By Keith Idec
Billy Joe Saunders will defend his WBO middleweight title in his opponent’s home area in a second straight fight.
Promoter Eddie Hearn told multiple media outlets Wednesday that Saunders’ title defense against Demetrius Andrade will take place October 20 at TD Garden in Boston. TD Garden, the home arena of the NBA’s Celtics and NHL’s Bruins, is about 50 miles from Andrade’s hometown of Providence, Rhode Island.
England’s Saunders traveled to Laval, Quebec, for his last fight against David Lemieux. The British southpaw masterfully out-boxed Montreal’s Lemieux in that 12-rounder December 16 at Place Bell.
The Saunders-Andrade fight will headline a show streamed live by DAZN as part of Perform Group’s partnership with Hearn’s Matchroom Boxing. The first DAZN/Matchroom show in the United States, scheduled for October 6 at Wintrust Arena in Chicago, was officially announced at a press conference Wednesday.
Hearn, Andrade’s new promoter, and British rival Frank Warren, who works with Saunders, came to an agreement for their WBO-mandated championship match July 25 before a purse bid scheduled for later that day.
The WBO ordered a Saunders-Andrade title fight last month because Brooklyn’s Daniel Jacobs (34-2, 29 KOs), the WBO’s No. 1 middleweight challenger, reached an agreement to fight Ukraine’s Sergiy Derevyanchenko (12-0, 10 KOs) for the vacant IBF middleweight title. Andrade (25-0, 16 KOs), a former WBA and WBO 154-pound champion, is the WBO’s No. 2-ranked middleweight contender.
The 30-year-old Andrade (25-0, 16 KOs) will end almost exactly a one-year layoff the night he challenges Saunders. Andrade hasn’t fought since defeating Alantez Fox (23-1-1, 11 KOs) by unanimous decision in their 12-rounder October 21 in Verona, New York.
The 28-year-old Saunders (26-0, 12 KOs) will fight for the first time in 10 months when he enters the ring to face Andrade.
He was supposed to make an optional title defense against England’s Martin Murray on April 14 at O2 Arena in London. He withdrew from that fight due to a hand injury and from their rescheduled June 23 bout with a hamstring injury.
Murray accused Saunders of faking his second injury because Saunders was trying to land a more profitable fight against Gennady Golovkin. Saunders agreed to battle Golovkin on August 25 at The Forum in Inglewood, California, but that plan was scrapped once Golovkin (38-0-1, 34 KOs) and Alvarez (49-1-2, 34 KOs) agreed to terms June 13 for their rematch September 15 at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas.
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.