Saunders still willing to fight Demetrius Andrade at 160
By Tim Royner: Things aren’t looking too good for Billy Joe Saunders with his scheduled fight against #1 WBO Shefat Isufi on April 13. Saunders thought the WBO super middleweight title would be on the line for the fight, but as it turns out, it doesn’t look as if it’s going to. Saunders is now saying that he would be open to coming back down to fight for the WBO 160 lb title.
Saunders chose not to fight WBO middleweight champion Demetrius Andrade for his belt after spotting what looked like an easy opportunity for him to win what he thought was the vacant WBO super middleweight title against Isufi (27-3-2, 20 KOs) on April 13 at the Wembley Arena in London, England. The WBO super middleweight title opportunity turned out to be a mirage. It’s not vacant, and Saunders won’t be winning the belt if he defeats the little known Isufi.
Now it appears that the WBO 168 lb title wasn’t vacant after all, seeing as Gilberto ‘Zurdo’ Ramirez is saying that he didn’t vacate the belt. Saunders says he could come back down to middleweight to face Andrade (27-0, 17 KOs) for his old title, according to Michael Benson.
Andrade is fighting next on June 22 against an opponent still to be determined at the Dunkin Donuts Center, Providence, Rhode Island.
“He was supposed to be fighting Billy Joe Saunders, but Billy Joe Saunders pulled out of the fight [with Andrade], so the WBO will probably determine the new mandatory,” Matchroom Boxing USA promoter Eddie Hearn said to IFL TV about Demetrius Andrade’s next fight on June 22. “In the meantime, Andrade will take a voluntary in May or June. He wants to fight on the AJ [Anthony Joshua] card. ‘You’re a WBO junior middleweight champion. You’re a headline act. I’m positioning you to fight the winner of Canelo-Jacobs or Golovkin,'” Hearn recalling what he told Andrade when he asked to fight on the undercard of Anthony Joshua’s next fight on June 1 at Madison Square Garden in New York. “‘I really want to box on an AJ card,'” Andrade said, according to Hearn. “I said, ‘No, no, no,’ so we’ll see. Very,” Hearn said in saying he was very surprised that Saunders turned down the fight against Andrade. “For a world title that didn’t exist,” Hearn said about Saunders turning down the Andrade fight, and then moving up to super middleweight to face Shefat Isufi in a fight that he mistakenly believed would be for the World Boxing Organization super middleweight title.
Whether Saunders can still get the fight with Andrade is unclear. If Saunders is serious about fighting Andrade, he’s going to have to make a move soon, because Hearn is going to find someone to fill that spot.