Felix Sturm dismisses vacant IBF shot, Billy Joe Saunders handed deadline to decide

German former world title holder Felix Sturm has dismissed an opportunity to fight for his old IBF middleweight belt after champion Jermain Taylor was stripped by the organisation for his troubles outside the ring.

Sturm, 36, last held the red belt in May 2014 when dethroned by Australian Sam Soliman, but looks set for a rematch with compatriot Robert Stieglitz after the pair fought out a draw in November at a catchweight nearing the super-middleweight limit.

That has freed up an opportunity for number four-ranked Briton Billy Joe Saunders – who has been handed a deadline of this Thursday (February 12) by the IBF to accept or decline the chance to face top contender Hassan N’Dam N’Jikam.

“We can confirm that Felix Sturm turned down the fight,” IBF Chairman Lindsey Tucker explained to World Boxing News. “Billy Joe Saunders has until Thursday to decide.”

Saunders is currently on the lookout for an opponent for his US debut on the undercard of Andy Lee’s maiden WBO championship defence against ex-title holder Peter Quillin in April and a battle with N’Dam could fit the bill for promoter Frank Warren.

N’Dam is managed by Guillermo Rigondeaux’s handler Gary Hyde meaning making the Saunders fight in America shouldn’t be a problem and would be welcome co-feature to what looks on paper to be an entertaining match-up between Lee and undefeated Quillin.