Amir Khan Returns with Easy Win
By: Mick Kane
Amir Khan defeated Australian Billy Dib by fourth round stoppage to win the WBC International welterweight title in Saudi Arabia.
Dib took the fight on a few weeks notice after Khan’s original opponent Neeraj Goyat was injured in a car crash meaning the WBC Pearl title was no longer up for grabs.
Saudi Arabia are looking to become more involved in boxing, after holding the final of the World Boxing Super Series super lightweight tournament last year in Jeddah. Boxing returned to Jeddah, the King Abdullah Sports City, as Khan demolished the blown up featherweight, Dib.
Khan had Dib down as early as the second when he landed a good left hook. Khan landed the same shot in the third which rocked Dib but this time he stayed on his feet.
The stoppage was not long in coming as Khan landed a couple of left hooks again and followed up with a quick fire combination forcing Dib to the canvas once more. Dib’s corner had seen enough and the towel was thrown in.
It was an easy win in the end for Khan, in a return to action after some people criticised him for appearing to quit against Terence Crawford in April, Khan was adamant he never quit after receiving a low blow against Crawford.
The chief support act on the night would see Hughie Fury face Samuel Peter in the heavyweight division.
Fury recorded a seventh round win after Peter had to withdraw after what seemed like an injury to his shoulder when the referee was breaking up the fighters.
Fury was in control of the fight at this point while Peter was using rough house tactics, he had a point dedicated in the fourth when he landed a shot after the referee had told the fighters to break. Peter then landed low blows in several rounds before he had to retire.
Saunders Achieves & Underwhelms In Equal Measure
By: Ste Rowen
At the Lamex Stadium on Saturday night, Billy Joe Saunders took the WBO super-middleweight crown at the first time of asking but left a lot to be desired for the fans; whilst Joe ‘The Juggernaut’ Joyce lumbered to an early stoppage victory over aged gatekeeper, Ustinov.
If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it; well that’s the mentally that BJ Saunders seemed to enter the ring with when he faced up against Shefat Isufi on Saturday night. The former WBO 160lb world champion saw his opponent, Shefat, as a steppingstone and used him as such. Right from the first bell, the Brit was cruising as he made Isufi constantly miss multiple combinations and fired back with quick hands but a lack of fight-ending power.
At one-point Saunders taunted Isufi in the same way he played with David Lemieux – making his opponent miss widely and then looking into the distance – but, whereas that night in Quebec Billy Joe was facing a legitimate threat with bout-changing power, tonight it was more like Drogon coming up against the Golden Company but less exciting and much more predictable. The away fighter had no answer, struggling to lay a single shot on his confident foe, who continued to call him forward to try and land cleanly.
There was a shaky moment for Saunders in the 6th, when Isufi landed hard with two right hooks that left Billy shakily stepping backwards onto the ropes, but he was savvy enough to move in for the clinch and avoid taking any more significant blows. But it was the only bright spark in a rough night for Shefat. Both men made it to the final bell and the judges scorecards returned as; 120-108, 118-110, 117-111, all in favour of Billy Joe Saunders.
Now a two-weight world champion, Saunders, 28-0 (13KOs) spoke post-fight,
‘‘He caught me in the 6th but he didn’t have me where my legs were gone. I haven’t been in a meaningful fight for 14 months. He’s number one with the WBO for a reason so he’s obviously good.
My ability will always get me further in the sport…I want the big fights, the big names, the big domestic fights and unifications. I moved up from middleweight cos none of them wanted to fight me.’’
It remains to be seen who Billy’s next opponent will be, but with names such as Chris Eubank Jr and Callum Smith, amongst others, fighting at 168lb, Saunders and promoter, Frank Warren will be hard pressed to find an easy matchup they can pass off on the fans if they try.
The co-main event at the Lamex stadium on Saturday night saw Joe Joyce continue his rise towards contending for the top brass of the glamour division, with a 3rd round stoppage of Alexander ‘The Great’ Ustinov. The ‘Juggernaut’ attempted to jump on his opponent immediately; striking from the first bell and forcing Ustinov to either fight fire with fire or look to make it awkward; and credit to the Russian he tried his best to fight back with his own hooks but struggled to get in close to the younger man.
Joyce has a tendency to feint in the slowest possible way and yet still make his opponent take a step back and flinch. So though the speed of the Olympic silver medallist might not be close to someone such as Tyson Fury, the power is clearly a big worry for his rivals. At the start of round 3, Joyce really went in for the finisher, forcing Ustinov to retreat in any and every gap in the ring he could find. Joe through his punches in bunches but began to struggle to land cleanly, even taking a big right hand from his opponent which only briefly halted the ‘Juggernaut’s’ offense. Then, with 1:12 left on the clock, Joyce landed a thudding left hook, dropping Alexander to the canvas, and signalling the end of the bout as Ustinov made a feeble attempt to beat the count.
It wasn’t slick, and it won’t live long in the memory, but it does improve Joyce to 9-0 (9KOs) and the heavyweight prospect spoke to BBC Sport post-fight,
‘‘I just thought I’d start fast and see what would come back…He’s a seasoned veteran and every round was different…I came in warm and ready and it’s great to put in a performance here in Stevenage.
I’d like a world title by the end of the year and set myself up for some really big fights in 2020.’’
ESPN+ Boxing Preview: Saunders Looking to Become Two-Weight Champion
By: Ste Rowen
It’s been a long time, if ever, that someone has recognised Saunders as the #1 in his division, but on Saturday night the slick southpaw has the opportunity to present himself to a new weight class when he steps into the ring with Shefat Isufi for the vacant WBO super-middleweight title.
‘‘I had a terrible 2018, my title was robbed off me.’’ Saunders, 27-0 (13KOs) told the media on Thursday, ‘‘I jumped at this fight when it was offered, and I will become a two-weight world champion.’’
The former world champion was stripped of his WBO middleweight belt last year just weeks before his showdown with Demetrius Andrade when the Brit failed a drugs test for the banned stimulant oxilofrine. It was a moment that set fire to any of the momentum Saunders had carried through from his 2017 dismantling of David Lemieux. Instead of Andrade in October, Billy Joe fought and beat Charles Adamu in December; a bout in which he weighed in at 178lb.
But training again with Ben Davison and sharing the gym with Tyson Fury, Sanders believes he’s back to his best and ready for more than just becoming a two-weight world champion,
‘‘I’ve been training with Ben and it’s been good, enjoyable and great bouncing around with Tyson. I’m enjoying boxing again.
If I do bring it, I should box his head off. Whatever he brings I will fetch ten-fold more…I’m not looking past Isufi, but I am looking for the big names. I know I’ve got it inside me, and nobody’s seen my best…I have to be on my A game and send a message to the other super middleweights.’’
Isufi, 27-3-2 (20KOs), shouldn’t, in theory, set too big of a challenge for the former middleweight champion. Sitting at number one of the WBO’s 168lb rankings, the Serbian-born German has a basic style that, if he doesn’t jump on Billy Joe early, will mean he’ll paying for it as the fight draws on.
Shefat, the former WBO ‘Inter-Continental’ holder also spoke ahead of Saturday,
‘‘If Billy Joe did win, I will congratulate him, but it will be the other way around. He is quick and a hard puncher, but I can also punch, and one punch can make the difference.’’
However, if Saunders is anywhere close to the fighter that defeated Lemieux, or Andy Lee, the UK could be crowning its newest world champion by Saturday night.
Co-main for Saturday’s night world title bout at the Lamex Stadium in Hertfordshire, is ‘The Juggernaut’ Joe Joyce as he attempts to topple Alexander Ustinov as Joyce continues his climb to the summit of the heavyweights.
Joyce, 8-0 (8KOs) was last seen in the ring making swift, brutal work of Bermane Stiverne’s head and body when, in February, the former WBC world champion was broken down by the thudding puncher in six rounds. The Commonwealth champion is keen to continue his knockout streak but is fully aware of the experience his opponent holds,
‘‘Ustinov is a very experienced, big, strong, tough and this is a step up. I have to beat him to get to the next level.’’
Alexander ‘The Great’ Ustinov at 42-years-old is undoubtedly coming to the end of his career and goes into Saturday’s matchup on the back of two defeats. In November 2017, the Russian, 34-3 (25KOs) was dropped en route to a 12-round decision loss to Manuel Charr, then one year later he was stopped by rising heavyweight star, Michael Hunter in nine rounds. The ‘Juggernaut’ however is looking at Ustinov’s strengths rather than his pitfalls,
‘‘I know what he has in his arsenal and what I have to do to beat him. He can punch but I take a shot and give one back.
I’m looking for nine KOs out of nine.’’
Gilberto Ramirez Opens the Door for Billy Joe Saunders to Make History
By: Shane Willoughby
Gilberto Ramirez vacated his WBO Super Middleweight Title on Monday; a title he has held since 2016, making 7 successful title defenses.
Ramirez looked impressive in his last bout moving to 40-0.
The Mexican was expected to relinquish his title last month after his stoppage of Tommy Karpency at Light Heavyweight. Gilberto Ramírez’s Jump up to 175lbs is inevitable and in the process, he has presented an amazing opportunity for Billy Joe Saunders to make history.
Saunders (27-0) will be fighting for the vacant WBO Super Middleweight title this Saturday against Shefat Isufi, looking to become only the 6th English born fighter to be a 2 weight-world champion.
Saunders could possibly join Nigel Benn, Chris Eubank Sr and Ricky Hatton with a victory over Isufi.
The British fighter was stripped of his WBO Middleweight title last year after failing a drug test for a nasal spray, but has since then, decided to continue his career at 168lbs.
If the former Middleweight champion is victorious this Saturday, it could present some big domestic fights for him, including a rematch with Eubank Jr and a possible unification fight with Callum Smith.
Similarly to Saunders, Ramirez being a former WBO champion, means that he is entitled to fight for the belt at the weight class above.
The Mexican could possibly become mandatory for the title at 175lbs, where Sergey Kovalev looks to be defending his title against Anthony Yarde.
Regardless what route Ramirez takes, it appears that his time at the Super-Middleweight division is over, and Britain may have a new world champion in the process.
Saunders Wants the Canelo Fight
By: Michael Kane
Billy Joe Saunders is due to face German based Albanian Shefat Isufi on May 18th at Stevenage FC’s Lamex Stadium for the vacant WBO world super middleweight title.
However one man is on his mind as he took to Frankwarren.com to call out Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez.
Canelo unified the WBC, WBA Super and IBF middleweight titles at the weekend with his win over Daniel Jacobs at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas on Saturday.
Former WBO world middleweight champion Saunders said, “I would love the Canelo fight, but does he want to fight me? I don’t think so.
“If they do want to fight me, ring me up. I am not asking for millions. Just be fair with me and we can get the show on the road.
“Canelo has cemented his name, made good money and is a superstar in the sport. I wouldn’t say he is avoiding me, but there are plenty of people he can pick apart from Billy Joe Saunders.
“That is a fact. Who wants to fight a slick southpaw who is hard to hit?
“It could be middleweight or super-middleweight. I want the big fights and that is a reason I am moving up to super-middleweight. I cannot get the big fights at middleweight.”
Jacob’s had agreed to a clause in that he couldn’t regain too much weight on the day of the fight, he came in 3.6 lbs over this and was penalised by approx $750,000.
Saunders said this wouldn’t restrict him.
“I wouldn’t be restricted for any weight clauses at all.
“Daniel Jacobs was clearly struggling to come in the next day only three pounds over the agreed weight. If he wanted to balloon up he would have been eight or nine pounds above what he was at the weigh-in.
“That has cost him a lot of money and I believe that took a bit of performance away from Jacobs.”
If Saunders can become a two weight world champion by adding the Super middleweight title, he would be interested in facing fellow Englishman WBA super champion Callum Smith in a unification bout.
Saunders said, “Callum is a good fighter and big, but I think people go on about size in this sport too much.
“We saw David Haye beating Nikolai Valuev. Size doesn’t matter in this sport.
“If you’re good enough, you’re good enough, end of and I believe I am good enough to beat Callum Smith. That is a fight I would entertain.”
Demetrius Andrade vs Billy Joe Saunders: The Makings of a Great Technical Fight
By: Waqas Ali
As we edge closer to the making of this bout, fans are filled with anticipation.
Former champion Billy Joe Saunders looks like he will get a chance to recapture his WBO middleweight crown as he appears to be close to fighting Demetrius Andrade, who holds the belt.
The pair were initially meant to fight on October 20th 2018, but when Saunders tested positive for a banned substance called Oxilofrine in August, it cost him a licence from the Massachusetts State Athletic Commission.
Saunders then vacated the belt in fear of being stripped.
Andrade (27-0) fought for the belt against Walter Kautondokwa and won by unanimous decision.
He then recently stopped Artur Akavov in the 12th round to make his first successful defence of the belt.
Andrade, 30, was then ordered by the WBO to negotiate a deal with Saunders within 30 days.
“They’ve called purse bids,” Saunders’ promoter Frank Warren said.
“We’ve got a negotiation period then we’ll go to purse bids.”
He continued, “Good news for Bill, we worked very hard to get him back in the number one spot. He should be the champion.”
Currently, Saunders is the no.1 challenger by the WBO and ranked no.3 by Ring Magazine in the middleweight division.
His recent bout was over a month ago when he fought on the undercard of Josh Warrington vs Carl Frampton in December 2018.
Saunders, 29, defeated Charles Adamu via fourth-round TKO. But the bout itself was not part of BT Sport’s live TV coverage.
It was his first win since defeating David Lemieux in December 2017.
Amongst boxing fans on social media Saunders is the favourite to win against Andrade.
According to a poll conducted by boxing fan page Editinking on Twitter, out of 4,900 plus voters, 65% of them picked Saunders by decision, 15% by KO/TKO and only 14% for Andrade by points.
Demetrius Andrade vs Billy Joe Saunders
Who wins? #AndradeSaunders
— EditinKing Boxing (@EditinKing) January 22, 2019
Saunders even tweeted as a response upon hearing the WBO’s request for Andrade to fight the Englishman.
Saying: “I’ll take that thank you ‘ #ITsMeAgain”
— billyjoesaunders (@bjsaunders_) January 21, 2019
The scorpion inside the system of Saunders is suddenly starving for its prey.
But what styles and statistics support each fighter?
Saunders has a record consisting of 27 wins and zero losses.
His height is five feet 11 inches and a reach of 71”. He’s fought once outside the UK and averaged 716,000 in terms of viewership for the main event against Lemieux, according to Showbuzz Daily.
In terms of competition, he’s fought Chris Eubank Jr, Andy Lee and David Lemieux.
According to Compubox review, Saunders throws more jabs (25) than he does with power (13) punches per round.
The average middleweight throws around 57 and lands at a rate of 16 per round. Whilst Saunders only lands at 10. His connecting of jabs rate at six, whereas the average fighter lands at four.
The defence of Saunders is a plus point when only 18% of punches landed by his opponents with seven landing per round. That’s only half of the middleweight average.
Saunders is often known to be a 12 round fighter and hardly looks for a knockout. Considering the fact that 13 of his 27 wins were by decision. In his last six wins, four of them were point’s wins.
He starts off cleanly using his footwork and jabbing to the head and body. He uses his head movement really well and avoids exchanges.
Andrade is a bit taller at 6 foot 1 and a reach of 73”. He is already a two-weight world champion and 17 of his 27 wins come by KO. In his last six wins, three were by decision and three by KO.
Andrade’s activity level is reasonably high, considering the fact that he throws around 60 punches per round and lands around 18.
Another stat of a plus point is the power punching department. He throws around 32 and lands at 14 punches per round. That is three times higher than the average middleweight. He has a connect percentage of 45% and rest of the middleweights land at 37%.
One must keep in mind that Lemieux also had a higher activity and landing rate than Saunders but did not do enough to win and had no solution whatsoever to the style of Saunders.
Nobody can underestimate the talent of both fighters and the kind of skills, styles and seriousness they bring to the table. The compatibility is great. The numbers suggest the kind of game each fighter likes to play. Saunders is more of a chess player and could as well lead in the jab category. Andrade could as well lead in the power and connecting rate. But many questions will be asked. How will Andrade keep up with the footwork and timing of Saunders? Will he be able to keep up with the activity rate? Will Saunders produce a thrilling performance against Andrade as he did with Lemieux?
Billy Joe Saunders Added To Warrington-Frampton 12/22 Manchester Bill
By Jake Donovan
Billy Joe Saunders will get to fight in 2018 after all.
The unbeaten former middleweight titlist will end more than a year’s worth of inactivity when he steps into the ring on December 22 in Manchester, England. Frank Warren, Saunders’ promoter announced that the Brit will appear on an already loaded undercard in supporting capacity to the sizzling main event between defending featherweight titlist Josh Warrington and former two-division champion Carl Frampton.
Saunders’ appearance is largely of the showcase variety, as his last-minute placement comes with a last-minute type of opponent. Awaiting the 29-year old will be Hungary’s Zoltan Sera (32-17-1, 22KOs), a 33-year old globetrotter who has been knocked out nearly every time he’s strayed from the Hungary/Slovakia region.
Still, it’s as uplifiting an ending that Saunders (26-0, 12KOs) can enjoy in what has otherwise been a year to forget.
The brash boxer represented Great Britain in the 2008 Beijing Olympics, a tour which ended in controversy and hasn’t come close to slowing down on that front since turning pro one year later. His career-best highlights—wins over Andy Lee to claim the middleweight title and a dominant decision win over former champ David Lemieux last December—were both squandered by inactivity due to injuries and a series of questionable out-of-the-ring decisions that have left him with just three fights in the past three years.
In the ring, Saunders remains as formidable a challenge as any middleweight on the planet. Getting him in the ring, however, has proven to be the greatest challenge of a career approaching 10 years in service. He was due to face countryman Martin Murray (who also appears on the December 22 undercard versus former tiltist Hassan N’Dam N’Jikam), but twice withdrew due to injury. The latter fallout was largely questioned by Murray and many in the industry, its timing interestingly convenient with Saunders being named as a possible foe for Gennady Golovkin and Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez at a point when the two middleweight superstars were in a stalemate in attempting to renegotiate plans for their rematch. Once they finally reached terms for their eventual September clash, Saunders moved on to a scheduled October title defense versus a fellow unbeaten 2008 Olympian in Rhode Island’s Demetrius Andrade in Boston, Massachusetts.
As has been the case throughout his three-year title reign, the end result was yet another canceled fight—this one resulting in Saunders being stripped of his middleweight title after testing positive for a banned substance. The Brit attributed the anomaly to an adverse effect from a nasal decongestant inhalation, but the Massachusetts State Athletic Commission didn’t buy his alibi in denying him a license during a special hearing less than two weeks out from fight night. Andrade went on to win the vacant title in a lopsided 12-round decision over Namibia’s Walter Kautondokwa, while Saunders vowed to get his career back on track and his belt back around his waist.
December 22 will mark the first step towards that rebuilding process—barring any more mishaps in Saunders’ bizarre career.
The show will air live on BT Sport in the United Kingdom and on ESPN+ in the United States. Also appearing on the bill, unbeaten featherweight Michael Conlan—a 2012 Olympic Bronze medalist in Rio and a highly controversial casualty of the 2016 Rio Olympics for Ireland—faces Jason Cunningham, while his good friend Paddy Barnes—a three-time Olympian and two-time Olympic Bronze medalist for Ireland—returns for the first time since a suffering a knockout loss in a failed title bid versus champ Cristofer Rosales earlier this year.
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.
Billy Joe Saunders Denied License in Massachusetts; Andrade, Kautondokwa To Vie For Interim Title
By Jake Donovan
Billy Joe Saunders’ year has gone from bad to worse in a hurry.
BoxingInsider.com has learned that the unbeaten but troubled British middleweight was denied a license by the Massachusetts State Athletic Commission (MSAC) during the board’s monthly meeting on Tuesday. The ruling greatly affects a planned October 20 show at TD Garden in Boston, where Saunders was due to defend his title versus Demetrius Andrade.
Saunders was asked to appear before the board to review his application status on Tuesday, which he did via speakerphone from England. His specific purpose for appearing was to detail the events that led to his testing positive for banned substance Oxilofrine on August 31 through testing conducted by Voluntary Anti-Doping Agency (VADA).
Trace amounts of the drug were evident in his system, to which he attributed to having ingested nasal decongestant spray upon learning of the results in late September and again at Tuesday’s hearing.
Saunders made a similar—and successful argument—back home, where he was cleared by the British Boxing Board of Control. His clearance stemmed from his status being classified as “out of competition”, per United Kingdom Anti-Doping (UKAD) which follows the code set forth by World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA).
Simply put, any test conducted prior to fight night is deemed out-of-competition, a point which Saunders and his representatives argued with MSAC.
While the excuse wasn’t necessarily dismissed by the commission, it also wasn’t found sufficient enough to sway the board who unanimously voted to deny his license, according to BI source Cory Blamire, a local freelance writer who was in attendance.
The incident drew comparisons to that of Major League Baseball pitcher Michael Kopech, who was handed a 50-game ban for testing positive for the very same substance as a 19-year old in the Boston Red Sox minor-league system. Kopech, now with the Chicago White Sox, denied that he willingly took the substance but nevertheless apologized for the outcome and was forced to accept his punishment.
Appearing before a state athletic commission residing in Red Sox country—with at least two board members boasting baseball roots—proved to be a detriment for Saunders’ cause. The British Traveller didn’t take too kindly to the ruling, at first confused as to his license status before reportedly telling the board to “suck my p***k.”
The show will still go on, but without Saunders who not only is off the show but now sees his days as a middleweight titlist come to an end. Francisco ‘Paco’ Valcárcel declared prior to the hearing that any such ruling that would result in Saunders not being able to compete on October 20 would result in his being stripped of the title.
As Saunders is granted an appeals process, Andrade (25-0, 16KOs) will remain eligible to fight for the organization’s interim title, as the unbeaten middleweight from Providence remains as the mandatory challenger. As earlier reported by BoxingInsider.com, the 2008 U.S. Olympian and former 154-pound titlist will now face the next highest-rated contender in the WBO middleweight rankings, Namibia’s Walter Kautondokwa.
Should Saunders’ appeal be denied, Valcárcel confirmed to BoxingInsider.com that the October 20 winner would then be elevated to full titlist.
Promoter Eddie Hearn—who will present the October 20 show through his Matchroom USA promotional outfit live on streaming app DAZN—was wise enough to secure a contingency plan in the event Saunders would not be able to compete. Kautondokwa (17-0, 16KOs) signed a contract on September 28 provisionally agreeing to face Andrade should the title become vacant.
The bout will mark a massive leap in competition for Kautondokwa, a former member of Namibia’s national amateur boxing team before turning pro in 2013. The unbeaten knockout artist—who turns 34 in November—will also be making his stateside debut, taking on a vastly more experienced boxer in Andrade, who will be fighting less than an hour from his hometown of Providence, Rhode Island.
Andrade hasn’t fought since a 12-round win over Alantez Fox last October, with the upcoming show marking 52 weeks to the day of that very ring appearance.
Meanwhile, Saunders will have to turn elsewhere for his next payday.
The 29-year old was due make the fourth defense of the title he won in a 12-round decision over Andy Lee in Dec. ’15. His title reign has been plagued by injuries and more infamously known for the fights that didn’t happen than the few defenses he’s managed in nearly three years.
For this event, Saunders (26-0, 12KOs) to earn a career-high purse for this event, which in part would help subsidize a £100,000 fine handed down by the BBBoC for his role in a social media video where offered a local woman (and apparent drug addict) £150 worth of drugs to perform a sex act.
It was hoped by Saunders and his team that he would at least be cleared to fight on October 20, which would’ve at least provided a high note to an otherwise miserable year. He came into 2018 on the heels of a 12-round whitewash of former middleweight titlist David Lemieux last December, but has now seen three scheduled bouts this year fall by the wayside.
Saunders was due to face countryman Martin Murray this past March, a bout that was postponed to June but ultimately canceled altogether when the reigning titlist claimed a training camp injury. It was widely speculated—by Murray, among others—that Saunders withdrew to instead make himself available in the event that Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez and Gennady Golovkin were unable to reach terms for their rematch.
It became moot when Alvarez and Golovkin fought again on September 15, four months pushed back from their original May 5 date. The postponement was due to Alvarez receiving a six-month suspension for having tested positive for Clenbuterol earlier in the year. The wildly popular boxer from Mexico attributed it to contaminated meat, an ongoing epidemic in his home country.
The Nevada State Athletic Commission accepted his response and documented proof that came with it, but still held him responsible for any substance that enters his body, regardless of means of consumption. Saunders was among Alvarez’ most vocal critics, his comments having since coming back to haunt him in light of recent developments.
Billy Joe Saunders Team Issues a Statement in Response to Positive Test
By: Michael Kane
Billy Joe Saunders team have been quick to release a statement in response to report a earlier that Saunders has failed a VADA drug test.
According to the statement released on Frank Warrren’s website the product concerned is allowed to be used out of competition and the British Boxing Board of Control have confirmed Saunders is not in breach of BBBoC or UKAD (United Kingdom Anti Doping agency) regulations.
It suggests his fight in October is not in doubt.
The statement also says the product was a common decongestant nasal spray.
Following reports of an adverse analytical finding in a test carried out by the Voluntary Anti-Doping Association (“VADA”) on WBO World Middleweight Champion, Billy Joe Saunders, we can confirm that the product concerned is permitted to be used ‘Out of Competition’ by United Kingdom Anti-Doping (“UKAD”) in line with the regulations of the World Anti-Doping Agency (“WADA”).
For the avoidance of doubt, the product in question was a common decongestant nasal spray.
The British Boxing Board of Control (“BBBofC”) under whose jurisdiction Billy Joe Saunders is licensed are affiliated only to UKAD/WADA.
Today the BBBofC have confirmed that Mr Saunders is not in breach of BBBofC or UKAD anti doping regulations and is therefore in good standing and is licensed to box and defend his World Title on October 20th.
Mr. Saunders has been tested a number of times in 2018, all negative, his last out of competition test by UKAD was on 24th September 2018.
Billy Joe Saunders Reportedly Fails VADA Test
By: Michael Kane
It’s not been a great few days if you are Billy Joe Saunders.
First he was fined £100000 by the British Boxing Board of Control for a video he posted in which he appeared to offer a woman money for a sex act then told her to punch a man walking along the road, which she did, Saunders then drove away laughing.
Photo Credit: Billy Joe Saunders Twitter Account
Now there are reports he has failed a Voluntary Anti-Doping Association drug test.
The reports suggest he tested for the banned substance oxilofrine, which is a stimulant. ESPN’s Dan Rafael was the first to break the news.
Saunders, the current WBO middleweight champion, is due to defend his belt against Demetrious Andrade om October 20th. However this news will put that bout seriously in doubt. Saunders could also face being stripped of his title.
Oxilofrine is a stimulant that can increase performance as it helps to burn fat, it could increase adrenaline production, endurance and help with the oxygenation of the blood.
Several athletes have tested positive for the drug in the past.
It seems Saunders has taken to Twitter to laugh the claims off,
😂 some shit 😂
— billyjoesaunders (@bjsaunders_) September 27, 2018
Canelo and Golovkin: What’s Next for Both
By: Oliver McManus
With the benefit of 72 hours to sleep on things, it’s time to address what’s next for Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez and Gennady ‘GGG’ Golovkin after their ferocious rematch at the T-Mobile Arena and, whilst some of these options are a little more realistic than others, we can be dreamers, so here are my top picks (trilogy aside!) –
This one seems a little adventurous to begin with but there are two fights that makes me stand up with interest, with regards to Canelo, and they both involve fellow Mexicans in what would make the perfect Cinco de Mayo bouts for 2019 – whilst it’s likely that Alvarez would look to fight in December first, these fights could brew nicely into the early months of next year.
First up is Jaime Munguia and given the size of the WBO 147lb champion, it’s equally likely that this bout could be taken at middle as it is welterweight and we’ve seen Munguia really start to stamp his authority over the course of 2018 with the youngster playing the role of underdog in his title challenge against Sadam Ali and, marginally, in his first defence against Liam Smith.
The sheer size and explosivity of Munguia means the fight with Canelo would guarantee action – akin to the last two with Golovkin – and of course there’s that added all-Mexican spice.
Looking into the super middleweight and you find another WBO champion in Gilberto Ramirez who has failed to really find any momentum over the last couple of years despite defending the title on four occasions and Zurdo has made no bones about his desire to land a big fight.
We know Canelo looks BIG when out of the ring – I’m not even going to go near the whole clenbuterol situation – and even at the catchweight of 164 for his bout with Julio Cesar Chavez he looked comfortable. I mean, admittedly, not a great performance but it wasn’t because of the extra weight.
More of a tactician than Munguia and, indeed, Golovkin, Ramirez would represent a different type of opponent for Alvarez with the opportunity to show a different set of skills than the, relatively, brawling nature over the last few months and Canelo, certainly, is an elite level boxer not just fighter. (If that makes sense).
Munguia and Ramirez, starting to sound like a fajita, but I want to see ANOTHER all Mexican encounter involving Canelo because you just cannot beat those atmospheres and the two champs either side of middleweight appear to be the frontrunners in that respective category.
Saunders vs Golovkin
A fight that has been mooted for a long, long time and it seems that now could be the most realistic timing for the super-fight to take place and on the assumption that the WBO champion can navigate his way past Demetrius Andrade on October 20th , this would provide the opportunity for GGG to bounce straight back into the world title scene.
For Saunders it provides him with the chance to carry on with the momentum he picked up in Canada last December with a, let’s not beat around the bush, masterclass performance against David Lemieux and, whilst his antics outside of the ring have been less than respectable, in the boxing world a victory over Golovkin would cement his credibility as one of the best.
An awkward southpaw who dictates the tempo of the bout from the centre of the ring, Saunders poses a distinctly different threat to that of Canelo but is equally capable of getting dirty on the inside and involved in a firefight as he is executing a technical, counter-punching gameplan.
Golovkin doesn’t need warm up bouts following his first ever career loss, he’s an elite fighter, certainly a Top 15 pound for pound and, with only a few fights left in him, it seems logical to target the fight with Saunders because it’s one we know he is mightily confident in winning and if he were to be able to reclaim the single belt that has alluded him his whole career then, surely, we could be looking at the best middleweight ever?
Saunders vs Golovkin make sense, it’s been in the works for a long time and it’s a bout that both men are confident of winning so let’s get it on!
Canelo vs Lemieux
We’ll keep this section short and snappy because I think we’re all aware that David Lemieux, especially after the pasting he got via Billy Joe Saunders, is in a different league, technically, to the world champions but following a devastating knockout over Spike O’Sullivan he finds himself back in the fold for a world title.
The one that can’t be argued with is the power of the Canadian who, when given a chance, is able to unfurl bombs in the direction of whichever Tom, Dick or Harry is standing in front of him. Having said that, he is equally susceptible to stinking out a stadium when he fails to turn up for a fight and that happens alarmingly often for him to be taken seriously as a contender.
It’s very hot and cold with David Lemieux but even when he’s on top of his game it’s nothing that would really send Canelo back to Mexico quivering in his boots looking for some more of that steak – the threat of Lemieux is easily nullified by Canelo taking the fight to the Canadian, boxing at a high tempo for the duration of the fight with a strong lead jab.
Canelo vs O’Sullivan was being lined up for December and, thusly, it makes sense that O’Sullivan’s conqueror is also in the frame.
The truth of the matter though, like it or not, is that this would only serve as a stay busy fight until a big clash in May.
Retirement for GGG?
What is left for Gennady Gennadyevich Golovkin to achieve in the sport of boxing? With seemingly little possibility of moving a weight class, the former unified middleweight champion has literally been there, done that and seen it all.
20 successful defences of his belt, five as unified champion, the 36 year old possess a record matched only by the great Bernard Hopkins and, looking through the eras, you’d be hard pressed to suggest he wouldn’t have found success across them all.
A World Amateur champion and Olympic silver medallist, to boot, Golovkin has a career, both amateur and professional, to be immensely proud of and in the eyes of many an onlooker he has got nothing left to prove.
On many scorecards he should have won that first fight with Canelo, the second was a stormer and there can be no loss of legitimacy for losing what was, let’s be honest, a fight that could have gon either way; you get the feeling that Golovkin and Canelo could go toe to toe 60 times and it would never get boring, 20 would be a win for Golovkin, 20 for Canelo and the other 20 a draw… it’s just that sort of a fight!
But for the love of the sport and the pride he gets from fighting, there is nothing left to achieve for Triple G so, if you ask me, hang those gloves up, kick back and just enjoy life Gennady!
Of course the fight we all want to see, well most of us anyway, is ANOTHER rematch between the two protagonists of the middleweight division and why shouldn’t we want that? 24 rounds of simply stunning action during which neither fighter could comprehensively claim to be the better man, throw in some controversy, a bit of bad blood, and we have got ourselves not just a fight but an EVENT.
The first two fights were must-see entertainment that captured the imagination of the boxing community and there’s very little reason to believe a third would be anything but the same – the only question’s that really need answering are where, when and how much is it going to cost us?
Preliminary talks are being held between the parties, allegedly, so hopefully we’ll be able to see the trilogy contest sooner rather than later because there’s some unfinished business to take care of and it’s a fight that I, certainly, will never get bored of.
Having said that, what if Golovkin wins the third fight? Does that mean we’ll have to have a fourth?!
Boxing Insider Interview with Martin Bakole and Billy Nelson: A Contender from the Congo
By: Oliver McManus
Martin Bakole and Billy Nelson aren’t, on paper, two names that you’d associate with one another but, forget paper, because the relationship that they have brings out the best in each other and it really is as simple as that with Nelson relishing the prospect of guiding his Congolese heavyweight to the very top.
Billy rang me on Monday, about 10 minutes after he and Martin touched down at the hotel in Sheffield – where they’ve been sparring Anthony Joshua – and Bakole started off by telling me about growing up in Congo, how his father used to be a boxer and that he and his brother, Ilunga Makabu, would bounce off each other trying to be the best.
There were relatively few details at this point with Bakole struggling to understand my thick Southern accent so for the duration of the interview I had to rely on Billy, kindly, relaying the questions back in his unmistakable Scottish voice.
Talking of Scotland and his relationship with Billy, the fighter told me, “Yes, I’m getting used to it (the rain), I am a vegetarian, not only in Scotland but everywhere…
… it doesn’t matter where the meat comes from Ollie, he won’t eat it, there’s actually an African shop nearby where he gets his stuff from but I do try to get him trying the Scottish stuff…
…but the relationship with Billy is a very good one, I trust him, it’s great, it’s lovely, lovely, I always listen to what he tells me and he knows what he’s doing. My career has moved on since I’ve met him, I’m getting better, I’m having bigger fights. He gets me good sparring and I’m happy”.
Billy echoed those sentiments and I asked him just how good Martin was in comparison to his former charges, “Martin is by far the best fighter I have ever trained, he is technically fantastic, naturally gifted which makes my job a bit easier but the most important part for me is just tweaking some of the areas, fight management and guiding him through, he really is a fast learner”.
11 and 0 as a professional boxer, having made his debut back in 2014, there was a refreshing honesty from Martin when it came to that first fight – against Cecil Smith, also making his debut, at Emperors Palace in South Africa – “It was scary, harder than I thought it would be, in the amateurs there are head guards and I wasn’t used to it”.
Any fears that he initially had have been long put to bed with the Airdrie resident first fighting in the United Kingdom in August 2016 and having seven fights since, his last two fights have been against DL Jones and Ali Baghouz which, whilst not the highest level of operators, Martin dispatched with quicker than Daniel Dubois and Tony Yoka, respectively, and yet there is a comparative lack of attention being shone on Bakole.
Nelson was tactful on this, insisting it was just a case of biding their time, “It’s a fair point, they are British heavyweights but I can assure you that Martin Bakole’s time will come and Daniel Dubois will not fight Martin Bakole, not in a month of Sundays, Martin is just far too good right now. As good a fighter as Daniel is, Ollie, Martin is far superior so we don’t worry about getting the hype around us, Martin does the talking in the ring”
Fighting DL Jones back in June saw Bakole drop the challenger on two occasions on his way to a 62 second knockout, including the count, but it was by far the test that the IBO Continental champion was hoping for with a, unnamed, former European challenger withdrawing from the bout –
“I was beginning to worry that we wouldn’t get an opponent, at least DL Jones stepped up to the plate but look at the difference between Martin’s first fight with me – against (Dominic) Akinlade – and a few months previously Akinlade had gone 10 rounds with Nathan Gorman who is well thought of, we’ve sparred him, but Martin destroyed Akinlade in one round. DL Jones went three rounds with Dubois, Martin Bakole broke his nose and fractured his eye socket in 62 seconds. But the thing is, if you look at the Top 12 in Britain, I’d say at least eight of them will say ‘no, thank you’.”
Martin interjected at this point, “I think that was my best fight, or the guy I fought before, it’s a difficult name to say (Ali Baghouz), but DL Jones was a good fight, I got a very good knockout and it made me happy”.
Finding opponents is an area Martin doesn’t have to worry about, with the Congolese giant saying, “I don’t mind who I fight, I will not pick, I just want to fight” but it is something that causes Nelson nightmares, “we’ve offered Dave Allen the fight two or three times but he won’t take it, he was a bit derogatory to Martin but we made up and sparred two rounds and that’s really concreted that he won’t fight Martin, after that. The thing is that Martin has been round the country to spar, he sparred Tyson Fury a few years ago, Dillian Whyte called off sparring the night before, everyone knows what Martin has done in sparring and I got a coach telling me “play the game”. I told him “we don’t play games”, we’re here to spar Anthony Joshua for the next week but Martin doesn’t seem him as a sparring partner, they both need quality sparring and you’d pay good, good money to watch the spars”.
Attention swiftly turned to Martin’s next fight, on October 13th, against Michael Hunter – former Oleksandr Usyk challenger – and Bakole seemed to relax in prospect of this fight, taking a deep breath before telling me, “I am ready to show to the world who I am, that I will be a future world champion and I’m not going to be scared, I’m going to show people how good I am with a big fight, I will stop people saying “Who is Martin Bakole?. I will make a statement, whenever I knock him out, it will be a statement.”
That confidence was expanded on when he opened up about sparring with Anthony Joshua, “it gives me good confidence, no-one else wants to spar me but Anthony Joshua and his coach know that I am the best so when I spar him it is very good sparring, high level and it keeps me focussed. Helps my intelligent and he always texts me after sparring saying thank you and it gives me confidence going into my fights”.
A much mooted fight was that of Joe Joyce, who claimed Bakole needed to bring more to the table, “Martin is fighting Michael Hunter, who knocked out Joe’s last opponent, Kiladze, so it’s hypocritical of him to say that, I think we’ll go down different routes now but we would fight him in a heartbeat.”
Despite hailing from the Congo, Bakole will be eligible for a British Boxing Board of Control License from next year, allowing him to fight for domestic and European titles, and I asked him if that was a fight (Agit Kabayel) that interested him, “I think I am better than that level, I am higher than that”.
It was pleasing to hear the quiet character showing such confidence and Billy was happy with the progress made under him, “the guys just don’t want to fight him but he’s knocked Akinlade, Baghouz, DL Jones out in one round and the only guy to go the distance under me was Sokolowski, no excuses that day because we travelled from Scotland to London at about 6.30 in the morning – I had three in title fights the night before but Martin didn’t want to go down with anyone else – and he gave that guy a hell of a beating, broke his nose, the worst broken nose I’ve ever seen and Sokolowski is one tough guy”.
This was another one of those rare occasion where Martin came in with a declaration of his own, “I will fight anyone, I will beat anybody, it doesn’t worry me who they are, I will not say this one or that one but whoever wants to fight me, I will be thankful but I will beat them. I would like to be out 4, 5 time next year.”
I asked him what he thought of fighting on TV and in his new home country of Scotland, “It is nice to be on TV, people watching me live and it makes me feel nice, thank you to them for watching and for Cyclone Promotions. I love fighting in Scotland. I like the people here, they make me feel loved and happy”.
The last word, fittingly, should go to Bakole who had a very simple, emphatic answer for me when I was cheeky enough to ask if anyone could beat him – “NO”.
Boston Press Conf Quotes: Billy Joe Saunders vs. Demetrius Andrade, Farmer vs. Tennyson
Eddie Hearn, President of Matchroom Boxing USA:
“I am thrilled to be bringing this triple-header of World championship action to the TD Garden in Boston.
“We want to take major fight nights to major cities across America that haven’t had the chance to witness this great sport in the flesh, that’s why we’re in Chicago on October 6 and then in Boston on October 20 – we’re taking this great sport to great cities in great arenas like the TD Garden with the best night of boxing the city has seen.”
Photo Credit: Ed Mulholland
Billy Joe Saunders – Hertfordshire, England – 26 (12) – 0 – defending his WBO World Middleweight title against Demetrius Andrade
“This is such a big fight. The two main men at Middleweight at the moment is GGG and Canelo – and neither of them want to fight me or Demetrius. There’s a lot of smoke and mist in the division right now, and when it clears up I will be the man standing there.
“All jokes and trash talk aside, this is going to be a really good fight. Does anyone want to fight Demetrius? No. Does anyone want to fight me? No. We have to fight each other to prove who the number one guy is. Technically, we are the best two in the division, and the winner is going to be number one. I’m World champion, I’ve been more active, I’ve boxed the better opposition – but I have to beat this man.
“David Lemieux is a bum, a bum – he’s not worth talking about and I don’t take any credit from beating him. But I’ve been in with and easily handled World-class opposition – I’ve been in with Chris Eubank Jr and dealt with him, been in with Andy Lee and dealt with him, Willie Monroe had no heart or desire to win.
“There’s too much at stake in this fight to even think about losing – and I will prove that I am number one. If I turn up at my 100 per cent best, it’s good enough to beat him. He’s a great fighter and he’s been avoided, our paths have crossed and we have to fight. The winner is number one.”
Demetrius Andrade – Providence, Rhode Island – 25 (16) – 0 – challenging WBO World Middleweight champion Billy Joe Saunders.
“It’s an honour to be fighting at the TD Garden, we’re giving you the best fight in boxing this year, you have to be there.
“Billy Joe is a great fighter, an undefeated southpaw, he’s ugly looking, but he can fight – but your boy Demetrius Andrade always come through. Never have I failed to come out with the victory.
“It’s going to be an entertaining build up and I’m thrilled to be working with Eddie Hearn, he’s bringing boxing at the highest level out here – there’s no sport like boxing, and we’re showcasing it in Boston.
“We’re going to be in shape to do 12 rounds, I know I have the bigger dog inside me than Billy Joe, and I’m going to unleash that on him on October 20.”
Photo Credit: Ed Mulholland
Tevin Farmer – Philadelphia, Pennsylvania – 26 (5) – 4 (2) – 1 – defending his IBF World Super-Featherweight title against James Tennyson.
“It’s been a long time coming for me to fight as a World champion. October 20, we’re coming to bring the pain. The last time I fought in Boston I fought Emanuel Gonzalez in June 2014 and it changed my life.
“I don’t know much about James but you don’t get to this level for no reason and I know he’s going to come to fight and try to beat Tevin Farmer. I’ve been one of the hottest fighters over the last few years, to beat me, he’s going to need to bring a knife and a gun because it’s not going to be easy – he needs to make sure he brings his A-game.”
James Tennyson – Belfast, Northern Ireland – 22 (18) – 2 (2) – challenging IBF World Super-Featherweight champion Tevin Farmer.
“It’s amazing to be involved in such a huge bill in a great city like Boston – and it’s going to be even better when I leave with the IBF World title.”
Katie Taylor – Bray, Ireland – 10 (5) – 0 – defending her WBA and IBF World Lightweight titles against Cindy Serrano.
“It’s great to be here, I love this city and it’s going to be like a homecoming fight for me with all the Irish fans living here. I want to thank Cindy for taking this fight, these are the types of fights that I absolutely relish, it’s going to be a really exciting clash alongside some brilliant fighters on the rest of the bill, I can’t wait.”
Cindy Serrano – Brooklyn, New York (born in Puerto Rico) – 27 (10) – 5 – 3 – challenging WBA and IBF World Lightweight champion Katie Taylor.
“Katie is a tremendous fighter and a hard worker so I know it’s going to be a hard fight, but a great fight. I am a great fighter too and not only can we both fight, we look good doing it – and we’re going to prove that on October.
Kid Galahad – Sheffield, England – 24 (15) – 0 – facing Toka Kahn Cleary in a final eliminator for the IBF World Featherweight title.
“We’re not here to play marbles, we’re here to take over. I’m over here to hurt this man, real bad. Me and Billy Joe Saunders are not joking – we’re coming to get big wins and in style.
Toka Kahn Cleary – Providence, Rhode Island – 25 (17) – 1 (1) – facing Kid Galahad in a final eliminator for the IBF World Featherweight title.
“It’s great to be on this huge bill alongside my big brother Demetrius Andrade and a lot of great fighters. I work very hard in the gym and I belong on the big stage, I promise you that after October 20, Toka Kahn Cleary is going to be fighting for a World title.”
Billy Joe Saunders – Demetrius Andrade Fight Promotion Kicks Off In Entertaining Fashion
By: Sean Crose
Some press conferences are boring. Some are so over the top, they’re off-putting. Friday’s kickoff for the WBO middleweight championship of the world between champion Billy Joe Saunders and Demetrius Andrade was downright entertaining. Andrade decided to show his patriotism for the crowd gathered in Boston by dressing as a colonial soldier while England’s Saunders had some gems of his own to deliver. The fight, which goes down October 20th at Boston’s TD Garden, is being promoted by Eddie Hearn, and will have a strong undercard, featuring such notables as Tevin Farmer, Katie Taylor and Scott Quigg.
“The red jackets are here!” Andrade yelled in reference to the red uniformed British soldiers who used to occupy Boston at the dawn of the American Revolution. “We look good,” Saunders quipped in response, “but we’re mean m—–f—–s!” It may have been a bit vulgar at times, but this kickoff was as good natured as it was rowdy. Here were two fighters, both flamboyant, who seemed to actually like each other on a personal level, but were not afraid to go at it with the verbal jabs. Unlike last year’s Mayweather-McGregor pre fight tour, no one here seemed to be trying too hard.
“Billy Joe Saunders, yes, he’s a great fighter,” said Andrade. “Southpaw. Undefeated. Ugly looking. But he is a great fighter, yes.” Saunders took a moment to note the seriousness nature of the boxing business. While bringing up the fact that Canelo-Golovkin 2 is currently boxing’s big ticket, he added this dig at his fellow middleweights: “Does anybody want to fight Demetrius Andrade?” he asked. “Does anybody want to fight me? No.” Saunders made it clear that the two best men at middleweight aren’t Canelo or Golovkin, but Andrade and himself. “Technically,” he said, “we are the two best in the division and the winner of this fight will prove to be number one.”
Aside from the fact that there seems to be no bad blood between the combatants, another thing that separates Saunders-Andrade from Canelo-GGG 2 is the fact that both Saunders and Andrade are known as scientific fighters. In other words, the slickness and skill of both men can supersede the thrill factors that they can being to a bout. Saunders’ match last year against a way over his head David Lemieux, however, showed that slickness and skill can make for an entertaining fight. “This is going to be a really, really good fight,” said Saunders. “October 20th you have to be there,” claimed Andrade, “you have to see it.”