunity to take a hard shot from either.
"Which one of them could dig down once that hard shot lands? That would be the guy who wins.
"Deontay is a great boxer, you can't take that from him, but Tyson is a great boxer, too. They're both at a very similar stage right now. It would be great to see them go at it. Both guys can win that fight with one shot and that's exciting for the division."