By Ollie Salt, courtesy of The Daily Star
CHRIS EUBANK JR has hit back at 'bad guy' Billy Joe Saunders after being accused of thinking about him when he goes to sleep at night.
To say there is no love lost between Eubank and Saunders, both 29, is perhaps an understatement given the extent of their malicious feud over the years.
WBO super-middleweight champion Saunders inflicted Eubank's first loss back in 2014, edging out a razor-tight split decision at the ExCel Arena.
After responding to that maiden defeat by barely breaking sweat in eight subsequent victories, Eubank then suffered a high-profile slip-up in February 2018 - losing the contest and some dignity in a wide points humbling against George Groves in the semi-final of the World Boxing Super Series.
Some may argue the traveller's brag-worthy achievement looks considerably better on paper, though, given that rank outsider Shefat Isufi was the only man standing in his way of clinching the WBO's vacant 168-pound strap seven months after being stripped of their 160-pound crown.
After picking up the middleweight title by toppling veteran Andy Lee in 2015, Saunders successfully defended the belt three times before relinquishing it when testing positive for banned stimulant oxilofrine ahead of a meeting with Demetrius Andrade back in October.
The outspoken traveller is a controversial character, too. A month prior to his drug shame, he was forced to apologise after posting a video that showed him offering an addict '£150 of crack' in exchange for performing a sex act and assaulting a stranger.
And while Eubank, who Saunders recently claimed goes to bed thinking about him, would welcome a rematch with his long-time rival now he holds another belt, the Brighton man insists he shouldn't have even been allowed to compete for world honours again in the first place.
"It's funny, it's funny. I haven't thought about the guy for years really," he exclusively tells Starsport.
"If we're talking about who's thinking about who, without me he's really nobody. Nobody would know his name if it wasn't for me and our fight.
"The fact he got a decision over me, that's what made him known as a fighter and that's all he really clings onto.
"He's not a likeable guy. He's done a lot of bad things. He's a drug cheat, he's been taken to court, there are these viral videos of him taking advantage of vulnerable people. He's a bad guy and he's paid the price for it.
"I want the rematch to happen now that he's got the belt, a belt that I don't feel he deserved.
"He is a drug cheat, so for him to be able to fight for a world title in his second fight back is disgraceful in my opinion.
"But he's got the belt, so that means he's back on the radar for me. If that fight can be made, I'm all for it."
There is a striking contrast in the way Saunders and Eubank go about their business in the ring.
Ridiculing the latter for a supposed bog-standard boxing IQ has almost become trendy among sweet-science enthusiasts. Instead, Eubank's gifts are blistering hand speed, an admirable chin and a seemingly bottomless tank of stamina.
While Saunders too has fast hands, his out-and-out forte is ring generalship, neat footwork and an irritatingly accurate jab that single-handedly allows him to dictate the course of contests.
Both men's defining attributes essentially told the story of their first encounter. Saunders got off to a flyer, peppering the pre-fight favourite with a series of sharp combinations, before Eubank found his rhythm and exerted physical dominance in the second-half of proceedings.
Eubank, however, is adamant he would 'destroy' his arch-nemesis in a potential rematch.
"He's still looking for those big-money fights," he says.
"He's never had one before, which is why he's dying to fight me, which is why he's talking about me now, because he's got his title and he now thinks he can get his big-money fights.
"But I'm not gonna start the fight from the sixth round this time, which is what I did in the first fight. The fact I only started the fight halfway through and it was still a split decision, that says it all really. Since then, I've never ever done that again because I've learned from my mistake. I'm a seasoned pro now, I know what to do. I know what I am, I know what he is and I know I'd destroy him in the rematch. From round one, not from round six."