A high-profile summer return between middleweights Billy Joe Saunders and Chris Eubank Jr is in jeopardy following a row over title belts between the fierce UK rivals.
Talks have been ongoing between the pair over a second meeting on the back of their entertaining clash in November, although a deal is now on the verge of falling apart as Eubank is unwilling to drop the WBA interim championship.
As Saunders in the WBO mandatory challenger and lined up to face full title holder Andy Lee once the Irishman is fully fit, the Londoner and his promoter Frank Warren required Eubank to vacate his belt in order for Saunders to keep the number one position he currently holds.
The winner of the rematch would then instantly gain a world title shot against Lee in the autumn with victory, a fight that Warren is keen is keen to host in the UK. If Eubank got his way and the pair then fought for the interim WBA belt, the winner would no longer be ranked by the WBO and be left with the possibility of travelling to the US to face ‘regular’ champion Danny Jacobs instead.
This has now put a block on talks between both camps and as it stands Saunders is mulling over the possibility of fighting an alternative opponent as he bids to keep busy until he opportunity to challenge Lee finally comes around.
It’s a no-win situation for Saunders if he fights for the interim title, but given the fact that Eubank has only just picked up the black and gold belt with an impressive win over Dmitry Chudinov, it’s understandable that he wouldn’t want to lose that status so soon.
Both are now locked in a Mexican stand-off as they continue to dig their heels in, but unless the situation can be resolved soon, the British fans will miss out on what promised to be one of the biggest domestic fights of the year.