By Keith Idec
Billy Joe Saunders will travel to what’s essentially his opponent’s backyard for a second straight fight October 20 in Boston.
The WBO middleweight champion told BoxingScene.com that’s the only way he could’ve secured a sizeable payday to box mandatory challenger Demetrius Andrade. Saunders says Andrade would’ve walked away from their fight rather than travel to the United Kingdom to challenge the unbeaten British southpaw.
“Listen, to me, a ring’s a ring,” Saunders said before a press conference Friday in Boston. “As long as there’s a ring and it’s all kept fairly, that’s all I’m interested in. A fair contest, a boxing ring and let’s see who the best is. I mean, if that’s what’s gonna make the big fights, then yeah, I’m good. I know Andrade wouldn’t come to my backyard. He would’ve let the spot go. He would’ve let the mandatory spot go. He would not have come to my backyard. So I’m up for it. I’m way up for it.”
The 29-year-old Saunders (26-0, 12 KOs) will make the fourth defense of his WBO 160-pound championship when he faces the 30-year-old Andrade (25-0, 16 KOs) at TD Garden, the home arena of the NBA’s Celtics and NHL’s Bruins. TD Garden is about 50 miles from Andrade’s hometown of Providence, Rhode Island.
Sources have informed BoxingScene.com that Saunders’ side will be paid roughly $2.3 million for defending his title in a bout that’ll be streamed live by DAZN, with which Andrade’s new promoter, Eddie Hearn, has partnered. Saunders impressively out-boxed Montreal’s David Lemieux (39-4, 33 KOs) in his last fight to win a 12-round unanimous decision December 16 in Laval, Quebec, Canada.
Andrade acknowledged during a later interview Friday with BoxingScene.com that he would not have fought Saunders in England.
“I’ve done bit the bullet a bunch of times and I’m not biting no more bullets,” Andrade said. “Eddie Hearn is a great promoter. He’s doing what he needs to do for his side, for his team, and that’s to make us comfortable, not the other person comfortable.”
The former junior middleweight champion’s experience 17 months ago in Ludwigshafen, Germany, where he settled for a split-decision victory over Germany-based Jack Culcay, was among the things that made him reluctant to fight Saunders in England. Andrade defeated Culcay by the same score, 116-112, on the cards of two judges, but the third judge scored their 12-round, 154-pound championship match 115-114 for Culcay (24-3, 12 KOs) in March 2017.
“You’re going to an environment that you’re not used to – food, air, water,” Andrade said. “I did that throughout my amateur career and going over to Germany wasn’t the best experience for getting ready for a fight. Don’t get me wrong, Germany is a nice country. Fighters are built in America and yeah, we need to be internationally known and take risks, like I did. But I don’t need to go overseas every single time, especially when I’m not the champion at this time.”
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.