Billy Joe Saunders' suspension for failing a drug test last year has ended and is now back into title contention.
The WBO ruled today that Saunders' suspension has been cut short and is now named the mandatory challenger to the middleweight title being held by Demetrius Andrade. As such, the governing body has ordered negotiations to take place and the camps for both boxers have 30 days to reach a deal for a title fight.
If both sides are unable to come to terms for a title fight, then a purse bid will be conducted in the WBO offices in Puerto Rico. The minimum bid is $200,000 should a purse bid be made.
Saunders previously held the title since 2015, but it was revealed in September that he had tested positive for the substance oxilofrine. Saunders claimed he was innocent but he was denied a boxing license by the Massachusetts State Athletic Commission and so his fight against Andrade this past October was canceled.
The fight was supposed to headline a Matchroom Boxing USA card in Boston to be streamed on DAZN. Saunders would go on to vacate the title and was originally handed down a six-month suspension by the WBO. Walter Kautondokwa would replace Saunders in the fight for the vacant title, but Andrade defeated Kautondokwa by unanimous decision to win his first middleweight championship.
Andrade would go on to defend his title on the January 18 Matchroom Boxing USA card from the Hulu Theater at Madison Square Garden. Andrade defeated Artur Akavov by unanimous decision to retain the title.