World title challenger Shannon O’Connell has seemingly accused IBF bantamweight queen Ebanie Bridges of setting women’s boxing back because of her lingerie clad weigh-ins.
Ahead of an all-Aussie world title fight on December 10 in Leeds, an already spicy contest kicked up a gear as the pair faced of in a virtual showdown hosted by Matchroom Boxing’s Eddie Hearn.
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The 23-6-1 O’Connell earned a shot a Bridges on the back of an eight-fight winning streak.
The fight will also be Bridges’ first title defence after claiming the belt on the back of a brutal unanimous decision win over Maria Cecilia Roman in March.
Roman had held the belt since 2017, but Bridges outpunched the former champ to take the belt.
But the pair have long been at odds over how they promote themselves as Bridges makes plenty of headlines outside the ring as well.
The 36-year-old former maths teacher known as the Blonde Bomber regularly makes waves with her lingerie-clad weigh-ins, and has a cheeky relationship with Matchroom’s Eddie Hearn.
At her last weigh-in, she gave Hearn a pair of sunglasses, explaining it was so the boxing mogul “doesn’t have to hurt his neck looking at the ceiling”.
She’s also made money selling dirty socks in the past.
However the act is exactly the problem O’Connell has with Bridges, as the pair ignited their war of words.
“I don’t like the way Ebanie has gone about things,” O’Connell said.
“If you look back 10 years ago … (female boxers) never got recognised, we went on all the amateur tournaments and tours, we paid our own way, there was no respect in the sport for women.
“I believe everyone has worked so hard to gain respect, and doing things the way Ebanie has done them …
Bridges interjected: “So I’m not working hard? You don’t think that I’m actually working hard?
“You don’t think I worked hard just because I look a bit different, what I do isn’t the same as you? You’re saying I haven’t had it the hard way because I’m just a little bit different?”
O’Connell: “What, because you get your clothes off to be seen?”
Bridges: “I get my clothes off? Sorry, how does everyone else weigh-in in? Claressa Shields just weighed-in in lingerie, gets her clothes off too, and all the girls that get their clothes off, now they’re just seen?”
O’Connell said Bridges had taken the wrap for introducing the trend, adding: “I’ve heard interviews where you’re saying you grew up around strippers and stuff, and you’re bagging them out, now you’re acting like one.
“I’ve got kids. Imagine my 16-year-old son going to school and all his mates passing around that photo of me – there would be punch-ons every day.
“And my daughter is 15, imagine her, me teaching her ‘hey just get your clothes off and you’ll get what you want in life’.”
Bridges replied she’d never bagged out a stripper, having grown up around them, adding she was just weigh-in.
Bridges fired back, saying: “It’s so 1920s, telling women what they need to do.”
“If it wasn’t for me you wouldn’t be on this platform, you wouldn’t be getting seen globally, you wouldn’t be getting the biggest payday of your career,” she continued.
“You can say I’ve disrespected the sport, but I’m pretty sure because of me you’re here, you’re going to make good money, and you’ll have people actually know who you are.”
O’Connell finished off the exchange taking one more shot at Bridges’ social media fame.
“I don’t give a shit about people knowing who I am and I don’t give a shit about the money. If I did do the sport for the money I’d be a f**king idiot.
“Boxing saved my life and it’s different to me. Obviously no one wants to go without but I’m not doing this for the short-term fame of boxing, of being a social media star. I couldn’t give a s**t about social media.
“You carry on like I’ve got no confidence and you’re so confident, but if you were so confident you wouldn’t be constantly begging for validation every five seconds.”
While nothing will be settled by the comments, it sets the stage for a mouth-watering clash at Leeds’ First Direct Arena on December 10.
Story Credit: news.com.au