ANTHONY JOSHUA warned Wladimir Klitschko that he had three minutes to finish him off or he would “knock the f*** out” of the former heavyweight champion.
And Britain’s king of the ring proved to be as good as his word as he picked himself off the canvas to bludgeon his opponent to a bloody defeat.
Joshua revealed details of his extraordinary mid-fight conversation with Klitschko as he prepares for his next title defence against Kubrat Pulev.
Joshua, 27, was teetering on the brink of defeat after being floored by Dr.Steelhammer during their all-out war at Wembley Stadium in April.
Yet even with the formidable Ukrainian legend moving in for the kill, AJ still found the strength to throw down his remarkable challenge to the man who had dominated the heavyweight division for more than a decade.
Joshua admits: “When I’m talking to Klitschko after he’s knocked me down, I’m just letting him know that ‘if you let me get through this next round, I’m going to knock you the f*** out’.
“It was just the warrior in me reassuring myself that I was still in the fight.
“The one thing my coach has never taught me is how to take a punch and lie down for ten seconds and get up before the count is over.
LIVE – Groves vs Cox: Saint George wins in round four
EU MUST BE JOKING
Chris Eubank’s son Nathanael Wilson knocked out in first round at Wembley
Groves vs Cox live stream and TV: How to watch ITV Box Office fight on tv player
George Groves vs Jamie Cox: Live stream, Undercard, ITV Box Office, time and TV
Nathan McIntosh wins by DQ after being knocked out cold when ref shouted ‘break’
“He’s never come into the gym with a baseball bat and said ‘what we’re going to do is smack you around the jaw ten times and you’re going to lay on the floor and then see if you can get up’.
“It’s a situation where you’re in a fight or flight mode and what I learned about myself that night against Klitschko was that I have the deep down character that no-one can teach you in training.
“When you’re up against someone who can match you punch for punch, power for power and speed for speed, it becomes who you are and how bad you want it.
“That fight was everything I’d trained for for the last eight years. Forget everything else, it was mano-a-mano. This was me and Klitschko, this was about pride.
“When it comes to boxing I strip everything back to reality and focus on what it really is. It’s just me and a man coming to blows. And the best man will win.”
And Joshua needed every last drop of courage, determination and sheer bravery to come through the toughest fight of his life.
He thought he had victory in the bag when he knocked Klitschko down in the fifth round but could not finish his man off and found himself holding on for dear life when he took a count in the following round.
And it was not until the 11th round of an epic battle that he finally claimed the victory which allowed him to add the WBA and IBO belts to his IBF world title.
Speaking to the BBC for Anthony Joshua: The Fight Of My Life, he recalls: “Right from the start he was hitting my hands ‘bang, bang’.
“Years of training must have built up a lot of strength in that arm to knock my hands out of the way. That’s when I realised I was in with someone who’s just as strong as me and who can match me for ability.
“He was having a lot of success with the right hand early on. I had to get rid of the respect I had for Klitschko outside of the ring and just turn it into a dogfight.
“In my heart of hearts, I thought I had him when I put him down in the fifth. I roared to the crowd as if I’d done it and the ref was grabbing me, pushing me to the corner.
“What I didn’t realise was that Klitschko was rising to his feet like a Terminator, filling himself with a new lease of life and coming out to give it his last push.
“I’ve come in thinking ‘this is it’. I’ve swung a right hand, missed. I’ve swung a left hook, missed.
“Klitschko is fighting back and I’m like ‘woah, this ain’t what I’m used to.
“But I can’t say ‘one sec, Klitsch, I’m not used to this, bro. Let me just gather myself for a minute’.
“It took me 11 rounds to figure out the kind of combinations he throws, so as he’s thrown the right hand that comes straight out, I’ve decided to try to go under, right hand to the body, left hook to the head.
“Unfortunately, none of those punches landed. But out of the blue, as go you right and left you just naturally rotate. And what comes next is the uppercut.”
That monstrous right-hander would have finished any other boxer in the world but Klitschko, amazingly, stayed on his feet.
Joshua says: “I’m looking at him thinking ‘is he hurt, because I don’t want to waste any energy here?’
“I can see that he’s trying to old man me with his experience. ‘Yeah, you landed a good punch, son, but you haven’t hurt me’.
“But I thought ‘eff this’ and then it was bang, bang, uppercut, body shot.
“He went down and got back up and I thought ‘this geezer doesn’t want to stay down’.
“So I’m chasing him across the ring and he’s dodging it, still moving, and I can’t pin this guy down.
“Then I’ve got him on the ropes with a hook and he’s fallen like ‘timber’. Boof. I thought ‘that’s it, he’s definitely not getting back up this time’.
“I’ve walked to my corner and all I see is him standing up on the other side of the ring.
“I thought ‘oh my days’ but I just knew I wasn’t going to let him off the hook again. I had the energy I needed and I hit him with another barrage of punches.
“He came to fight, but it wasn’t enough to defeat me.”
Bulgarian challenger Pulev will need to bring something pretty special to Cardiff’s Principality Stadium on Saturday week.
Because Joshua is no mood to hand over the heavyweight crown he has fought so ferociously to wear.
- Anthony Joshua: The Fight OF My life will be shown on BBC One at 10.40pm on October 18.
Keep up to date with ALL the transfer news and gossip on our blog