David Haye has rubbished claims from Vitali Klitschko's manager that he is "afraid" of facing the Ukrainian heavyweight.
The former two-weight world champion has signed up to face Dereck Chisora on July 14 at Upton Park - a grudge match that has been widely derided as it is taking place under a licence from Luxembourg because neither fighter holds a British licence.
And Bernd Boente, who manages both Vitali and his brother Wladimir, said on Monday he had offered a contract to Haye prior to the announcement of the bout between the two Londoners, but claims the Bermondsey fighter turned it down as he was scared of the 40-year-old Ukrainian.
Haye, however, sees things differently and, should he get past Chisora, is targeting a September bout with the WBC heavyweight champion.
"It makes absolutely no sense for me to turn down a fight I desperately want," said Haye.
"Remember, the whole idea behind going ahead with this Chisora fight was that a victory may then lead to a fight with Vitali Klitschko.
"That was my plan, my reason for returning to the ring. I want to fight on July 14 and then again in September, and have been telling people this for months now."
After moving up from cruiserweight, Haye vowed to end the Klitschkos' domination of the sport's marquee division, but he suffered a decisive points defeat to WBA, WBO and IBF champion Wladimir last summer.
Haye is convinced he has the beating of the elder Klitschko, though, and claims Boente's statements are a way for Vitali to save face.
"At this advanced stage in his career, the last thing on Vitali's mind are tough challenges in the ring," Haye added.
"He's essentially semi-retired, which is fine, so long as he comes clean about it. Don't go stringing everybody along - fighters and fans - when some of us know the truth.
"Unfortunately, Vitali will probably now look to fight some no-hoper, while telling the boxing world I turned down the fight.
"I will never turn down a fight with Vitali."
Haye's trainer and manager Adam Booth echoed his charge's comments.
"A few weeks ago I received a first draft contract from K2/KMG (the Klitschkos), as a formal offer for the fight between David and Vitali," said Booth.
"Once we'd announced the Chisora fight I left a message for Shelly Finkel, in which I informed him we were ready to move to completion of the agreement for Vitali versus David. However, since that message was sent to Finkel, I have received no reply.
"Today I read that Herr Boente claims David 'turned the fight down' and 'does not want to fight Vitali'. Both of these claims are completely false. If Vitali wants to fight David in September, we are here and happy to accept. If not, no worries or sadness from our side.
"Maybe K2 realised during Vitali's fight with Chisora in February that their precious champion was drastically slowing down and didn't fancy going up against anyone too quick in the future. Whatever their reasoning, if Herr Boente is happy to spin the lines he feeds people, good for him."Wladimir Klitschko continued the verbal sparring between the two camps, insisting that a fight between his brother and Haye was not on the cards as long as Haye does not hold a British licence.
"There is nothing that could be made," Klitschko told Sky Sports News.
"First of all David Haye was officially retired, he didn't have a licence so there couldn't be any conversation.
"With David Haye, we have been handling a lot for many years, we've heard a lot of nonsense and lies.
"And right now, he's actually getting ready for the Chisora fight."
Wladimir also questioned the decision to stage a British grudge match between Haye and Chisora, who caused such a storm with his antics before during and after his defeat to Vitaly in February.
Haye and Chisora famously brawled in the press conference that followed that fight, and Wladimir added: "It's actually really surprising to me that this fight is happening on British soil. I don't want to promote this fight, but it's happening and I have to make my statement.
"It's sending a bad message: that the worse you behave, the more money you're going to get and you will get known. It's not the right way to do it.
"I'm not saying Chisora shouldn't get another chance, but not right away."