Dillian Whyte angrily dismissed the idea that he was a ‘wounded lion’ ahead of his fight with Jermaine Franklin on Saturday in London.
Security pulled Whyte away from a confrontation after he clashed with Franklin promoter Dmitry Salita.
Franklin’s trainer Jesse Addison called Whyte an “injured lion wandering the jungle” at a press conference on Thursday.
Whyte fired back, imitating the American and insisted “the fire never starts”.
The heavyweight rivals face off at the OVO Arena, Wembley on Saturday night in a crucial encounter for both men.
Franklin, 29, is undefeated in 21 fights but relatively unrecognized as one of the top heavyweights as he has yet to fight a seasoned contender.
Whyte, 34, fights for the first time since he was stopped by Tyson Fury in their fight for the WBC world heavyweight title in April.
“We’ll just finish it off”
Franklin took a back seat at the press conference, saying little when called and Whyte followed his opponent’s lead during his time on the microphone, saying he had no intention of “under -estimate” his adversary.
It wasn’t until Addison had a second chance to speak that tensions began to escalate rapidly.
“Sound lions will destroy [Whyte]“, Addison said.
“This man is the healthy lion. He’s been knocked out twice in his last three fights, he’s a wounded lion.
“This guy is undefeated. We’re just going to finish him off.”
Salita’s comments prompted Whyte to heckle the American, telling him to “shut up” and mocking his accent.
Whyte was visibly inflamed by the charge on his best days after behind him following losses to Fury, Alexander Povetkin and Anthony Joshua.
And tensions boiled over in the usual confrontation when Salita got involved in the verbal exchanges.
Whyte and Salita shoved each other causing security to rush in and separate the two teams, though again Franklin showed no signs of emotion, almost completely oblivious to the insults flying around him.
Eddie Hearn said afterwards that Salita was urging Franklin to tell Whyte he would knock him out and that’s what sparked the angry reaction.
A win for Whyte will see him aiming for a rematch with longtime rival Joshua, who will have his own comeback fight early next year.
“I’m still a predator at the end of the day,” Whyte said of his comeback.
“I’ve always been outside, even when I was at the top of my game. I’m used to it. My fire never goes out. I don’t think it will ever go away. “