CHRIS EUBANK JUNIOR has revealed how he was shot at by a gunman in the massacre-hit city of Las Vegas.
He was forced to dive for cover while a lone shooter aimed bullets above his head in a shopping mall car park when he lived in the United States as a teenager.
And the IBO super-middleweight champion says he also had to hit the deck when a gambler opened fire in a casino on the famous Strip after Floyd Mayweather Jr’s fight with Conor McGregor in August.
Eubank Jr instantly sent a message of sympathy after 58 people were murdered by cold-blooded killer Stephen Paddock at the Mandalay Bay resort on Sunday — and his feelings were partly influenced by his own experiences in America’s gambling and boxing capital.
He will defend his world title on Saturday against Turkey’s Avni Yildirim in front of a hostile crowd in Stuttgart.
But he says no amount of intimidation can unsettle him after the scenes he witnessed in Las Vegas.
The city is still reeling in shock after Paddock, 64, let loose with an arsenal of firearms on a crowded country music festival, also injuring nearly 500 in the panic.
Young Chris, now 28, was sent to live there aged 16 by his disciplinarian father, Chris Sr, who also spent formative time across the Atlantic on the way to becoming a celebrated world champion in the 1990s.
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Eubank Jr said: “Nothing can prepare you for a mass shooting of the kind that happened on Sunday.
“But I saw plenty of gun-play when I was at school in Las Vegas.
“I was there for four years and they are a part of everyday American life. Most of the kids at High School had guns.
“There was one who drove around showing off an AK-47 rifle he kept in his car boot.
The most scary experience of my life came when I was at what we used to call a Parking Lot Pimping Party.
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“You have to be 21 to do most things in Vegas, so everyone under-age would gather in cars at the mall car parks to drink illegally, dance and chill.
“One time we were all there and I noticed this white Toyota Corolla rolling by us very, very slowly with a guy looking out of the window.
“He was clearly looking for someone in the crowd.
“He pulled in and then I heard a girl scream and suddenly there he was, standing about ten yards behind me pulling out a gun.
“First he pointed it at me, so I hit the deck.
“Then he started blasting away over the top of me at another car
“I’ll never forget it, or the way he just looked so calm as he did it.
“Then he just put the gun back in his jeans and walked back to his car as if it was nothing.
“It was crazy and I was angry as I watched him walk away. He could have killed me. Part of me wanted to go after him. But my common sense kicked in and I thought, ‘just get out of here’.
“It’s a sad thing. These kids grow up using firearms in a way they shouldn’t. That’s what can lead to what happened on Sunday.
“But I just can’t get my head around how anyone can commit such a mindless act of terror.”
Brighton’s Eubank Jr saw another example of the wild side of Las Vegas in August when he was preparing for tomorrow’s fight by working out at Mayweather Jr’s gym.
He added: “After the McGregor fight, I was in a casino when a guy pulled out a gun and started shooting. I didn’t see who he was shooting at. I just hit the floor. We heard the rounds going off and it was mayhem.
“There was even one guy grabbing gambling chips off the tables while the shots were going off.”
Police reports recorded that officers rushed to Drai’s nightclub next to the Cromwell casino in the early hours after the Mayweather Jnr versus McGregor bout on August 26.
Eubank Sr’s plan when he sent his son to Las Vegas was to test his appetite for boxing in some of the sport’s toughest gyms.
He proved himself and became an amateur Golden Gloves champion of the Western United States in 2008.
A meeting with undefeated Turk Yildirim, 26, is Eubank Jr’s second defence of the IBO title following his impressive points defeat of Arthur Abraham in July.
The Stuttgart date is also a quarter-final in the new World Boxing Super Series knockout tournament.
Eubank Jr hopes to meet London WBA super-middleweight champ George Groves in a domestic mega-fight in the semi-finals next year.
Groves, 29, meets Swindon’s Jamie Cox in his quarter-final at Wembley on October 14.
Eubank Jr said: “Myself against Groves is the one the public want to see. That will be in England in January or February provided we do what we have to do first.”
- ITV Box Office will be showing Eubank Jr v Yildirim on Saturday October 7 at a cost of £9.95. The broadcast starts at 6.45pm.