A war of words has erupted ahead of Australian boxer Ebanie Bridges’ world title fight in London this Sunday after her opponent Shannon Courtenay accused her of disrespecting the sport.
Bridges, a former ring girl, is undefeated in five fights and will challenge Courtenay for the WBA world female bantamweight title on the undercard of Conor Benn’s fight against Samuel Vargas.
But the 34-year-old has generated just as many headlines for her racy Instagram posts and skimpy weigh-in outfits as she has for her fighting — and it doesn’t sit well with Courtenay.
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“I’m a fighter, not a lingerie model,” Courtenay said, in a video released by promoter Matchroom Boxing.
“This is a world title fight. Have some respect for the game. You’ve got people like (lightweight world champion) Katie Taylor who has worked her arse off for years to allow women like me to be in this position — through hard work and dedication she’s managed to get women’s boxing where it is — and you want to disrespect it and degrade the sport by talking about your weigh-in outfit and lingerie? Have some respect and some decorum for boxing.”
Bridges: I’m bringing eyes to the sport
Bridges, who has two degrees and works as a school maths teacher, insists she’s all about female empowerment.
“Let’s be real. If I wore what everyone else wore, people wouldn’t be interested. I’d just be another fight. Whatever,” the Blonde Bomber told Sky Sports.
“I’m trying to bring more eyes to the sport. You can criticise me as much as you like. But if I looked plain then you wouldn’t even know this fight was happening.
“People will tune in to see if this girl wearing lingerie can actually fight, or is she just a model? The thing is; me and Shannon can really fight.”
Bridges, who used to be a bodybuilder, believes there’s an element of jealousy involved too.
“If people had my body and my confidence then they would do it, but people are too scared of being judged,” she said.
“As a bodybuilder I stood on stage in a bikini flexing my body. I love it. I don’t care what people think.
“Doing weigh-ins is showing off my hard work. It’s something I enjoy. I make it a thing where my fans can interact with me. This is an entertainment business.
“This is something different that others aren’t doing. Why do I need to be the same as everyone else?
“Everyone wears underwear at weigh-ins. Do you want me to wear a paper bag?”
Brutal response to Courtenay’s criticism
After seeing vision of Courtenay accusing her of disrespecting the sport, Bridges went after her on Twitter.
She posted a series of photographs of the 27-year-old posing in low cut or short outfits and questioned what the difference was.
“Maybe not lingerie but I wonder what sexy look she was going for in these posts??” Bridges wrote. “And 70% of her pouty posts low cut tops on insta with lame captions pretending she ain’t trying to be hot lol stop being a hypocrite.”