Billy Joe Saunders could be stripped of title after being refused licence for Andrade fight
PUBLISHED: 10:24 10 October 2018 | UPDATED: 10:24 10 October 2018
Billy Joe Saunders looks set to be stripped of his WBO world middleweight title after being refused a licence to box in his planned defence with Demetrius Andrade.
The Hatfield champion was due to face the American at TD Gardens in Boston on October 20 but those plans were thrown out of the window after Massachusetts State Athletic Commission (MSAC), who were due to sanction the fight, voted against granting him a licence.
A statement from WBO president Francisco Valcárcel Mulero said: “It is unfortunate that a boxer as talented as Saunders is facing this controversy and will not be able to defend the title.
“The WBO will examine the situation with due diligence and proceed according to its rules and regulations [to] decide which is the proper course of action.”
Valcárcel, a practising attorney, added that if Andrade fights the first available contender, the WBO championship committee will consider sanctioning the bout.
Andrade’s promoter, Eddie Hearn, has said he would look to secure a bout for the vacant title in the event Saunders is stripped of his crown.
That appears to be Namibian Walter Kautondokwa.
The problems for Saunders all stem from the 29-year-old returning an adverse finding in a Voluntary Anti-Doping Association (VADA) test in August.
The substance found, a stimulant called oxilofrine, is only banned by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) and UK Anti Doping in competition, something Saunders wasn’t when tested.
But testers VADA say the stimulant is prohibited at all times, which is what MSAC have based their decision on, despite usually adhering to the WADA list.
Frank Warren said his the Hatfield champion took a “common decongestant nasal spray” which contained the oxilofrine
It has been a tough year for Saunders who has already had two fights cancelled this year.
He was due to face Martin Murray in April but pulled out due to a hand injury and hamstring issues forced a cancellation of their rescheduled June date.
And in September he was fined £100,000 by the British Boxing Board of Control for misconduct after a video was posted on social media in which the fighter offers a woman £150 worth of drugs to perform a sex act.