Billy Joe Saunders declines IBF title shot, focuses on WBO
As predicted, unbeaten British middleweight Billy Joe Saunders has declined an opportunity to fight for the IBF championship in favor of taking on the winner of Andy Lee’s first WBO title defense against Peter “Kid Chocolate” Quillin, which is scheduled for April 11 in New York.
Saunders, rated No. 9 by THE RING at 160 pounds, was offered a crack at the vacant IBF title against the sanctioning body’s No. 1-ranked Hassan N’Dam, after Felix Sturm also passed on the opportunity.
“This was not an easy decision to make,” said the 25-year-old Saunders in a press release from promoter Frank Warren. “But I have a signed contract with the WBO to fight the winner of Lee and Quillin and I want to go down that route.
“I’m in boxing to prove that I’m a great and I want to bring more world titles back to Britain. I hope that the IBF championship is one that I can challenge for in the future in some big unification fights.”
Saunders (21-0, 11 knockouts) is a former British, Commonweath and European titleholder. In his last outing, the cerebral southpaw put the first blemish on the record of Chris Eubank Jr. via split decision.
The IBF title became vacant when Jermain Taylor was stripped for being in no condition to make a defense.