Billy Joe Saunders to fight for old title after being reinstated following suspension
PUBLISHED: 15:05 24 January 2019 | UPDATED: 15:05 24 January 2019
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Billy Joe Saunders will be given the chance to regain his WBO world middleweight title after being reinstated following a six-month suspension for a failed drugs test.
The Hatfield boxer was forced to relinquish his title in October after first testing positive for a banned stimulant and then being denied a licence by the Massachusetts State Athletic Commission ahead of his mandatory defence against Demetrius Andrade in Boston.
The test carried out by the Voulntary Anti-Doping Association showed higher than allowed levels of oxilofrine, a stimulant, but Saunders said that was due to use of a “common decongestant nasal spray”.
But the WBO has now lifted the ban after being petitioned by the 29-year-old and made him the number one contender for the title, won by Andrade in a hastily rearranged bout with Walter Kautondokwa.
The full statement said: “Based on the evidence ratifying complete fulfillment of all imposed conditions on behalf of Mr Saunders, we hereby terminate immediately his suspension from any WBO sanctioned contest.
“And consequently [we] recommend the WBO World Ratings Committee official reinstatement of Mr Saunders within the WBO Middleweight Division Ratings as the number one contender.”
During his ban Saunders had to submit numerous clean random drug tests actively engaged in charity and community work with disadvantaged children.
The WBO also gave both Frank Warren and Eddie Hearn, promoters of Saunders and Andrade, 30 days to negotiate a deal for the bout.
Both men have fought once since the original clash was cancelled.
Saunders faced off against Charles Adamu in Manchester in December, although he was well over the weight for middleweight.
He was allowed to box because the substance he tested positive for is not banned in the UK except on fight night.
Andrade meanwhile made his first defense earlier this month when he stopped Artur Akavov in the 12th round at Madison Square Garden in New York.