WBO Prez: Saunders Gave Up Title Before Investigation Started

By Keith Idec

OMAHA, Nebraska – Billy Joe Saunders voluntarily gave up his WBO middleweight title, rather than proceeding with that sanctioning organization’s appeals process.

Francisco “Paco” Valcarcel, the WBO’s president, told of Saunders’ decision Thursday and confirmed that the WBO’s 160-pound title is now vacant. Top-ranked Demetrius Andrade (25-0, 16 KOs), of Providence, Rhode Island, and Namibia’s Walter Kautondokwa (17-0, 16 KOs), the WBO’s No. 2 contender, will fight for that unclaimed championship October 20 at TD Garden in Boston (DAZN).

England’s Saunders (26-0, 12 KOs) was supposed to make a mandatory defense of the WBO middleweight title against Andrade that night. The Massachusetts State Athletic Commission denied his license application on Tuesday, however, because Saunders tested positive for oxilofrine, a banned stimulant, in a test administered August 30 by the Voluntary Anti-Doping Association.

“He already relinquished [the title],” said Valcarcel, who’s in Omaha for the WBO welterweight title bout Saturday night between champion Terence Crawford and challenger Jose Benavidez Jr.

“He voluntarily did it. We were ready to start the process, our internal procedure, to strip him.”

billy-joe-saunders (4)_3

When asked why Saunders didn’t proceed with an appeal, Valcarcel said, “I don’t want to make any comments or give any opinions. But it’s a vacant title because he relinquished the title.”

Valcarcel added that Saunders “probably will be suspended for six months.” That suspension would prohibit him from appearing in the WBO’s rankings and earning a shot at the title he vacated during that time.

Frank Warren, Saunders’ promoter, revealed earlier Thursday that Saunders will appeal the Massachusetts commission’s decision all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court, if necessary. Warren contends Saunders should’ve been allowed to box against Andrade because Massachusetts is legally obligated to adhere to the World Anti-Doping Agency’s standards.

Oxilofrine is on VADA’s list of banned substances 365 days per year, yet only against WADA and UK Anti-Doping regulations on the day of a fight. Saunders, 29, won’t be disciplined by UK Anti-Doping, which subjects all British boxers to drug testing 365 days per year for the British Boxing Board of Control, and will be free to fight in the United Kingdom as soon as Warren can arrange another fight for him.

The Massachusetts commission denied Saunders’ license application because the former champion signed a contract to adhere to VADA’s stricter testing standards, as did Andrade.

Regardless, failing VADA’s test will cost Saunders’ side a package of $2.3 million for facing Andrade.

Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.

User Comments and Feedback (Register For Free To Comment) Comment by Lemonhead_Jeff on 10-12-2018

[QUOTE=Robbie Barrett;19186031]Not Massachusetts job to enforce others rules only their own. Under their rules Saunders did nothing wrong. He should have been given a license.[/QUOTE] Who's job is it to enforce the drug-testing stipulations that were agreed upon in the…

Comment by Superbee on 10-12-2018

[QUOTE=j.razor;19186997]SMH....I hope your kidding cuz lemule is wack.[/QUOTE] Only guy besides Canelo and Triple G that I'm not sure about since Droid Saunders out is Charlo... He has a legit "puncher" chance with everyone else in the division... I know…

Comment by bigdunny1 on 10-12-2018

[QUOTE=j.razor;19187011][url][/url][/QUOTE] So according to Conte what canelo was taking is like baby food this what Saunders was taking is like steak. NFL, NBA, every other major sport league has this drug is…

Comment by j.razor on 10-12-2018

[QUOTE=Bjl12;19187009]He went as far to suggest Canelo get a lifetime ban when - in reality - theres a very real chance Canelo did actually eat bad meat...never tested positive before (ggg1 or Floyd), hair test was negative, WADA director said…

Comment by j.razor on 10-12-2018

[QUOTE=Robbie Barrett;19186161]You think ephedrine is juicing? :rofl: WADA is the standard for drug testing in the Olympics and nearly all sports. They allow it out of competition, so obviously they don't see it as giving a big advantage. If all…

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