Deontay Wilder offered a message of support to Tyson Fury, but still wants to face the Briton following their confrontation in January.
Fury leapt into the ring for a verbal showdown with the unbeaten American, who had just defended the WBC heavyweight belt against Artur Szpilka.
Last month, Fury voluntarily vacated his WBO and WBA belts due to a battle with depression and he has not fought since dethroning Wladimir Klitschko 12 months ago.
Wilder offered his sympathy to Fury, but insists a future meeting in the ring remains on the cards.
“May God be with him, and I look forward to the return of Tyson Fury because we didn’t promote that fight all year for nothing, trust me,” Wilder told Sky Sports. “That one’s got to happen, whether he’s got a belt or not.
“I hope to see Tyson back in the ring, and I think he will return. I have prayed for his recovery.
“He’s a great guy. You’ve got to understand a person – where they came from, and where they’re trying to go.
“Sometimes people can come off harsh, especially when they’re trying to prove stuff, especially in this sport. You’ve got to be a certain type of character sometimes.
“But sometimes guys will build a certain type of character, then they can’t turn it off. You’ve got to know how to turn that switch off.
“You’re not that type of person, but when you try to build yourself and promote things, it may seem that way.
“You’re only human, and a human can only take so much battering and disrespect from millions and millions of people. You’re only one person and you can’t battle the world.”
Wilder also hit out at Fury’s critics, adding: “People have to learn to back off sometimes. Half of the people don’t mean what they say – they want to be relevant, they want their voice to be heard.
“They want you to respond because they’re big fans of yours and they want attention.”