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WBO orders Demetrius Andrade vs. Billy Joe Saunders

Image: WBO orders Demetrius Andrade vs. Billy Joe Saunders

By Tim Royner: The World Boxing Organization has ordered unbeaten Demetrius ‘Boo Boo’ Andrade (27-0, 16 KOs) to defend his title against former WBO 160 lb champion Billy Joe Saunders (27-0, 13 KOs). The sanctioning body have given been given 30 days by the WBO to negotiate the fight until February 21 before they call a purse bid. The minimum acceptable bid is $200,000.

This is a fight that Andrade’s promoter Eddie Hearn of Matchroom Boxing USA wants. Hearn believes that Andrade will beat Saunders. Of course, Hearn also thinks Andrade will beat Saul Canelo Alvarez and Gennady Golovkin, so it’s not surprising that he thinks he can beat Saunders as well.

Saunders, 29, will likely be given a considerably smaller split for the fight, which is reverse of what it would have been had he defended his WBO title against Andrade, 30, last October. That’s when Saunders was supposed to have defended the belt on October 20.

Saunders tested positive during a VADA test for the banned performance enhancing substance oxilofrine, and the Massachusetts State Athletic Commission failed to give him his boxing license. Saunders then vacated the belt, which was won by Andrade with him easily beating replacement opponent Walter Kautondokwa (17-1, 16 KOs) by a 12 round unanimous decision on October 20 at TD Garden in Boston, Mass.

Surprisingly, oxilofrine isn’t banned in the UK as of now except for on the night of the fights. It’s substance that is said to help fighters cut weight. Saunders will need to test clean on the VADA tests for him to make it to the fight with Andrade. With the fight likely to be rescheduled for the U.S, it means that Saunders won’t be able to use oxilofrine, as it’s a substance that is on VADA’s banned subtance list.

Saunders weighed as a cruiserweight for his last fight against Charles Adamu.

The canceled fight for Saunders against Andrade cost him a lot of money. Saunders would have made $2.3 million for the Andrade fight. As the challenger, Saunders likely won’t receive anywhere near the same kind of money he would have made as the champion. If Saunders can beat Andrade, then Billy Joe can go after Saul Canelo Alvarez.

Andrade vs. Saunders will wind up DAZN, and be shown to American boxing fans.

The good news for Saunders and his boxing fans is Andrade did not look good in his first title defense against fringe contender Artur Akavov (19-3, 8 KOs) last Friday, on January 18 at Madison Square Garden in New York. Andrade stopped Akavov in the 12th round in what appeared to be a premature stoppage by referee Arthur Mercante Jr. Akavov was not hurt, and the referee seemed to make an odd decision in choosing to waive off the fight. Akavov had Andrade hurt a couple of times in the fight when he unloaded on him with shots in rounds three and nine. Akavov didn’t throw enough punches in the fight to give himself a chance to win the fight. However, Andrade still did a better job of beating Akavov than an out of shape Saunders did in 2016. However, Saunders would be the first one to tell you that he was not in good physical shape for the fight with Akavov three years ago. Saunders started training camp too heavy, and he had to take too much weight off in a short period of time. This kept Saunders from being at his best.

Saunders’ lack of punching power will make it tough for him to try and beat the taller, 6’1″ southpaw Andrade. Akavov, 5’9″, isn’t a puncher either, but he was still able to hurt Andrade. Jack Culcay isn’t a slugger, and he almost beat Andrade in their fight in March 2017. Andrade won that fight by a 12 round split decision, but he really labored throughout, and didn’t look good at all in the second half of the fight. Saunders would have to be viewed as the favorite to beat Andrade, who clearly isn’t in the same league as the elite middleweights like Saul Canelo Alvarez, Gennady Golovkin and Daniel Jacobs. Rob Brant would give Andrade problems as well with his high work rate. Brant throwing 1000 punches at Andrade would likely result in a knockout win.

Saunders will need to fight at a high level for him to get a decision. He’ll be the visitor in facing Andrade in what will likely be the East Coast of the United States. Hearn isn’t going to have his fighter Andrade traveling to the UK to give Saunders the home country advantage over him like what Akavov went through when he was the visiting fighter against Billy Joe.

Billy Joe’s fans think he was robbed of his WBO title. Saunders has a chance to win the belt back if he can figure out how to beat Andrade, but it won’t be easy. Andrade can punch, and he’s got a nice jab that he likes to use to control shorter fighters. Saunders will need to take Andrade’s jab away from him, and then out-slick him the way he did against David Lemieux. It’s not going to be as easy though. Saunders looked badly out of shape last December in weighing in at 178 pounds for his fight against journeyman Charles Adamu. Although Saunders won the fight by a 4th round knockout, he looked like he was not fit to be fighting a professional match. Saunder’s last true fight against a quality opponent was three years ago against Akavov in 2016, and he did not look good in that fight. Saunder’s boxing skills will make it tough on Andrade. The only question is whether Saunders can win a decision fighting in Andrade’s home turf. It won’t be easy. Unless Saunders puts on a masterclass performance like he did in beating Lemieux, he could come up empty. Saunders won’t be able to match Andrade’s punching power

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