Billy Joe Saunders’ forthcoming world title mission has been downgraded from vacant WBO super-middleweight title to interim belt – for now.
Gilberto Ramirez, the current champion, had announced plans to vacate the title and move up. The Mexican has now backtracked on leaving his championship behind.
Explaining fully the situation, Frank Warren revealed what happened: “Saunders was initially set to fight for the full WBO world championship against Isufi following the planned move of the champion Gilberto Ramirez to light heavyweight,” said a statement.
“After notifying the governing body of his intention to leave the division, the Mexican later retracted his statement. Although he will fight for the first time at light heavyweight on April 12 in Los Angeles.”
Saunders is unfazed on who he has to face to finally be crowned full title holder.
“I believe I am the best Middleweight and now the best super middleweight in the world,” he said.
“I box with my brain rather than with power. My style is wrong for certain fighters so there is a lot of opportunity for me at super middleweight,” added Saunders.
Former cruiserweight Shefat Isufi stands in the way of Saunders moving towards his two-weight title dream.
Handler Warren believes the time is right for a new adventure in the higher division.
“Moving up to super middleweight opens up all sort of doors for future fights. The massive fights he craved at middleweight where his willingness to fight the other champions was not reciprocated,” said the promoter.
“Bill has operated at middleweight for a long time now and reached the top. So we both now believe the time is right to expand his horizons and move up a weight,” he added.
Should Ramirez remain at 175 pounds after April 12, Saunders v Isufi is then expected to be elevated to full status for the vacant crown.
If Ramirez decides to remain at 168, a super-fight with Saunders on ESPN could follow later this year.