By Tomi Pradarics
After chasing a world title bout against Billy Joe Saunders for over one and a half years, Walter Kautondokwa may reach his goal in late October, save for Billy Joe Saunders.
The unbeaten Namibian fighter, who is rated No. 2 by the WBO at middleweight, was supposed to become the next mandatory challenger by the Puerto Rico-based sanctioning body after champion Saunders has taken care of his obligations over current No. 1 ranked Demetrius Andrade in a bout scheduled for October 20th in Boston, Massachusetts.
An unexpected turnaround, however, in the form of the UK-based WBO titlist’s positive drug test will possibly bring the African fighter’s dream to fight for a major championship belt in arm’s length.
As it was published earlier on BoxingScene.com, Saunders tested positive for a banned substance named oxilofrine that made his scheduled mandatory title defense against the fellow unbeaten Andrade in serious jeopardy. A meeting has been ordered by the Massachusetts State Athletic Commission on October 8th, only twelve days prior to the scheduled fight day, to discuss if Billy Joe’s license gets voided or not.
The WBO, at the same time, made sure that in the event of a ban by the MSAC on Saunders, the British troublemaker will also have to say goodbye to his world title.
“It is never good to hear that a boxer has tested positive for drugs, it is not good for the sport of boxing, but these things do happen. We are happy that doping agencies are making a concerted effort to curb down such boxers and athletes around the world because it is not fair on their fellow sportsmen and women with whom they are to compete against. Saunders has been a great champion, whether or not he really used a banned drug will be up to the Commission to decide,” said Kautondokwa’s promoter, Nestor Tobias to BoxingScene.com on Saturday.
“My view is very simple, sanctioning bodies should be very consistent and have zero tolerance for cheats in the sport. I am not concluding that Saunders is a cheat, but if the results prove that he is, then it would only be fair to strip him of the title like it would have been with any other boxer.”
In the event of a strip, Kautondokwa would only have twelve days until fight night since the confirmation of his world title shot. The Namibian promoter, however, believes opportunities like this have to get taken by both hands.
“12 days is of course never enough to prepare for such a big fight. We have, however, already signed an agreement with Matchroom on the 28th Sept to step in and take the fight in the event of Saunders is not allowed to fight, so we have a little more than 11 days and we were already in the gym training. It is however not the same when you prepare for such a big fight under a cloud of uncertainty, but we will do so anyway and make the best of the opportunity.”
And what about the potential opponent on this possible fight for the vacant WBO middleweight title?
“Andrade is slick, very experienced and unbeaten. He will be fighting at home, had enough time to prepare for the fight, and is clearly the better-known name, so everything will be in his favor going into a fight with Kautondokwa, but that is exactly the position we want to be in. The pressure will be on Andrade and not on Walter. We will take full advantage of our underdog status,” stated Tobias, who also envisions an outcome that would shock the whole boxing world on October 20th.
“Interesting match-up indeed. All I can say is that the boxing world will be very shocked after the fight because something very strange will happen as Namibians and Africans around the world will rejoice in victory.”
You can reach Tamas Pradarics at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter @TomiPradarics.