As soon as Chris Eubank Jr arrived for his first press conference with Liam Smith, the star from Brighton began the mind games.
He declared he could prepare for the former world champion on a diet of fast food, that he only needed to be firing on 50 per cent to win and that he would look to finish Smith inside the distance.
Such comments do not sit easily with a proud fighter like Smith.
“That’s just him being him,” the Liverpudlian fired back. “You come in at 50 per cent, please do.
“What are you paying Roy Jones [his trainer] for then?
“Why put a rematch clause in?
“I know his whole team know this is a lot tougher fight for him which is why this rematch clause got put in place,” Smith continued. “He doesn’t make the weight as great as he makes out.
“He holds a good shot. His chin will get tested and his body will get tested too,” Smith added, but insisted, “I can knock anyone out, especially with 10 ounce gloves on.”
Goading a rival is a role that Eubank Jr is happy to play.
“The bad guy is back,” he declared. “He never cheats, he never lies, he never cuts any corners but he’s still the bad guy. Isn’t that incredible?
“I think this is going to be the funnest [sic] fight I’ve had for quite some time. The styles are going to gel excellently. It can’t be a boring fight.”
It’s a bout which he maintains he will win in spectacular style. I know what Liam is. There’s nothing he’s going to be able to do that is going to confuse me or I’m not going to see coming,” Eubank claimed. “[It’s] one that I’m going to be able to win with a fair amount of ease.
“With you as soon as there’s an opening, you’re going to be on the canvas,” he said speaking to Smith directly. “You know how to give up.
“You know how to take a knee and look at your corner.
“You know how to lay down like the old dog that you are.”
Smith responded, “That’s a lie.
“Every time you’ve stepped up to someone with good fundamentals you’ve lost.
“He’s not turning up 50%,” Smith added. “He turns up at 50 per cent I’ll wipe the floor with him.”
Eubank Jr is the son of British boxing legend Chris Eubank and Smith told him, “You got a leg up because of your name.”
Eubank replied quickly, “It’s obscene for you to talk like that.
“This is not about names, it’s not about leg ups,” he continued. “I’ve dealt with this for so long, it’s not even something I think about or care about.
“Whether I get my credit or not at this stage now it’s irrelevant.
“Whether they like me or whether they don’t like me, I want to be in big fights … and win.
“The final message will be on the night when I’m standing over him with my hand raised.”
Unimpressed, Smith wished him “good luck” with that.
Expressionless Eubank replied, “Thank you.”
What they said…
Both fighters spoke to Sky Sports after this first press conference.
For Smith a defeat would spell the end of his career at the top level. But he believes that is also the case for Eubank Jr. He said: “If I lose to Chris Eubank, all being said I’ve got no aspirations of being world champion again. I’m carrying on boxing because I want to be world champion again and be in big fights and it’s all led to this.
“I know if I turn up 100 per cent I’m massively confident of beating Chris, that’s why I haven’t jumped at it for the six week notice. I’ve taken it on my terms and in January I’ll be ready.
“The pressure is on both. The pressure is on Chris because he’s the middleweight, the name, the A-side, but I’ll accept that. There’s pressure on me because of the stage we are at in my career. Chris is 33, I’ve just turned 34, there’s not much in it in that sense, we’ll see in January.
“Whoever loses that fight, the world title fights are done.”
Eubank Jr believes Smith is rattled. He said: “I always enjoy the events. I like being able to interact with my opponent before the fight, get his vibe, see what type of personality he is.
“I think he’s an emotional guy. I think he’s easy to rattle. I’m very calm, you can’t say anything to me that upsets me.
“Liam, he’s ready to go as soon as you say anything he doesn’t agree with or doesn’t like. And I like that, and I’m going to use that against him on the night.
“I just talked, I just said the things which I thought were true. If that got under his skin, then so be it.
“The fact that I don’t remember anything from [sparring] him means that he was just another body, just another piece of meat that I was in there to tenderise for a couple of days, and sauté and the leave – that’s what happened.”