Saunders vs. Andrade Oct.20 fight up in the air after Billy Joe’s failed drug test
By Jeff Aranow: Following WBO middleweight champion Billy Joe Saunders’ failed drug test on Thursday for the banned substance the banned substance oxilofrine, his October 20 defense against Demetrius Andrade is on shaky ground, and will be decided by the Massachusetts State Athletic Commission at their October 8 meeting. If they clear Saunders to fight, there’s still a chance the WBO won’t sanction his fight with Andrade, as they’re investigating it as well. It’s their title that will be fought for.
If Saunders is unable to fight, Andrade will still hopefully be fighting for the WBO 160 pound title on October20 at TD Garden in Boston, according to his promoter Eddie Hearn of Matchroom Boxing USA. Hearn wants Andrade to fight for the vacant WBO 160 pound title if Saunders, 29, is stripped of his belt.
Andrade would be fighting the next available contender in the WBO’s rankings. Even if Andrade doesn’t get to fight for WBO title, Hearn will still have him fighting on the DAZN streamed card on October 20 against a replacement opponent.
“I’m a clean fighter to the bone and always have been and I’m ready to go on the 20th,” Saunders said on his social media site. “Thank you to my fans who stick by me I’m a clean athlete and gonna be around a long time thank you all stay blessed.”
Saunder’ management sent a statement after the news of his positive tests, saying that the “product concerned is permitted to be used ‘out of competition’ by the United Kingdom Anti-Doping [UKAD] in line with regulations of the World Anti-Doping Agency [WADA].” However, Dan Rafael state that the substance Saunders tested positive for oxilofrine “is banned under VADA rules in and out of competition.” That’s not good news for Saunders, because his fight with Andrade is taking place in the U.S in Boston, not in the UK. If the Massachusetts Athletic Commission is going by the VADA’s rules pertaining to oxilofrine, then they might not care that Saunders tested positive for the substance out of competition.
“Billy Joe will apply for a license in Massachusetts and they will make the decision if he is allowed to box,” Hearn said to ESPN.com. “The most important thing is that Demetrius Andrade fights for the world title on Oct. 20. If Billy Joe Saunders is ruled out and stripped of the title, we will be looking to make a fight for the vacant world title.”
Saunders, 29, tested positive for substance oxilofrine on August 30 by, according to ESPN. The Massachusetts State Athletic Commission will decide on the 8th of October whether Saunders gets to keep his WBO title and defend against Andrade or if he loses his belt. It’s important to Hearn that his fighter Andrade get his mandated title shot for the WBO belt. Former WBA/WBO 154 pound champion Andrade is the mandatory challenger for the WBO belt held by Saunders. If the sanctioning body is going to strip the British fighter of his WBO belt, then Hearn wants Andrade to fight for the title on the original October 20 date that he was expected to fight for it.
“If he doesn’t get licensed, we will strip him,” said WBO president Pacp Valcarcel to ESPN.com. “If he gets licensed, we will still investigate the doping and at that time determine if we will sanction the fight.”
It would be a sad way for Saunders to lose his WBO title. His time as the WBO title has seen him chase fights against the big names Gennady Golovkin and Saul Canelo Alvarez but with no luck. Saunders was the plan-B option for Golovkin if his September 15 rematch against Canelo didn’t get successfully negotiated. Unfortunately for Saunders, Canelo and Golovkin were able to negotiate their rematch. That would have been a big fight for Saunders to be the one that fought GGG on September 15. It would have given Saunders his first big fight of his career as a champion. In Saunders’ only three defenses of his WBO belt, he defeated David Lemieux, Artur Akavov and Willie Monroe Jr. If this is the end of for Saunders as the WBO belt holder, he’ll have to be satisfied with his win over Lemieux as being his biggest fight during the three years that he held the WBO belt. Saunders won the WBO title in 2015 in beating Andy Lee by a 12 round majority decision.
Hearn recently signed Andrade, a 2008 U.S Olympian, and he wants to get him in action because he hasn’t fought since last October. If Andrade is unable to fight on October 20, then he’ll be going on a year and half out of the ring by the time he does eventually fight. Hearn believes in having his fighters in his Matchroom stable fight frequently, but it makes it hard for him when his fighter’s opponents test positive for banned substances.