By Jake Donovan
As only he can, Billy Joe Saunders continues to add to what has been a comically miserable 2016 ring campaign.
The unbeaten middleweight beltholder was forced to postpone an already undesirable first title defense versus Artur Akavov after reportedly suffering a muscle injury during training camp. Their bout was due to take place on October 22 at Motorpoint Arena in Cardiff, Wales, with the entire show now pushed back after another participant - super welterweight Liam Williams - also suffered an injury during sparring ahead of his British title defense versus Ahmet Patterson.
The card will now take place on November 26 at the very same venue.
“We have obviously not had a lot of luck with this event, first of all being let down by Chris Eubank Jnr and now the two main fights on a card falling out on the same day," promoter Frank Warren noted in a statement released through his press office. “We have no choice but to postpone the card to a month later so everyone is given time to recover.
“I apologise to the fans for any inconvenience this may cause. It is extremely frustrating as the event is already essentially sold out and we were all geared up for a cracking night of boxing on the 22nd October in Cardiff. I am particularly gutted for Tommy Langford who has sold around 2,000 tickets for his British Middleweight title challenge against Sam Sheedy, but I’m sure his support will no doubt still be out in force on the 26th November.”
The injury claim marks the second time this year that Saunders (23-0, 12KOs) has been forced to withdraw from a title defense, although there still exists hope of this one taking place - for those who are remotely interested in the matchup.
Earlier in the year, a hand injury resulted in Saunders withdrawing from a planned April clash with Max Bursak. The Brit is still without a successful defense since winning the strap in a 12-round decision over Andy Lee last December in Manchester, England.
The 27-year old southpaw has since spent his time issuing challenges through social media to unbeaten, unified titlist Gennady Golovkin (although stopping well short of actually following through) while lining up opponents that have left boxing fans uninspired.
To date, his only fight of 2016 has been a classless online feud with ESPN.com senior writer Dan Rafael.
The hope for his team is that his injury - as well as that of Williams - is minor enough to where the show will go on next month in Cardiff. Meanwhile, continuing to fall by the wayside are more lucrative showdowns with the likes of Golokvin, lineal middleweight champion Saul 'Canelo' Alvarez and secondary beltholder Daniel Jacobs.
Assuming the show goes on, Akavov (16-1, 7KOs) enters his first title bout. The 28-year old Brooklyn-based Russian southpaw is riding an 11-fight win streak, but steps way up in class for this opportunity.
TV AND TICKET INFO
Straight from the Queensberry Promotions press release announcing the postponement:
BoxNation will still have live action from the UK on Saturday 22nd October when The Channel of Champions will switch their attention to Bolton’s Premier Suite with Jamie Cox, Matty Askin and Paul Butler co-headlining a card promoted by Steve Wood.
Tickets purchased for the 22nd October event will still be valid for the new date of 26th November at the Motorpoint Arena Cardiff.