Chris Eubank Jr sported a rainbow armband to his pre-fight weigh-in following his unpleasant exchange with Liam Smith this week.
Sky Sports apologised for “personal and homophobic remarks” at Thursday’s (19 January) final pre-fight press conference, which turned ugly when Smith made sly references as he questioned Eubank Jr’s sexuality. The exchange was criticised on social media.
Eubank Jr shared a clip on his Twitter page, captioning it: “It got personal today… it will get even more personal on Saturday #EubankSmith.”
But what has been said, how did Chris Eubank Jr respond and did he wear a rainbow armband?
Why did Chris Eubank Jr wear a rainbow armband?
The middleweight boxer arrived at the weigh-in a day before his fight at the AO Arena in Manchester wearing a rainbow armband on Friday (20 January). It came following a nasty exchange with Smith the prior day at the pre-fight press conference in which he questioned Eubank Jr’s sexuality.
He kept the accessory on throughout a frosty and protracted staredown with Smith which passed off without incident after the pair had both scaled 11st 5lbs – one pound below the middleweight cut-off. Eubank Jr wrote on Twitter afterwards: “We don’t discriminate… we don’t alienate. We want boxing & sport as a whole, to be all inclusive.”
Did Liam Smith make a ‘gay jibe’ about Eubank Jr?
In the clip shared by Eubank Jr from the press conference on Thursday, Smith said: “Has anybody in this room ever seen you with a girl? Have you got something to tell us really, because you are 33, you said on the programme... when you have kids. This is for no laughs, do you want to tell us something?
“You are putting up pictures of Neymar and limousines, do you want to tell us something? ‘Cos no-one in this room has ever seen you with a woman.” Eubank Jr responded with unsubstantiated claims about Smith’s fidelity to his wife.
Use of homophobia to promote the fight criticised
The use of homophobia in the press conference has been criticised. Sky Sports issued an apology and while Eubank Jr and Smith have also apologised for their conduct, the matter may rumble on beyond this weekend as the British Boxing Board of Control said it is “considering the conduct” of the fighters.
The Athletic’s Adam Crafton responded: “There’s a point (and tbh it doesn’t feel that far) where some of us who really care about homophobia will just go and live a happier and less agitated life working in things other than sport, because it’s hard to find a sport right now that actually has a plan to challenge it.
“The apologies by the boxers, promoter and broadcaster btw are meaningless. Homophobia was used to publicise your event and you’re cashing in on it. A quiet statement afterwards doesn’t change that. Also the laughs in the room? Journalists or fans or promoters or what?”
Richard Innes, head of content at BrewDog, wrote: “Can you imagine if Smith had made similar comments about Eubank’s skin colour, rather this his supposed sexuality? At what point does homophobia in sport get treated the way it should?”
One user tweeted: “That Smith is an embarrassment, why would it matter if he was gay? How does being gay have relevance on his fight or any sport? It’s no wonder homophobia is still such a problem.” Another added: “Ah yes, homophobia to hit someone at a personal level. Dunno who Smith is but it’s 2023 lad. Grow up.”