Tyson Fury and Anthony Joshua could still go head-to-head in the ring even if the latter "isn't a champion" because the British public would still "buy into" the occasion, according to promoter Frank Warren.
Fury is set to face Deontay Wilder in Las Vegas on Saturday as they conclude a contentious trilogy, and while the 'Gypsy King' is seen as favourite, he will be well aware of what could happen if he fails to hit top form after seeing Joshua come up short.
Joshua, who was tipped for a long-awaited duel with Fury next year, was beaten by Oleksandr Usyk at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium in September.
With Joshua now having to focus on reclaiming his lost WBA, IBF and WBO titles from Usyk in a rematch that is likely to take place in February, any bout with Fury now looks a long way off.
Though Warren, co-promoter for Fury, is adamant an appetite for the fight will remain even if Joshua does not go into the contest as a champion.
"I do believe the public buys into that fight even if AJ isn't champion," Warren told BBC Sport.
"AJ's said a lot of things since the fight [and] a lot of nonsense from 'doctor' [Joshua's promoter, Eddie] Hearn about his eye. You got beat by the better man on the night and Joshua said that, to his credit.
"Joshua is a big fight. They keep talking about him still learning. He's 32 years old. He's an Olympic champion and world champion.
"Of course, you can still learn every day, but at that level, at 32 years of age, with the experience you've got and the amount of professional fights you've got, if you're not absolutely world class at that level, then you're never going to be.
"But having said that, if he did fight Tyson he would have a lot to prove and I do think the public would buy into it."
Either way, Warren expects Fury to return to fight in the UK for the first time since 2018 regardless of who he fights next after Wilder.
"There's no Americans out there for him to fight. I think he'll be back here which will be a great homecoming," he continued.
"If Tyson wins the fight, we'll sit down. There's a few options there. Usyk would be a massive fight here. The Joshua fight is still a massive fight.
"Dillian Whyte is a big fight, providing he beats Otto Wallin, which isn't a foregone conclusion. There's some big fights for him."