Kubrat Pulev told Anthony Joshua 'remember me' during a fiery confrontation in the aftermath of the British heavyweight's brutal world title victory.
The Bulgarian's co-promoter Ivaylo Gotzev has revealed how Pulev suffered a 'pneumonia stage' of Covid-19, just weeks ahead of the fight, but was cleared to challenge Joshua for the WBA, WBO and IBF titles at The SSE Arena in Wembley last month.
Joshua impressed as he ended a year-long absence, completing a ninth-round knockout after Pulev was floored for a third time, in only his second career loss. Both fighters bumped gloves wildly in a sign of respect after Joshua's victory, although heated words were then traded in the ring.
"I think what he said was, 'Remember me, remember me,' Gotzev told Sky Sports.
"In other words, what he was leading to was, 'Remember me, you will see me again. I'll come back. I'll come back and we'll meet again.'
"That was, I think the spirit of what he said, and then AJ kind of said what he said. You'll have to ask him.
"I cannot speak for AJ, but I know that Kubrat referenced, 'Remember me, we shall meet again,' because he knew at that point he was beaten because he didn't have a full tank.
"He didn't really have the power or the strength, nor did he have the sparring that he needed in preparation. Once again, not excuses, just facts, and that's what happened."
A serious shoulder injury had forced Pulev to pull out of a scheduled world title fight against Joshua in October 2017, and the 39-year-old was determined not to withdraw again.
"He says, 'No, I'm going through with it, I'm going to fight AJ, and I know I might never get a third chance at this fight ever again,'" said Gotzev.
"It was too much to lose, not fighting for all those belts. He really believed in himself. He had a shot at cracking through AJ and he tried.
"Within a month prior to the fight, he had Covid. He had to alter his training and quite honestly I thought we were going home. Me to the US, him to Bulgaria. He met with doctors and he made a decision. He is standing by his decision. He's a warrior.
"Look, we've always given AJ credit, and I'm giving him credit now, saying he's a great athletic specimen. He's fit, he's physically strong, he can punch, but the weaknesses are obvious. There were glimpses of that when AJ was getting frustrated every time that Kubrat got close and punched him. Kubrat just didn't have enough.
"It does take your strength. Kubrat, his X-rays showed he went through a pneumonia stage, but he fought it off and he was there for the fight."
Pulev intends to continue his career, with Gotzev currently holding talks with American promoter Bob Arum about a fight in June before possibly targeting another British opponent.
"Let's not forget that right now we stand still in a winning column with Kubrat at 2-1 against top British heavyweights," said Gotzev. "I'm referring to Chisora and Hughie Fury, so let's keep the score going.
"Certainly one fight of great interest that I think style-wise and personalities would make for a great clash is Kubrat Pulev versus Dillian Whyte, once he deals with Povetkin.
"Dillian Whyte has been very loud in the past talking about Kubrat and Kubrat feels like he is the perfect mouth he wants to shut. That's a great heavyweight scrap for the future."