Boxing News At Five

Boxing News at Five: Saunders has a ‘Boo Boo’, WBSS draw set for July 20, and Ancajas is back September 14

Demetrius Andrade
Amanda Westcott/SHOWTIME
Billy Joe Saunders could be set for a tricky defence of his WBO middleweight title, and all things WBSS will be revealed at The Draft Gala on July 20 in Moscow

BE careful what you wish for. That’s the message Demetrius Andrade – and anyone with an interest in the middleweight shakeup – will be whispering to Billy Joe Saunders this morning as he digests the news that he must defend his WBO world title against the gifted American in his next fight.

This is the latest bout rumoured for Saunders, following potential dates with Gennady Golovkin and James DeGale, and it’s probably the least appealing of the lot from a risk-reward perspective.

‘Boo Boo’ Andrade, a former WBO and WBA super-welterweight champion, may only have fought once as a full-blown middleweight, when he beat Alantez Fox last time out, but is undefeated in 25 fights, in his prime at 30 years of age, and much better than his low-key profile (soon to be bolstered by a rumoured move to Matchroom USA and DAZN) would suggest. Which is why, frankly, he’s a bit of a banana skin for Saunders; a six-foot-one southpaw he could do without.

“If an accord is not reached within the time frame stated herein, a purse bid will be ordered pursuant to our WBO regulations of world championship contests,” the WBO stated.

“The minimum acceptable bid for the WBO middleweight division is $200,000. Any of the parties involved may request a purse bid procedure at any time during the negotiation process.”

Billy Joe Saunders

Saunders, apparently keen to make the fight happen, said: “Ready to face Andrade [in] September, let’s get it on.” And even his promoter, Frank Warren, the man charged with weighing up the risk versus the reward, sounded just as receptive to the idea. “He’s not become world champion to give up his belt,” Warren wrote on social media. “He’s never ducked a fight in his life and he never will.”

Based on this talk, and with 10 days to come to an agreement, it would appear Saunders and Andrade are destined to fight each other. Well, in an ideal world, that is.

In reality, however, one, or both, might end up scuppering the plan in favour of some other option deemed more lucrative and less risky. It happens. A lot. Far more than it should.

A shame, too.

Fights like this should be the rule rather than the exception – and should be treated as such. Andrade, after all, is the mandatory challenger, and Saunders the champion. If the champion refuses to fight their mandatory challenger, or somehow finds a more appealing proposition sans title, what’s the point in having world champions in the first place? Ditto, Andrade and number one contenders.

Do it, I say. Let’s find out who’s more deserving of their unblemished record.

Demetrius” Andrade is undefeated in 21 fights and is the WBO junior middleweight champion -- for now. (Photo: Emily Harney)

As Manny Pacquiao counts down the days until his 69th professional fight in Kuala Lumpur this weekend, a future Filipino star, Jerwin Ancajas, is announcing moves of his own.

The IBF super-flyweight champion, recently seen outpointing Jonas Sultan in May, will defend his title for the sixth time on September 14 in Fresno, California, against either Alejandro Santiago or Miguel Gonzalez.

“We’re always ready,” Ancajas said during a media lunch. “Coach Joven (Jimenez) and I make sure that we’re always training so that I’m always in shape.

As for the identity of the opponent, Ancajas, 26, is nonplussed. He likes the idea of adding to the great Philippines-Mexico rivalries of years gone by, which would mean fighting Santiago, but is just as happy to fight Gonzalez, a Chilean, if that’s what’s decided. “He’s a very tough fighter from Tijuana, very hungry,” he said about Santiago.

Ancajas, a busy boy, has already stopped one Mexican, Israel Gonzalez, this year, and clearly isn’t looking to waste time. As one Filipino star prepares to leave, another has seemingly already entered.

Jerwin Ancajas

And finally… all will be revealed on Friday, July 20 at Rossiya Theatre in Moscow, Russia. That’s the day when the World Boxing Super Series (WBSS) will host The Draft Gala and presumably all fighters competing in both bantamweight and super-lightweight tournaments will be present and correct.

So far both tournaments, bantamweight and super-lightweight, have promised plenty, in terms of participants, but have been shrouded in uncertainty. Not only that, there are still spots to be filled.

The hope now is that this so-called Draft Gala on July 20 will clear up a lot of the questions, reveal the identities of the fighters involved, and also deliver us some quarter-final decent matchups.

“I can’t wait for the bantamweight and super-lightweight tournament brackets to be unveiled during the Draft in Moscow on July 20,” said Kalle Sauerland, Comosa’s Chief Boxing Officer. “This is where the storylines for season two begin.

“Having 16 warriors on the stage at the same time creates a very special atmosphere, a certain tension. You have the feeling that one word or wrong move can heat up the stage.”

Frankly, we don’t require heat, needle or beef at this stage. That can wait. What we do need, though, are some answers, some fights and a bit of clarity.

For now, we know that four seeded boxers in both weight classes will pick their unseeded first round opponent, and we also know certain seeded fighters have mandatory obligations that must be fulfilled (meaning their first-round opponent is predetermined). But, beyond that, and beyond a few names already revealed, we’re all ears, eager to find out.

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