The WBO have ordered Middleweight Champion Demetrius Andrade to face mandatory challenger, and former world title holder, British Billy Joe Saunders.
Saunders held the belt from 2015 until early 2018, after beating Irishman Andy Lee by majority decision. He was ordered to face Andrade in a mandatory defence back in June. This happened after the negotiations fell through and it ended up going to purse bids. Eddie Hearn – backed by DAZN – eventually won the right to stage the fight.
However, the fight was scrapped and Saunders vacated his title after a positive test by the Voluntary Anti-Doping Agency, for Oxilofrine. Saunders blamed the infraction on a nasal stray.
Oxilofrine, notably, is not banned by UK Anti-Doping.
After stripping Saunders, Andrade fought WBO Number 2 Walter Kautonfokwa – dropping the Namibian 4 times and winning each round comfortably.
Saunders fought journeyman Charles Adamu in a keep busy fight at a career high weight of 178.5lbs, effectively the cruiserweight limit.
The WBO installed their former champion in at Number 1, and this is the fight to make at this time – we should commend them for being true to their word. The failed test by Saunders does appear to be a genuine misjudgement, with no malice intended.
Interested in knockouts? This ain’t the one chief
This fight will be a chess match of the highest order. Andrade and Saunders are arguably the best technical boxers at 160 right now. Therefore, both would give superstars Canelo and Golovkin a very tough night.
Andrade is a two times Golden Gloves winner himself, and Saunders’ awkward style coupled with impeccable footwork make him the trickiest of tricky customers. The fight will be fought on multiple levels, many of which we cannot comprehend.
The fight is for the boxing purists in us all, and one not to miss. Updates to follow.