ANTHONY JOSHUA "lost faith" in boxing after his fight with Tyson Fury collapsed and did not return this year after being left "p***** off."
AJ was in talks with his heavyweight rival for a December 3 title bout until talks broke down.
Fury, who set several public deadlines for the fight to be agreed, later signed to face Derek Chisora in a trilogy bout.
It left Joshua without an opponent and unmotivated to return until next year.
Promoter Eddie Hearn told Boxing Social: "He just sort of lost faith a little bit with boxing because he really wanted to fight Tyson Fury.
"That’s the main reason that he didn’t fight this year. He was just pissed off.
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"You know, he [Fury] got his bluff called really, we feel. What are these people doing?
"They say they want to fight me, now I’ve got a deadline, Chisora gets another month to do the deal, and I had to sign it then.
"So, that’s why you’re going to see him [Joshua] fight maybe the end of February, but probably March."
Joshua, 33, has suffered consecutive losses to Oleksandr Usyk, 35, leaving him ready to take some time off.
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Usyk ruled himself out of a unification with Fury, 34, until next year having returned to his war-torn home of Ukraine for the first time.
So Chisora, 38, will instead challenge the WBC champion, despite his pair of one-sided loss in 2011 and 2014.
He was only given the shock title shot when negotiations between Joshua and Fury failed.
Hearn said in a Q&A in Abu Dhabi: "Basically what happened is Anthony Joshua lost to Oleksandr Usyk. We all saw that mentally that was a very tough defeat for him.
"Tyson Fury does what Tyson Fury does and came out on Instagram and stuck the bait out for AJ and called him out.
"And AJ told him, 'I want the fight.' Should he have accepted the fight? Maybe not at that moment.
"But ultimately, he's the boss and he wanted to fight Tyson Fury. We started negotiations with Queensberry, which actually went quite well.
"But as things are going well, all of a sudden, Tyson Fury pops up on Instagram and says we've got to sign the contract by the end of the day.
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"He's a bit backwards and forwards at the moment.
"And I think people over the last couple of weeks have just seen, maybe, a different side to him."
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