Billy Joe Saunders' reign as the WBO middleweight champion has ended, but the WBO could potentially give Saunders a lengthy suspension after failing a drug test.
Shortly after a now-deleted statement from promoter Frank Warren said Saunders would be vacating his WBO middleweight title after his positive test for oxilofrine was announced, the WBO issues its own statement.
In the WBO statement, penned by president Francisco Valcarcel, it confirmed that Saunders is no longer the middleweight champion and that the upcoming fight between Demetrius Andrade and Walter Kautondonkwa on October 20 will be for the vacant belt. The statement, which can be read below, added that Valcarel will be going to the WBO Executive Committee to talk about a possible six-month suspension for Saunders.
“B.J. Saunders has voluntarily vacated the WBO Middleweight Title, and publicly apologized for his violation of the Massachusetts Athletic Commission’s anti-doping regulations”.
“Therefore, the clash between Demetrius Andrade and Walter Kautondonkwa scheduled for October 20th will now be for the vacant World Crown”.
“Also, I will recommend to the WBO Executive Committee that Saunders receives a six month suspension for his transgression”.
The announcement officially ends Saunders' reign as the middleweight champion at nearly three years. Saunders won the title in late 2015 when he defeated Andy Lee, but has only made three successful title defenses with wins over Artur Akavov, Willie Monroe Jr. and David Lemieux. His most latest title defense was last December when he scored a wide unanimous decision win over Lemieux. Saunders was supposed to defend his title on two occasions against Martin Murray, but both times, the fight fell through due to Saunders getting injured.