Saunders and Andrade miss each other again as Hatfield man goes for world super middleweight title
PUBLISHED: 14:36 18 February 2019
Billy Joe Saunders is back and gunning for another world title – although this time he plans to do it in another weight.
The former WBO middleweight champion was forced to relinquish his strap after adverse findings in a VADA drugs test.
That robbed the Hatfield fighter of a clash with Demetrius Andrade in Boston, his opponent for last October’s fight that never was going on to claim the belt.
And the pair were seemingly all set to finally get it on after the WBO made him the number one contender for his old title.
But the unbeaten 29-year-old has instead opted to challenge Shefat Isufi for the vacant WBO super middleweight crown at the SSE Arena, Wembley, in April.
He said: “It is a brilliant opening for me. You’ve got these rumours that Andrade is going for shoulder surgery, as well as the financial side of it with the split - it all doesn’t add up.
“Winning this super middleweight title will put me in a great position for unifications with the likes of Callum Smith, while we’ve got Chris Eubank boxing James DeGale at the weekend.
“There are a lot of big fights at this weight but my real home is middleweight, so I can move down at any time I want and be back as mandatory for my middleweight title and then become a three-time world champion.”
He admits it won’t be as straight forward as he makes out with Isufi entering the fight as the reigning WBO intercontinental champion and having won 27 of his 32 fights, 20 of them by knockout, with just two losses.
“He is very, very strong and you have to be really switched on and calculating with this sort of opponent,” said Saunders.
“He has boxed at light heavyweight and cruiserweight so he is going to be a big, big lump and I need to make sure I am on it and stay away from those big bombs.”
But while this presents the latest opportunity for Saunders, he also admits battling Andrade is still very much in his thoughts.
“Boxing has its ups and downs, so when you get a world title opportunity it is hard to turn it down,” he considered.
“[Andrade] will 100 per cent happen in the future, not on their terms, but on mine because I am the bigger name and have beaten the better men.
“I will prove it by going up a weight, winning another world title and take it from there.”