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Liam Smith’s homophobic taunts further embarrass “proper boxing”

After a week complaining about YouTuber boxing I guess we have our sport back...

Liam Smith sunk to low levels in his trash talk with Chris Eubank Jr
Liam Smith sunk to low levels in his trash talk with Chris Eubank Jr
Photo by Gareth Copley/Getty Images

MANCHESTER, UK — Just like rats in London, you’re never further than six feet away from a bad headline in boxing. And this week hasn’t bucked the trend.

The positive build-up to this weekend’s British domestic middleweight clash between Chris Eubank Jr and Liam Smith nosedived on Thursday afternoon as Smith aimed homophobic taunts towards Eubank Jr during their final press conference.

In an attempt to get under the skin of the 33-year-old East Sussex fighter, Smith sunk to childish, moronic, and uneducated levels in questioning the sexuality of his foe and insinuating that he had reason to be embarrassed.

The exchange between the fighters led to Sky Sports issuing an on-air apology for “homophobic and personal remarks.”

The timing couldn’t be more apt. A week previous, vocal pockets of the boxing community voiced their strong negative opinions regarding DAZN’s Misfits event in London — featuring an array of YouTuber fights — claiming that the card was an embarrassment to the sport and not “proper boxing.”

Those critics have got “proper boxing” back this week and the sport has once again shot itself in the foot.

Whether you are a fan of YouTube boxing or not, there are lessons to be learned and methods of exposure than would be welcomed in the professional game. Off the back of a well attended MF & DAZN Series event inside London’s O2 last Saturday, this week proved the perfect opportunity to convert some of these new eyeballs on the sport into fans of the pro game — an argument that is constantly wheeled out by the promoters responsible to justify their involvement.

But just a snippet of Thursday’s press conference would have turned thousands of potential fans away, as boxing continues to isolate itself from a more casual and diverse audience.

Inclusiveness is vital in sport. If you can see it, you can be it — but that works both ways. If a young gay fighter was watching that press conference, how on earth would they find the motivation to return to the gym on Monday morning if these caveman opinions are still given a platform unopposed?

It’s not a new problem. And the issue is that it doesn’t appear to be an old problem, either. Boxing continues to give the green light to these behaviours without consequence, something unimaginable in any other sport.

On Friday morning it was announced that the stewards of the British Boxing Board of Control will “consider” comments made during the press conference.

No doubt we will hear the delayed apologies from the promoters, broadcasters and fighters as fight night gets closer, but these will all be hollow. Homophobia was used in an attempt to sell a £19.95 product and there is no shortage of those in the queue looking to cash in.

Lewis Watson is a sports writer from London, UK, and a member of the BWAA. Follow or contact him on Twitter @lewroyscribbles

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