By Keith Idec
Billy Joe Saunders will begin rebuilding his career December 22.
Promoter Frank Warren announced Wednesday through his Twitter account that Saunders will box journeyman Zoltan Sera on December 22 in his hometown of Manchester, England. Saunders’ bout will be part of the Carl Frampton-Josh Warrington undercard at Manchester Arena.
Saunders, 29, will fight for the first time since the WBO stripped him of its middleweight title two months ago for failing a performance-enhancing drug test. Testing positive for oxilofrine, a stimulant banned by the Voluntary Anti-Doping Association, caused the Massachusetts State Athletic Commission to deny his application for a license to make a mandatory defense of his 160-pound championship against Demetrius Andrade on October 20 in Boston.
The WBO subsequently stripped Saunders of his title and suspended him from its rankings for six months. The British Boxing Board of Control did not suspend Saunders because oxilofrine isn’t on the banned substance list of UK Anti-Doping, which oversees drug testing of British boxers for the BBBofC 365 days per year.
Andrade (26-0, 16 KOs), of Providence, Rhode Island, won the title taken from Saunders by beating Namibia’s Walter Kautondokwa (17-1, 16 KOs) on October 20 at TD Garden in Boston. Kautondokwa, replaced Saunders on less than two weeks’ notice, suffered four knockdowns against Andrade and lost a 12-round unanimous decision.
The 30-year-old Andrade was the mandatory challenger for Saunders’ title. Per terms of an agreement between Warren and rival British promoter Eddie Hearn, who represents Andrade, Saunders’ side was to be paid a package of roughly $2.3 million for defending his title against Andrade.
The controversial Saunders hasn’t fought since his masterful performance against David Lemieux last December 16. Saunders, a skillful southpaw, out-boxed Montreal’s Lemieux (40-4, 34 KOs) rather easily on his way to winning a unanimous decision at Place Bell in Laval, Quebec, Canada.
Hungary’s Sera, 33, is 3-4-1 in his past eight fights. Each of those four defeats came by knockout or technical knockout.
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.