Billy Joe Saunders to defend WBO middleweight title against Demetrius Andrade


The fight that many people in boxing didn’t think would happen is now a reality: Billy Joe Saunders will defend his WBO middleweight title against former junior middleweight champion Demetrius Andrade in the fall.

The respective promoters, Frank Warren and Eddie Hearn, came to an agreement Wednesday just before a purse bid for the fight was set to take place.

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Hearn told ESPN that the fight “looks like” it will occur Oct. 20 on the East Coast, since Andrade is from Rhode Island. Hearn originally earmarked that date for an event in Los Angeles. Saunders, from England, would be fighting in the U.S. for the first time.

A purse bid was scheduled for 5 p.m. ET Wednesday but was canceled when the WBO was informed Warren and Hearn had reached an agreement. The two rival promoters from England rarely conduct an event together, so the expectation was the fight would put up for bid, in which Saunders would receive 70 percent of the highest bid.

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While not yet confirmed, the fight is expected to air on DAZN, Perform Group’s streaming service that will debut in the United States on Sept. 10.

Saunders (26-0, 12 KOs) hasn’t fought since beating David Lemieux by a lopsided unanimous decision in Lemieux’s Canadian home province of Quebec. He was set to defend his title against Martin Murray on June 23 but had to bow out of the fight because of a hamstring injury. He was then linked to face unified champion Gennady Golovkin on Aug. 25 if “GGG” couldn’t come to an agreement to fight Saul “Canelo” Alvarez.

Andrade (25-0, 16 KOs) will compete for the first time in 2018. The 30-year-old last fought in October, dominating Alantez Fox to win by unanimous decision. It was announced last week at the DAZN launch event in New York that Andrade had signed with Hearn’s Matchroom Boxing. Andrade was set to fight on the Oct. 6 show in Chicago headlined by Jessie Vargas.

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