Josh Taylor was held back from world title challenger Teofimo Lopez by a New York policeman and several security guards during a bizarre pre-fight press conference.
Promoters Top Rank dispensed with the usual face-to-face photographs following some highly charged comments between the pair in the media in the lead-up to this weekend’s fight at Madison Square Garden.
A statement before the media event read: “Instead of a traditional face-off, a layer of security will separate the combatants. Additional security has been hired due to the intense pre-fight rhetoric between the two combatants.”
After a question-and-answer session with the event host, a burly police officer entered the stage flanked by security guards either side and put his arms on Taylor several times to prevent the Scot approaching American Lopez.
The 25-year-old challenger stated last month that he liked the thought of being able to kill in the ring and get away with it, which prompted Taylor to warn “let’s see who ends up in the back of an ambulance” if he tried to do so during their WBO super-lightweight title fight.
When asked at Thursday’s media conference whether his comments relayed genuine hostility, Lopez said: “It is what it is, I speak my truth, that’s how I feel. Everything I speak out I am just trying to make into existence.”
When asked the same question, Taylor, who unified the division before vacating several titles, said: “It is a little bit genuine. I say what I mean as well. There is a bit of genuine dislike there.
“He has been disrespectful. A lot of words he has said, I am going to make him pay for on Saturday. I can’t wait to get in there and get tore in amongst him.”
Ring magazine belt-holder Taylor later branded Lopez, a former lightweight world champion, a “clown” after quoting Mike Tyson and called on him to produce his own saying.
Lopez, wearing a white suit with no shirt, responded: “Aim for death because that’s where life begins. Everyone is scared of death, I don’t know why, we all going to die, but at least if I die I will die for something that means something, that is going to last forever. It’s what greats are all about. Something that you don’t really know.”
Taylor, wearing a Scotland football top, was quickly manhandled by the police officer and joined on stage by six security guards when he moved towards his opponent to speak to him during the photoshoot.
The fight is due to start about 4am UK time in the early hours of Sunday morning.