Billy Joe Saunders turns down IBF title shot to focus on WBO challenge

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#1 WBO middleweight contender Billy Joe Saunders (21-0, 11 KOs) has turned down an opportunity to fight for the IBF title to focus on his WBO challenge, Saunders was given the opportunity to face Hassan N’Dam for the vacant IBF 160 pound title.

The IBF stripped American Jermain Taylor of the title after the American’s latest arrest and offered Saunders the title shot.

The Hatfield fighter is now the second fighter to have rejected the offer from the IBF after Felix Sturm also passed up the opportunity; Saunders has set his sights on facing the winner of WBO middleweight champion Andy Lee and former WBO champion Peter Quillin.

The IBF number four ranked contender currently holds the British, Commonwealth, European and WBO International titles, is the mandatory and number one ranked WBO challenger.

Billy Joe Saunders has a signed contract with the WBO to fight the winner out of world champion Andy Lee and former champion Peter Quillin.

The 25-year-old will be hoping that Andy Lee (34-2, 24 KOs) will be able to overcome Peter “Kid Chocolate” Quillin (31-0, 22 KOs) and should WBO middleweight champion come through that fight it could set up a big money bout between Saunders and Lee.

Saunders is grateful to the IBF for offering him the chance to fight for their world title and hopes that he can fight for that title in the near future with his quest to unify the 160lb division.

Saunders said: “I was honoured to be asked to fight for the IBF World title, which has been held by some of the greatest fighters in the sports history, and it was not an easy decision to make.

“But I have a signed contract with the WBO to fight the winner out of Lee and Quillin and I want to go down that route.

“I’m in boxing to prove that I’m a great and bring more world titles back to Britain so I hope that the IBF title is one the I can challenge for in the future in some big unification fights.”

Irishman Lee, 30, makes the first defence of his WBO version of the world title against former champion Quillin in Brooklyn on April 11, the American who relinquished the same belt last year and is unbeaten in 32 fights.

Saunders could feature in a non-title fight on the undercard.
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