Liam Smith realizes that there are people who will never forgive him for the comments he made to Chris Eubank Jr. during their pre-fight press conference seven months ago.
Smith regrets the inferences he made regarding Eubank’s sexuality. He also understands why he endured so much backlash, which Smith admitted during a recent interview with Sky Sports’ Anna Woolhouse took away from some of the joy he experienced when Smith upset Eubank by fourth-round technical knockout January 21 at AO Arena in Manchester, England.
“Yeah, obviously, you know, look, I regret every bit of the fight week,” Smith said during an episode of “Off Limits,” which debuted recently on Sky Sports’ YouTube channel to promote their upcoming middleweight rematch. “And, you know, the stuff that got said at the press conference should never have been said, you know, in any form of life, never mind just at a boxing press conference. But, you know, I’m still facing the backlash of it, still to this day. And there will be people I’ll never win back over. But, you know, I fully regret how that press conference went and what got said should never have been said. And again, I apologize to anyone I offended.”
His comments immediately turned the typically mild-mannered Smith into a villain entering their Sky Sports Box Office main event.
“Chris, you’re going on about girls, mate,” Smith said to Eubank during a press conference January 19 in Manchester. “Has anybody in this room ever seen you with a girl? Have you got something to tell us, really, cuz you’re 33. You said on the program, you know, when you’ll have kids. You know, this is for no laughs or nothin’, do you wanna tell us something? … If you’re happy, then just tells us. It’s not a dig.”
Eubank dismissed Smith’s comments and wore a rainbow armband to their weigh-in as a show of support to the LGBT community. Smith, a former WBO junior middleweight champion, has apologized numerous times and emphasized that he is not the type of person portrayed by his comments.
“And, you know, again, I can understand it,” Smith said. “People who looked into it, I can understand. And can understand them thinking I was trying to make fun of it. But, you know, I fully meant that wasn’t me intention and maybe I got caught up in the moment sort of way. But, you know, I fully regret how that press conference went. … I get there will be people who will never accept me apology or I’ll never get back on [my] side now. And that’s something I’ve gotta live with now going forward.”
Liverpool’s Smith (33-3-1, 20 KOs) and Brighton’s Eubank (32-3, 23 KOs) will square off again September 2 at AO Arena.
Their second fight will headline another Sky Sports Box Office pay-per-view show in the United Kingdom and Ireland (£19.95; 6 p.m. BST). ESPN+ will stream Smith-Eubank II and part of its undercard in the United States (2 p.m. EDT; 11 a.m. PDT).
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.