Wladimir Klitschko sent a chilling warning to David Haye today: "People have been handicapped and people have died in boxing - it's not something you joke about".
Londoner Haye, Britain's WBA heavyweight champion, stops at nothing to promote himself and his fights and is known as much for his tasteless talking as his undoubted pugilistic ability.
The 30-year-old has added to that reputation in the build-up to Saturday's long-awaited unification clash with IBF/WBO champion Klitschko, pushing the boundary again at today's final press conference by promising a "brutal execution" of his Ukrainian rival.
Klitschko has kept his cool throughout and has vowed to teach Haye some respect in Hamburg on Saturday.
He told Press Association Sport: "I'm a very lucky person in that I am healthy enough to perform. "No matter what, it is disgraceful and disrespectful for a man to wish to damage your health.
"This game, this sport, is very intense and unfortunately there have been a lot of cases where people have been handicapped and people have died during and after fights.
"It's not something you can joke about to promote yourself. It's something you do not say. I felt embarrassed at the way David Haye acted in the press conference. Because it also casts a shadow on the sport.
"I just feel an obligation to give him some rehabilitation on July 2 because it will make him a better person.
"It's very important to put his feet back on the ground. I think with all the wins that he got recently he became really cocky and totally big-headed.
"I'm angry for the last three years but it has transformed into concentration and motivation now."
The 35-year-old, widely recognised as the world's leading heavyweight, added: "I definitely wish good health to David Haye. I hope that after this fight he does not end up in hospital, that he won't be handicapped or whatever.
"It's not funny or cool. It was stupid to mention things like that.
"I feel an obligation as Dr Klitschko to treat him. It's going to be 'Reality Rehab' - because it's on television - for David Haye and I believe it's going to make him a better person.
"It's going to be a reality TV rehabilitation from Dr Klitschko."
At a press conference today, Haye had drawn gasps in some quarters with his talk of an execution.
Addressing the assembled media, he said: "Here we are, this is it. A lot of people didn't think it would get this far and thought I would pull out with an injury or something.
"But I'm here. I'm in tremendous shape and I'm ready to do what I always promised I'd do.
"Wladimir is in great shape, he's mentally prepared and for me that's tremendous. It's going to be fun to watch this big robot start malfunctioning. That's exactly what's going to happen.
"I'm healthy, my speed is ridiculous, my punch power is there and I'm in a really good place.
"This is going to be the most brutal execution of a boxer that you've seen for many, many years. I'm going to go out there and absolutely destroy him, really quickly."
Other highlights of the press conference saw Wladimir's brother, Vitali, take the journalists' microphone and taunt Haye by saying: "Please make sure you come to the post-fight press conference when you lose!"
Haye's response was typically barbed: "No, make sure you come to the press conference and not in the ambulance with your brother."
Swindon trainer Paddy Fitzpatrick, part of Haye's entourage, then approached the stage to confront Emmanuel Steward, Klitschko's coach, over a long-running feud they share. The fighters themselves then shared a traditional face-to-face stare-down before being separated.Reuse content