British boxer Chris Eubank Jr wore a rainbow armband while attending his weigh-in for his fight against Liam Smith.
On 19 January, the two middleweight fighters participated in a press conference ahead of their highly anticipated match.
While the meeting was tense due to their impending grudge fight, things took a homophobic turn when Smith made childish assumptions about Eubank Jr’s sexuality.
“You go on about girls, has anybody in this room ever seen you with a girl? You got something to tell us?” the Liverpool boxer said.
In response, Eubank Jr effortlessly shut down Smith’s anti-gay remarks by stating that his “private life” was “irrelevant to the boxing.”
“I am happy and comfortable. What would you like too know, Liam? If you want to get personal, talking about being gay? I’ve been told you cheat on your wife,” he added.
A day after the disastrous press conference, Eubank Jr showcased his support for the LGBTQ+ community when he sported a rainbow armband during the pre-fight weigh-in.
“We don’t discriminate… we don’t alienate. We want boxing & sport as a whole, to be all-inclusive,” Eubank Jr tweeted alongside a photo of him wearing the band.
We don’t discriminate… we don’t alienate. We want boxing & sport as a whole, to be all inclusive. pic.twitter.com/coyvvV0HM8
— Chris Eubank Jr (@ChrisEubankJr) January 20, 2023
Shortly after the young talent uploaded his inclusive statement, fans flocked to social media to shower the boxer with praises.
One fan wrote: “The way you conducted yourself in the exchange of words was class, smart and professional.”
Another person tweeted: “Well done Chris, wasn’t really much of a fan before, but this changes things. Respect for using your platform for good.”
Even Stonewall UK commented on the gesture by calling on the British Boxing Board to take action against Smith.
“Homophobic, biphobic, and transphobic comments have no place in sport. It’s vital that the sports authorities take instances like this seriously and make clear that anti-LGBTQ+ rhetoric will not be tolerated by taking decisive action,” a spokesperson told The Independent UK.
Following Eubank Jr and Smith’s grudge match on Saturday (21 January), the latter responded to the backlash by apologising during his post-fight interview.
“I apologise to anyone offended by what I said. I’m not homophobic in any way, shape or form, I’m far from it. That’s not me as a man,” Smith said. “If anyone’s offended and I’ve come across that way, I apologise.”
As of this writing, the British Boxing Board have announced their intentions to investigate the conduct of both fighters.