Billy Joe Saunders has been forced to make a public apology after laughing over a suspected coronavirus situation involving one of his friends.
The WBO super-middleweight champion took to social media on Saturday admitting to calling an airline and informing them his friend had been feeling unwell before his flight home from the US.
Saunders, 30, was in America alongside Ben Davison, his trainer, his new campmate Josh Taylor and his unnamed friend before all boxing events were put on hold as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
As a result of Saunders’ action, the trio was hauled off the flight that was scheduled to bring them back to the UK.
“I just wanted to clear a couple of issues up that I’ve seen flying around social media today,” Saunders said in a response video released on Saturday. “One of my best mates was in camp with me, supposed to fly back with me yesterday. He didn’t fly back because he felt a little bit poorly, woke up this morning feeling in a bit worse position. Anyway, he made his decision to go back. I didn’t want him to go back.”
Saunders was Stateside and in training for his proposed defence of the world title against Mexican superstar Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez on May 2 in Las Vegas. The fight hadn’t been formally announced prior to the cancellation or postponement of all sporting events by the Nevada State Athletic Commission.
Glasgow’s Taylor, the WBA Super, IBF and Ring Magazine world super-lightweight champion who is Davison’s most recent training recruit, was also meant to fight on the first Saturday in May in a scheduled defence of his crowns against his 23-year-old Thai mandatory challenger Apinun Khongsong.
The show, promoted by Taylor’s new promotional outfit Top Rank in association with MTK Global and Frank Warren of Queensberry Promotions, was scheduled to take place at the SSE Hydro in ‘The Tartan Tornado’s’ Scottish home city, but it is now likely to take place at the same venue later in the year.
“He [the unnamed friend] was going with Ben Davison, who obviously trains me and stablemate Josh Taylor,” continued Saunders as he defended his actions further. “Anyway, they pulled him off the flight once I made them aware.
“When they pulled him off the flight he had his test and thank God he didn’t have coronavirus.”
Saunders went on to say that one of his family members had tested positive for the virus.
“Once the seriousness was gone and I knew he didn’t have it, then it became a bit of a joke that he missed his flight,” he added. “I’m very embarrassed about laughing about that because among friends it’s okay, but it’s getting out to the public’s ears. I just want to apologise to the public if it’s offended you.”