So we all know that current WBO Middleweight Champion Demetrius “Boo Boo” Andrade (27-0, 17 KOs) was originally scheduled to take on Billy Joe Saunders (26-0, 12 KOs), who was champion at the time, on October 20, 2018 in Boston. However, not everything went according to plan. Billy Joe Saunders failed a drug test, having tested positive for Oxilofrine by VADA and was forced to vacate his title instead of facing harsher punishment. He only served a six month suspension as a result. Last week, the WBO made him the mandatory challenger for Andrade’s WBO Middleweight Title which is laughable, to say the least.
Saunders had opposed the WBO original suspension, stating that it was an over the counter nasal spray that caused the positive drug test. It is known that Oxilofrine is used to cut weight, so in many people’s eyes, this is another lame excuse by an athlete who gets caught using PEDs. His legal team contested the decision, filed a petition and the suspension was lifted on January 14th. Saunders argument was that the nasal spray was not banned “in competition” by WADA, which is what is followed by the British Boxing Board of Control and UK Anti-Doping Association. The petition showed that Billy Joe Saunders fulfilled whatever agreement and conditions he had to meet with the WBO regarding his suspension. He was reinstated and rated #1 in their rankings, making him the mandatory challenger for the title. The WBO has given Andrade’s promoter, Eddie Hearn and Saunders’ promoter, Frank Warren 30 days to agree on the details or there will be a purse bid on February 21st.
Some people feel that it’s not fair that Saunders is getting a shot to regain his former title so soon. I have mixed feelings on it. While I agree, he should be punished, regardless of if he knew he was breaking rules or not (still his responsibility to know), I think this is the best fight for Andrade at the moment. I think it’s a winnable fight. We know that Andrade was looking forward to a potential clash with former unified Middleweight Champion Gennady “GGG” Golovkin, but that will have to wait it seems. I think Saunders is the easier fight and it gives him a Andrade a big name on his resume.
Outside of what is fair and what isn’t fair, there are still some questions regarding cam Billy Joe Saunders even make the 160lbs weight limit? His defense about “the over the counter nasal spray” will be challenged soon. If he was using something to help cut weight because he had trouble cutting naturally, then it’s going to be a big problem. I think if the fight is set for May or June, he could cut weight naturally, at a steady and healthy pace, and be good to go. His stable mate, Tyson “Gypsy King” Fury recently lost over 100 pounds within one year. It is possible. Saunders recently fought Charles Adamu (32-14, 25 KOs) in an 8 round bout. He weighted in at 178 1/4 lbs, a career high for him.
I hope Saunders recovers from his disastrous 2018 campaign. It’s a new year, and hopefully a new Billy Joe Saunders. We all want to see a competitive fight and the best version of Saunders, so that there is no doubt or excuses after the fight. Will he be able to do it? Will he be able to reclaim his title? There are a lot of questions to be answered.