In a report by multiple outlets and Keith Idec of Boxingscene.com, Billy Joe Saunders is finally back in action as he takes on Serbia’s Shefat Isufi on Saturday, May 18. Promoter Frank Warren and broadcaster BT Sport announced Monday that the fight will take place in Lamex Stadium, home of the Stevenage Football Club in Saunders’ native country of England. The fight will be aired by BT Sport in the United Kingdom and on the streaming platform ESPN+ in the United States.
Saunders (27-0, 13 KOs) is currently the WBO’s No. 2-ranked contender at super middleweight. Isufi (27-3-2, 20 KOs) is rated No. 1 by the WBO among its 168-pound candidates, but the 29-year-old Serbian is looking to be making a big jump in competition to take on Saunders as his biggest fight to date was a match against Muhamed El Achi last July which he was convincingly by majority decision.
? FACE OFF ?
? Billy Joe Saunders v Shefat Isufi
? WBO Interim World Super Middleweight Title
? May 18th
— Frank Warren (@frankwarren_tv) March 25, 2019
This fight will be for the WBO interim super middleweight title as Gilberto Ramirez is still the WBO’s super middleweight champion.
Ramirez (39-0, 25 KOs) is taking on Tommy Karpency (29-6-1, 18 KOs) in a 10-rounder April 12 at Staples Center as part of the Lomachenko-Crolla card. For Ramirez after that bout, he’ll have the option to remain at 175 pounds or return to super middleweight to defend the title, likely against the winner of this fight.
Saunders is a southpaw who represented England at the 2008 Summer Olympics, who earlier in the year moved up from 160 pounds to 168. He weighed in at 178½ pounds for his last fight which was a four-round stoppage of 41-year-old Charles Adamu on December 22 in Manchester, England.
Two months earlier, the WBO had stripped Saunders of its middleweight title because he failed a performance-enhancing drug test administered by the Voluntary Anti-Doping Association late in August. Saunders had tested positive for oxilofrine, a banned stimulant, which caused the Massachusetts State Athletic Commission to deny Saunders’ license application for a fight against mandatory challenger Demetrius Andrade on October 20 in Boston.
The WBO subsequently stripped Saunders of the middleweight title he had reigned over for nearly three years. Andrade (27-0, 17 KOs), of Providence, Rhode Island, went on to out-point Namibia’s Walter Kautondokwa (17-1, 16 KOs) in match last October 20 at TD Garden to win the vacant title that was removed from Saunders.
The WBO later made Saunders the mandatory challenger for Andrade, however Saunders decided to move up in weight class to super middleweight.
— Telegraph Sport (@TelegraphSport) March 25, 2019