Not unusual, perhaps, in the hyped-up world of professional boxing, Liebenberg and Grachev needed to be separated as they threw insults at each other.
“I’m not only going to knock you out, I’m going to knock out your teeth as well,” said Liebenberg to Grachev.
The pair received top billing in Saturday’s fight along with Thabo Sonjica’s defence of his International Boxing Organisation (IBO) junior featherweight title against Filipino Roli Gasca.
Liebenberg’s trainer Colin Nathan said it was normal for his boxer to be quite vocal before a fight.
“That’s Rayno, he’s all heart and enthusiasm. Three years ago when he first came to my gym, he knew little about boxing, “said Nathan.
“But I could tell by his spirited approach that he was going places.
“Now he’s a true professional and looking for a major title to add to his credentials.”
Russian-born Grachev, once rated a potential world-beater in the light-heavyweight division, had seen his career take a sharp downward slide in the past two years, losing three of his four fights during this period.
But the boxer known as The Russian Bear pointed out that his losses were against top, world-class fighters. The defeats came against Edwin Rodriguez, Lucien Bute and Malawian-born, Isaac Chilemba, and though now aged 32, he was intent on a comeback and regaining his old sharpness.
Saturday’s bill has come about after Rodney Berman’s Golden Gloves promotions called off their much-vaunted and publicised 2014 version of the R5-million Super Six light heavyweight event.
In a salvage operation, Golden Gloves have pieced together this replacement in which Sonjica will defend his IBO super bantamweight title against the Philippines’ 11th-ranked Gasca.
“Sonjica has emerged as one of South Africa’s most exciting boxers, while fighting mainly in his own backyard in the Eastern Cape and annexing the IBO title.” said Berman.
“His regular promoter in East London recently fell seriously ill and I took it on myself to further Sonyica’s career in the interim.”
Berman said the fight would give Sonjica exposure to a wider audience.
But the canny Golden Gloves promoter warned that an in-form, cagey Gasca would not be a pushover after winning his last three fights and moving up to a challenging position for the IBO title.
“In many ways this could be a make-or-break fight for Sonjica,” said Berman.
“A victory and an impressive performance at the Emperors Palace hotbed of South African boxing and the sky could be the limit for him. But in what is probably the biggest fight of his career, he’ll have to provide the goods.”