Saunders denied licence, could lose belt

British boxer Billy Joe Saunders has been denied a licence to defend his WBO middleweight title against Demetrius Andrade because of a failed drugs test.

Saunders, 29, also faces being stripped of his title after a Voluntary Anti-Doping Association (Vada) test in August found the stimulant oxilofrine in a sample.

He was due to defend his title against Andrade at Boston’s TD Gardens on October 20, but the fight has been called off after the Massachusetts State Athletic Commission (MSAC) denied him a licence.

The decision comes as a surprise as the MSAC uses WADA, and not VADA regulations.

WADA and UKad only ban oxilofrine in competition, meaning a fighter is only in breach of rules if the drug is found in his system on on fight day.

It is banned at all times by VADA.

The WBO is yet to comment on the matter, but there is a good chance Saunders (26-0, 12 KOs) will lose his title.

Should that happen, Andrade will likely face Namibia’s Walter Kautondokwa for the vacant title.