Sports Update: Saunders ‘vacates’ world title after being refused Massachusetts licence due to doping violation

The WBO president has recommended Saunders receive a six-month suspension for his transgression.

BILLY JOE SAUNDERS has ‘vacated’ his WBO World middleweight title having been refused a licence to fight in Massachusetts following a failed VADA test.

The Massachussetts State Athletic Commission voted last night to pull the plug on Saunders’ 20 October title defence versus Rhode Island native Demetrius Andrade, who will instead face WBO no.2 Walter Kautondokwa for the now-vacant title at Boston’s TD Garden on the same date.

The triple world-title card at the home of the Celtics and Bruins also features Katie Taylor defending her straps against Cindy Serrano, Belfast’s James Tennyson versus Tevin Farmer for the IBF World super-featherweight title, and Wexford heavyweight Niall Kennedy — a garda by trade — in a 10-round heavyweight contest.

Eddie Hearn’s announcement that his fighter, Andrade, would face Kautondokwa for the title suggested Saunders had been relieved of his title by the WBO — an outcome expected by many when he was refused a Massachussetts licence after testing positive for a banned substance.

Just confirmed from @PacoValcarcel @WorldBoxingOrg – @BooBooAndrade v WBO #2 Kautondokwa will now be for the vacant 160lb WBO world title @tdgarden October 20 live on @DAZN_USA

However, a statement released shortly afterwards by Saunders’ promoter, Frank Warren, confirmed that Saunders had indeed vacated the belt.

Warren claimed that the former British Olympian would not be in the mind frame to fight again until he could repair his reputation following the failed drug test.

Warren also warned that he would be taking the Massachusetts commission ruling to “the supreme court” at the earliest opportunity.

A statement from WBO president Francisco ‘Paco’ Valcárcel, meanwhile, suggested that it would be at least half a year until Saunders would be permitted to challenge for the belt he has vacated.

“B.J. Saunders has voluntarily vacated the WBO middleweight title,” Valárel said. “He has publicly apologised for his violation of the Massachusetts Athletic Commission’s anti-doping regulations.

“Therefore, the clash between Demetrius Andrade and Walter Kautondonkwa scheduled for 20 October will now be for the vacant world crown.

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