Billy Joe Saunders ordered to face Demetrius Andrade by WBO
By Scott Gilfoid: The World Boxing Organization has reportedly ordered WBO middleweight champion Billy Joe Saunders (26-0, 12 KOs) to defend against is mandatory challenger former WBO 154lb. champion Demetrius ‘Boo Boo’ Andrade (25-0, 16 KOs) within 10 days or else the WBO will order a purse bid. Needless to say, this is a high risk, low reward fight for Saunders.
Andrade is easily the best fighter Saunders will have faced if he takes the fight, and it’s not a given that he’ll beat him. Andrade is taller, faster, and stronger, more experienced and has the better amateur pedigree. Andrade has a ton of things going for him against Saunders. The only thing Saunders has on his side is the fight with Andrade would likely take place in the UK, so he would have the hometown advantage.
This is obviously bad news for Saunders, who is said be interested in facing former IBF super middleweight champion James ‘Chunky’ DeGale next. That would likely be a very easy fight for Saunders due to how shot DeGale has looked recently. It’ll be much harder for Saunders to defend his WBO title against Andrade, because he’s go excellent size, power, experience and boxing skills. DeGale is likely going to fight Chris Eubank Jr. next. Saunders can always fight the winner of the DeGale-Eubank Jr. fight, but it’s going to look bad if he vacates his WBO middleweight title and stays inactive until he faces the winner. For Saunders not to lose his fan base, he’s going to need to face a dangerous opponent with talent. The best way for him to do that is to take the Andrade fight.
Saunders’ options now are as follows:
– Vacate WBO title to avoid Demetrius Andrade
– Pull out of fight with Andrade because of injury related problems. This might be the more likely thing to happen.
– Hope Demetrius Andrade pulls out due to injury
– Take fight with Demetrius Andrade and prove himself
Frankly, I see Saunders vacating his WBO title to avoid the Andrade fight. It’s too tough of a match for Saunders to take, and I don’t see him being willing to face him. If Saunders’ seemingly brittle body doesn’t betray him during training camp, I see him pulling out to avoid the match. To be sure, Saunders will look bad in the eyes of the boxing public if he vacates his WBO title, but a least he’ll avoid a loss.
If Saunders vacates his WBO title, then he’ll have lost the only chance he eve rad in getting a fight against Golovkin or Canelo. The only reason either of those fighters would want to face Saunders is because he holds the WBO middleweight title. Without that belt, Saunders will have lost the only thing that makes him worth fighting. Saunders isn’t a household name in the U.S, so it makes little sense for GGG or Canelo to face him. There’s no money for them to fight Saunders. The only thing they can gain from fighting Saunders is to try and beat him to capture his WBO middleweight title.
It’s unclear what Saunders will do now that he’s received this news from the WBO. Does he vacate his WBO 160 lb. to avoid a very difficult fight that he has an excellent chance of losing to Andrade or does he take the fight and hope for the best? Will Saunders suffer another injury training and need to pull out of
the Andrade fight? During Saunders’ 2 ½ year reign as the WBO 160lb champion, he’s been injured on four separate occasions that has gotten in the way of fights. The latest injury came recently while Saunders was preparing for a rescheduled June 23 title defense against Martin Murray. After the injury, Saunders canceled his defense against Murray and has been in a holding pattern ever since. This was the second time Saunders was injured while training for the Murray fight. The injuries were different. The first injury was to Saunders’ right hand. The second injury was a hamstring issue. Rather than reschedule for a third time, Saunders pulled out of the Murray fight. Some believe that Saunders pulled out in hopes of facing GGG if the negotiations with Caneo had fizzled. Unfortunately for Saunders, the negotiations worked out for Golovkin and he’s now facing Canelo on September 15 in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Saunders can move up to 168, but he’s not likely going to do well against the current set of champions in Tyron Zeuge, David Benavidez, Jose Uzcategui, George Groves or Gilberto ‘Zurdo’ Ramirez. Those fighters are too good for Saunders in their own different ways. If Saunders isn’t able to figure out a fool proof game plan against one of those guys, then he should forget about it. DeGale would be a nice payday for Saunders, but he won’ prove anything by beating him at this point in his career. DeGale is too shot for Saunders to get any credit for beating him.