By Tomi Pradarics
The WBO world championship fight between middleweights Billy Joe Saunders and Demetrius Andrade started out as an interesting matchup. An unexpected turnaround, however, in the form of a positive doping test may torpedo the actual fist fight that was originally scheduled for October 20 in Boston, Massachusetts.
It was revealed last week that WBO-champ Saunders (26-0, 12 KOs) tested positive for a banned substance named oxilofrine, that made his scheduled mandatory title defense against fellow unbeaten Andrade in serious jeopardy. A meeting has been ordered by the Massachusetts State Athletic Commission on October 9th, only eleven days prior to the scheduled fight day, to discuss if Billy Joe’s license gets voided or not.
In the event of a suspension of the British fighter, WBO No. 2 rated Walter Kautondokwa will step up to take the fight against Andrade (25-0, 16 KOs) for the vacant belt at the TD Garden in Boston.
Promoter Frank Warren, who handles the career of Saunders, stated to BoxingScene.com that his fighter is innocent as the mentioned substance is only illegal to get used on fight nights according to UKAD, the leading anti-doping agency in the UK.
BoxingScene.com has also reached out to Kautondokwa’s promoter, Nestor Tobias, to get his reflects on Warren’s statement.
“It doesn't really matter what Mr. Warren or me, or anybody else think. You cannot argue against a positive drug test result and that is all the Commission will look at, and if they will focus on that, the decision should be very clear,” said Tobias on the matter.
The unfortunate situation with the positive test has also caught the attention of anti-doping advocate Victor Conte, who addressed a very clear message about the issue, saying the verdict upon the hearing will determine far more than just the future of the matchup between Saunders and Andrade.
“Bottom line is this, we're just a few days away from the hearing, and boxing fans will get the opportunity to find out if this is going to be a historic decision in the best interest of boxing, which means that they (Massachusetts State Athletic Commission) will uphold this positive drug test and rule in favor of Andrade,” said Conte.
Tobias, who has been struggling to secure a meaningful fight for his heavy-handed protégé, heavily supports the anti-doping guru’s words and hopes Saunders will get a similar suspension that was handed to Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez after the Mexican superstar tested positive for a banned substance earlier this year. That ruling also prevented Alvarez from a multi-million-dollar rematch with unified middleweight champion Gennady Golovkin in May.
“Conte is correct, and nobody can argue against him. The primary question should be this: did Saunders know that this was a prohibited substance, and did he sign up to abide to VADA rules and the answer to both is yes,” stated Tobias.
“Our view is that any boxing commission should have zero tolerance to drugs in the sport irrespective of who the boxer is. Canelo was a good example, and nobody should get away with it if they are guilty because the sport of boxing is bigger than any boxer and whatever they decide will create a precedent.”
Kautondokwa (17-0, 16 KOs), who is already in good shape and ready to jump in in the event of the MSAC rules to void the license of Saunders, hopes Tuesday’s hearing will conclude in the best interest of the sport.
“I don't want to get myself involved in Saunders’s drug issues, I trust that the Commission will deal with this in the best possible manner in the best interest of the sport of boxing now and in the future.”
You can reach Tamas Pradarics at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter @TomiPradarics.