Ronnie O'Sullivan bounced back off the ropes to earn a shot at Judd Trump in Sunday's final of the Coral UK Championship after fearing he was about to suffer a knock-out blow.
The four-time champion admitted any boxing referee would have stepped in to halt such a one-sided contest, after Stuart Bingham raced to a 4-1 lead in their semi-final at the York Barbican Centre.
But at a venue that has staged top-class fights before, a "lucky" O'Sullivan resurrected his trophy mission with some spectacular counter-punching.
He finished with breaks of 117 and 94 to win 6-5 and set up a final clash with Trump, the only current top player in the game who rivals O'Sullivan's popularity.
Bingham had won just two of 11 previous matches against O'Sullivan, and they both came in the UK Championship, at Telford in 2010 and in their quarter-final last year in York.
Bingham began the latest contest by rifling in breaks of 66, 49, 73 and a 137 total clearance, but O'Sullivan stepped up to the challenge.
The 39-year-old Chigwell cueman saved his best for last but said: "If it was a boxing match they would definitely have stopped it and you'd be talking to Stuart Bingham as the winner.
"In the first five frames he gave me a good hiding and I couldn't compete. If he'd kept playing like that it was 6-1 all day long, and I was lucky to get a frame.
"He outfoxed me, outpotted me and outscored me and looked so comfortable around the table.
"I got away with that one really. I got lucky."
Trump toppled Stephen Maguire 6-4, with the highlight a break of 100 in the sixth frame, and he possesses the weaponry to trouble O'Sullivan in their best-of-19-frame trophy tussle.
Glaswegian Maguire, who won the UK title in 2004, had trailed 5-1 at one stage and said: "When it went 5-4 I honestly thought I'd win. He was looking a little bit reckless. I could have been in the final so right now I'd don't feel so good."
O'Sullivan has never lost a UK Championship final, triumphing as a 17-year-old in 1993 and adding titles in 1997, 2001 and 2007.
He is looking to crown a hugely successful 2014, in which he has landed the Masters, Welsh Open and Champion of Champions titles, as well as finishing runner-up to Mark Selby at the World Championship.
His Champion of Champions title came at the expense of Trump in November, when O'Sullivan fired four centuries in winning 10-7 in a classic final.
O'Sullivan's ongoing success in York comes despite the ankle break he sustained on the eve of the tournament.
With six wins already, plus a 147 break that stands to earn him £44,000, he is eyeing the £150,000 top prize on Sunday.
"If I play like I did in the last three or four frames, I'll be all right. But what we're talking about here is consistency. Consistency is the key," O'Sullivan said.
Trump, relishing another chance to face O'Sullivan in a major final, knows the man standing between him and the trophy has been slightly below his best form over the past week and a half, despite the maximum.
Trump said: "I've seen a few of his games, but he's Ronnie, he's going to raise his game, there's no way he's going to go out in the final and play like he has done. I'll give it 100% and we'll see what happens.
"He played perfect snooker (in the Champion of Champions final) so there's a 99% chance he's not going to repeat that."