David Haye and Tony Bellew traded verbal barbs at a fiery, expletive-laden press conference in Liverpool but the pair were kept apart to prevent another possible physical exchange.
The touchpaper was lit to this Saturday's heavyweight showdown when Haye threw a punch at Bellew in reaction to being shoved by his rival as they promoted their grudge match last November.
There were reports a physical barrier would separate the duo on Merseyside but, while that did not come to fruition, they did not go head-to-head as a couple of bouncers stood between the two British boxers for a stare-down.
There was no physical altercation, but Haye was vociferously booed and taunted by fans in Bellew's home city.
The Londoner was the first to speak but was told to "shut the f*** up" by Bellew, who also taunted his foe by calling him a "broken man".
Haye was visibly rattled by the reaction of the pro-Bellew crowd, and responded: "You're a f****** chump. You'll see what a broken man can do to you on March 4. I'm going smash your f****** head in and both of us know it.
"All of these f****** retards know it as well. Bet all of your f****** money on it - he's getting done. You're a f****** p****.
"Take a loan out and bet it on Tony Bellew. If you're all so brave, bet all the money that you have and bet it on Tony Bellew - that's how you show your support.
"But deep in all of your tiny minds you know this guy is getting drilled to the canvas pretty fast.
"I've just got to turn up and knock this d******* out - it's an easy job."
Haye is a big favourite this weekend but Bellew believes the 36-year-old is not the same fighter who unified the cruiserweight division and won a world heavyweight title before a four-year absence from the ring.
Bellew said: "When David was in his prime he was an immense athlete, an amazing fighter and is still probably the most dangerous heavyweight in the world.
"But the gas tank is very, very low and it does not last very long. I'm expecting the very, very best of David Haye but I understand fully it's not going to be there for very long and when the gas tank runs out, the big fat Scouser is going to steam right through him like a train.
"I am not going to stop, I promise you that."