Even though Billy Joe Saunders has now become the new WBO super middleweight champion, the organization's president has ideas about what to do next.
After Saunders defeated Shefat Isufi to win the then-vacant title on May 18, WBO President Francisco Valcarcel wrote on Twitter that Saunders must face a mandatory challenger next. Saunders won the title with a wide unanimous decision against Isufi in the main event of a Frank Warren-promoted card at Lamex Stadium in Stevenage, England that was streamed on ESPN+.
B J is a great champion ..now he must face his mandatory challenger— Paco Valcárcel, Esq. (@PacoValcarcel) May 19, 2019
The mandatory challenger would naturally be the fighter ranked No. 1 by the WBO, which as of this writing, would be Saunders because the rankings have yet to be updated.
Not counting Saunders and Isufi, the top two fighters at 168 pounds, the next-highest ranked contender would be former title challenger Jesse Hart, followed by NABO champion Erik Bazinyan. Hart is headed for a light heavyweight showdown against Sullivan Barrera this summer while Bazinyan is coming off a dominant 10-round win over Alan Campa on May 2 as part of a Golden Boy Promotions card in Las Vegas that was streamed online on RingTV.com and Facebook.
The new WBO rankings are set to be released in the coming days and it is the last governing body to update its rankings this summer. Valcarcel did not specify when he would order Saunders to defend his title next after the new rankings are released.