Chris Eubank Jr has responded to bizarre ‘you’re gay’ jibe from his upcoming opponent Liam Smith by wearing an armband in support of the LGBT+ community.
The fighters clashed in the build-up to Saturday’s bout, with Smith suggesting Eubank Jr was ‘gay’, before Eubank Jr in turn made accusations that his rival was unfaithful to his girlfriend.
Now Eubank Jr has taken his response further by wearing the same rainbow armband football captains were banned from wearing during the World Cup in Qatar at the back end of 2022 as they squared up to each other ahead of their fight.
Chris Eubank Jr was wearing a rainbow armband in support of the LGBT+ community as he squared up to Liam Smith ahead of their fight on Saturday
England captain Harry Kane (right) was banned from sporting a rainbow armband in support of the LGBT+ community at the last World Cup
Premier League stars have previously worn similar armbands to the one displayed by Eubank Jr
Posting on social media in support of the Pride movement, Eubank attached a picture of him going face-to-face with Smith while wearing the armband, captioning it: ‘We don’t discriminate… we don’t alienate. We want boxing & sport as a whole, to be all inclusive.’
Eubank Jr and Smith are facing an investigation from the British Boxing Board of Control (BBofC) over their shameful ‘personal’ and ‘homophobic’ comments at their pre-fight press conference.
Eubank Jr, the 33-year-old son of world champion Chris Eubank Sr, is set to fight the Liverpudlian in Manchester on Saturday night.
There were plenty of apologies before the weigh-in for the distasteful insults 24 hours earlier but not an ounce between Eubank and Smith as they stepped on the scales.
Chris Eubank Jr (left) and Liam Smith launched into an ugly argument at Thursday’s press conference
Both came in exactly two pounds below the middleweight limit at 11 st 5 lbs.
In preceding interviews each offered apologies of sorts for the sexual slights for which Sky television expressed public regrets and the British Boxing Board of Control promised to investigate.
In response to false insinuations from Smith that he may be gay, Eubank came to the stage wearing the Pride armband which Harry Kane was forbidden to sport in Qatar.
And although silence was golden for most of the long stare down, in the end Smith could not resist calling Eubank a clown.
Junior responded by saying: ‘He’s made it personal so now it’s no longer just normal business in the Manchester Arena this Saturday night. I will take pleasure in punishing him’
On Friday morning, the BBofC released a statement signed by general secretary Robert W. Smith, announcing they were aware of the comments made and would be looking into it.
‘The British Board of Boxing Control are aware of the comments made by Liam Smith and Chris Eubank Jnr. at yesterday’s press conference, and the Stewards of The Board will be considering the conduct of both Boxers directly,’ it said.
When the boxers met again on Friday afternoon for the weigh-in, Eubank Jr stepped out wearing a Manchester United shirt with a rainbow captain’s armband in a move likely to wind Liverpool fan Smith up.
On Friday morning, the BBofC released a statement announcing they would investigate the comments made
The insults stemmed from the pair’s appearance on ‘Gloves Are Off’ – a staple of Sky Sports’ pre-fight promotion involving two fighters sitting across from one another for a chat with former world champion Johnny Nelson.
In fact, their episode last month had to be cut short – and carefully edited – after Eubank and Smith turned fire on to each other’s families.
But the British boxers clashed again on Thursday, with Eubank Jr hitting out at Smith, saying: ‘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 occasion.’
Following the row, Sky Sports presenter Anna Woolhouse was forced to apologise for the ‘offensive’ and ‘homophobic’ language used throughout, while co-presenter Andy Clarke described what was heard as ‘personal’ and ‘homophobic’.
Sky Sports also removed the streamed event from their Sky Sports Boxing YouTube channel.
Eubank Jr later took to social media, stating: ‘Well that escalated quickly.’
The row was initiated following remarks made by Eubank Jr earlier this week in which he revealed Smith, 34, has been sending him direct messages on Instagram leading up to the fight.
Eubank Jr referenced those messages at Thursday’s press conference, stating: ‘You slid into my DMs. I’m used to seeing girls in my DMs, I’m not used to seeing guys.’
Smith initiated the argument by asking whether Eubank Jr had anything to say, stating ‘nobody in this room has ever seen you with a woman’
Eubank Jr insisted his private life is irrelevant to boxing but later accused Smith of cheating on his wife
Smith, responding to the accusations of cheating on his partner (left), stated: ‘You haven’t got a missus to cheat on’
Smith, a former super-welterweight world champion, then replied: ‘Chris, you go on about girls, mate, has anybody in this room ever seen you with a girl?
‘Have you got something to tell us? Because you’re 33. Do you want to tell us something? Because nobody in this room has ever seen you with a woman.’
Eubank Jr looked to revert the conversation to the task at hand, insisting personal matters should not be brought into question publicly.
‘Listen, my private life is my private life,’ Eubank Jr responded. ‘That’s irrelevant to the boxing, but I’m happy, I’m comfortable.’
Eubank Jr, following another prompt from Smith, who again asked, ‘Do you have something you want to tell us?’ continued: ‘It’s a very personal question to ask me directly. You can slide in my DMs or you can do it right now.’
Smith then responded: ‘I’m not that type of way, mate, I like women.’
Later in the press conference, Eubank Jr returned to the earlier argument, this time accusing his impending opponent of cheating on his wife ‘on occasion’.
He said: ‘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 occasion.
‘So glass houses mate. Let’s just relax on the personal stuff. I’d rather be gay than a cheat.’
This was met with a response of: ‘You haven’t got a missus to cheat on.’
Eubank Jr is taking to the ring for the first time since his February 2022 win over Liam Williams, with his October bout against Conor Benn axed after the latter failed two drugs tests in the build-up to the fight.
Smith, meanwhile, last beat Hassan Mwakinyo in September last year.