British boxing got heated last week before a highly anticipated bout between Brighton native Chris Eubank, Jr. and Liverpudlian Liam Smith, with both fighters scoring wins — one in the ring, and one out.
In the run up to fight week, tensions flared between the two veteran boxers. Eubank, 33, the multiple-title favorite and son of former world boxing champion Chris Eubank, got into a verbal sparring match with light-middleweight champ Smith, 34, one of four British boxing brothers, at the prefight news conference. The trash talk got personal.
“Nobody in this room has ever seen you with a woman,” Smith taunted Eubank. “Do you want to tell us something?”
Eubank, unbeaten since 2018, bristled at the insinuation.
“You slid into my DMs,” Eubank said. “You sent me a direct message. I’m used to seeing girls in my DMs, I’m not used to seeing guys I’m about to fight.”
Smith: “You’re going on about girls, mate. Has anyone in this room ever seen you with a girl? Have you got something to tell us, really?
Smith continued: “For no laughs, no nothing, do you want to tell us something? You’re putting pictures up of Neymar in limousines. Do you want to tell us something?
“Because nobody in this room has ever seen you with a woman.”
Eubank got Smith’s point.
Eubank: “You’re asking me if I’m gay, you’re talking about my beard and my hair — I have a great barber, I can introduce you if you want.”
Smith: “Your barber tattooed your hair.”
Eubank: “If you want to get personal with it, if you want to get dark and personal with it — talking about being gay and do I like girls — I’ve been told by multiple sources that you cheat on your wife on the occasion. So let’s just relax with the personal stuff. I’d rather be gay than a cheat, how about that.”
Smith: “You don’t got a misses to cheat on.”
Following the news conference, Smith denied his comments were homophobic.
Then Eubank replied with a memorable combination at the weigh-in.
When the 5’11” middleweight stripped down to his boxers and stepped onto the scale, he sported a rainbow-themed armband with “captain” spelled out across it.
“We don’t discriminate… we don’t alienate,” he wrote on Twitter after the fact, with a pic of the two boxers nose to nose. “We want boxing & sport as a whole, to be all inclusive.”
That would be the highlight of Eubank’s fight week performance. In the match, Smith took Eubank down in the 4th round — twice — and the fight was called. It was only the third loss of Eubank’s career, and the first drop.
Along with the loss, Eubank earned a post-fight apology from Smith.
“Something I said may have come across wrong, and I apologize for anyone offended by that. I respect everybody and it was just tongue in cheek with Chris.”
Both fighters were generous after the fact.
It’s Eubank’s decision whether the two face off in a rematch, which seems likely despite the loss and earlier animosity. Smith’s hometown arena in Liverpool is the likely venue.
“Big congratulations to Liam. I felt like it could’ve gone on, but he caught me with a great shot,” Eubank told Sky Sports after the bout.
“The build-up got a bit ugly at the end and I regretted that.”
“I respect you and your family and I always have. If the fans want to see a rematch, we can get it on at Anfield.”