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Andrade-Kautondokwa Now For Full WBO Title; Saunders Relinquishes Crown


By Jake Donovan

Demetrius Andrade and Walter Kautondokwa no longer have to worry about vying for interim title status, as their October 20 clash in Boston will now come with the full World Boxing Organization (WBO) middleweight title at stake.

The development is just the latest plot twist in a main event that continues to change in principals and significance.

“Just confirmed from (Francisco) Paco Valcárcel (WBO President)—Demetrius ‘Boo Boo’ Andrade (versus) WBO #2 (Walter) Kautondokwa will now be for vacant 160 lb. WBO world title,” Eddie Hearn, Andrade’s promoter confirmed Thursday on social media.

The bout—which will air live on streaming service DAZN USA—itself is Plan B to the originally scheduled title fight showdown between unbeaten challenger Andrade and undefeated British middleweight Billy Joe Saunders for the latter’s title. Those plans were scrapped on Tuesday, when Saunders—who tested positive for banned substance Oxilofrine on August 31—was denied a boxing license by the Massachusetts State Athletic Commission.

Saunders and his promoter, Frank Warren threatened to appeal the outcome as well as any negative ruling that would come from WBO who previously stated that the defending titlist would be stripped should be not be able to compete on October 20.

Such actions are well within the bylaws of the WBO, who earlier in the week declared that Andrade and Kautondokwa would compete for the interim title. They were prepared to hear Saunders’ case before making a final decision, but instead had it made for them.

“We did not strip (Saunders) of the title,” Valcárcel clarified to BoxingInsider.com when asked of Saunders’ current status. “He relinquished the belt voluntarily. The (Andrade-Kautondokwa) fight will now be for the vacant title.”

Just like that, Andrade (25-0, 16KOs) is now right back in the mix to compete for a major title in his second weight division. The 30-year old from Providence, Rhode Island has seen an uneven run in the pro ranks following his time as a member of the 2008 U.S. Olympic boxing team, but has remained undefeated and managed two title reigns at 154 pounds.

Andrade only managed one defense between the two tours—a 7th round stoppage over mercifully outgunned Brian Rose in June ‘14—before being stripped while his career fell in promotional disarray.

Inactivity has plagued his career, but he still managed to position himself for a title fight with Jack Culcay last March. Andrade traveled to Germany and managed a split decision win on the road to win a secondary title, but vacated without a single defense in favor of a middleweight campaign. Just one fight has followed, a 12-round victory over Alantez Fox last October—which will have come exactly 52 weeks ago come fight night.

Meanwhile, Kautondokwa (17-0, 16KOs) takes a major step up in class as he also makes his stateside debut.

The 33-year old from Namibia has not fought since registering a 5th round knockout of Argentina’s Billi Godoy in his hometown of Windhoek, Namibia, where the bulk of his five-year career has taken place. As far back as his knockout win over Obodai Sai last June in Ghana–his one career bout outside of Namibia—he has lobbied for a shot at Saunders.

Now he winds up taking his place.

By relinquishing his title, Saunders officially ends a title reign that dates back to his Dec. ’15 win over Andy Lee but has been marred by injuries, numerous fight cancellations and erratic out-of-the-ring behavior.

In all, just three defenses came of Saunders reign—none since a 12-round whitewash of former titlist David Lemieux last December—while seeing more than a half-dozen fights either canceled outright or falling apart at the negotiating table.

The past several weeks haven’t been too kind, to say the least. Saunders found himself in the midst of a food fight with heavyweight titlist Deontay Wilder in August, flinging a chicken dinner at the unbeaten American before fleeing the scene.

The two hugged it out the very next day, but it was the least of Saunders’ troubles. He was issued a hefty £100,000 fine by the British Boxing Board of Control for having offered a local woman (and apparent drug addict) £150 worth of drugs to perform a sex act. The incident was not only captured on video, but posted on social media by Saunders, who later apologized for his actions and accepted the fine.

His troubles further compounded in late September, when it was revealed he’d failed an August 31 test through Voluntary Anti-Doping Agency (VADA). Because the substance for which he tested positive came “out-of-competition”, he was cleared by United Kingdom Anti-Doping (UKAD) and the BBBoC.

The Massachusetts commission wasn’t as kind, as stateside commissions tend to take VADDA test results at face value. Simply, a zero tolerance policy is recognized rather than distinguishing between substances being ingested in or out of competition.

No other disciplinary action has come of the session, although Valcárcel announced on Thursday his intentions to suggest to the WBO Executive Committee that Saunders be issued a six-month suspension for his action.

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