The rivalry between unbeaten Ipswich prospect Fabio Wardley (8-0, 7 KOs) and Middlebrough's Simon Vallily (17-2-1, 7 KOs) escalated on Thursday ahead of their battle for the vacant English heavyweight championship after an X-rated exchange of insults.
Wardley took his seat to promoter Eddie Hearn's right sporting a ridiculous fancy-dress-party fake moustache, mocking the legitimate handlebar efforts of his Saturday opponent.
But while Wardley, 25, was in high spirits, the humour did not sit well with Vallily, who could be seen stewing to Hearn's left as Wardley kicked off the presser with innocent enough thoughts on the bout.
"Saturday’s the big test," explained Wardley. "It’s the coming out party, to answer some questions people have about me and some reservations they may have that I’m all hype.
"I’m here to prove what I am. I expect Simon to bring it, full force. He’s been able to focus through lockdown on the gym and hopefully on Saturday I get the best Simon Vallily."
Perhaps viewing the respectful words coming from beneath the fake facial hair as passive-aggressive, and watching Wardley stroking the fake moustache afterward, Vallily was just plain aggressive from the very beginning of his contributions.
"I don't think the moustache suits you," Vallily said. "I don't think you can make it work"
This led to an immediate offer from Wardley to "shave it off" — and the bookies' favourite removed and discarded the prop, having used it to its desired effect.
"I’ve focused, trained well, trained hard," continued Vallily.
"Fabio possesses some talent. I won’t say he doesn’t because he does. But the best Simon Vallily beats the best Fabio Wardley.
"He’s had a few white collar fights and he’s sparred some good fighters. But I haven’t lost much sleep over him because on fight night he doesn’t stand a chance."
Wardley's cool demeanour slowly slipped as his weekend adversary grew more threatening.
"I want that challenge," he said. "But when you're asleep on the canvas you won’t talk much.
"You’re washed up. You couldn’t make cruiserweight. You couldn’t be bothered to put the work in.
"But now you’re in with the heavyweights and you’re in there with one who’ll punch your face in. Even after just a few journeymen, I’ll knock you out.
In response, Vallily proceeded to turn the air blue with plenty of swearing. (Warning: NSFW language in the full video of their press conference exchange.)
"We can talk a load of crap now but it’s all about fight night," said Vallily. "I’ve heard people say I’ve got to drag him down into a dogfight. I don’t know where that’s come from. I can easily outbox him.
"I’ll jab that face to pieces. He doesn’t know if he’s ready. He’s knocked eight journeymen out. Wow. Who hasn’t? You’ve done f— all. There’s about two thousand of you in this country.
Caught in the middle of all this, Hearn was a little red-faced, but his enthusiasm for the showdown to decide who takes the belt last held by Daniel Dubois increased tenfold. As it has for everyone who watched the heated back-and-forth, no doubt.
"We apologise for the language, but this is the fight game," said Hearn at the end. "We’re here at Fight Camp all living under each other’s toes, it’s what happens."
The two held back on any physicality until they share the ring on Saturday. The social distancing protocols during their "face-to-face" photo opportunity likely helped ensure that.Matchroom Boxing's Fight Camp 1, headlined by Eggington vs Cheeseman, airs live on DAZN in the U.S. and Sky Sports in the UK on Aug. 1.