Billy Joe Saunders will challenge the decision by the Massachusetts State Athletic Commission (MSAC) to refuse him a license after giving up his WBO middleweight title due to the “mental anguish” caused by the case.

The Englishman had been due to defend the belt on Oct. 20 against Demetrius Andrade, who will now face Walter Kautondokwa instead in Boston.

Saunders was denied a license by the MSAC at a hearing on Tuesday after the champion returned an adverse analytical finding in a pre-competition test carried out by the Voluntary Anti-Doping Association (VADA).

Promoter Frank Warren issued a statement confirming the undefeated Saunders has relinquished the WBO belt, while making clear the intention to take the matter further.

“Because of the mental anguish brought about by this case and out of respect for the WBO, Billy Joe will with a heavy heart relinquish his world title, whilst the issue is in the process of being resolved,” the statement read.

The MASC responded to the VADA result after a voluntary test recorded an adverse finding for oxilofrine, a stimulant that is only banned in competition by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) and UK Anti-Doping (UKAD).

As a state-appointed body, the MASC should have followed WADA’s code, according to Warren.

“This is not some technical legal argument. It is the simple facts and the truth,” he said. “The MSAC, in their decision to deny a license to Billy Joe, have wilfully refused to properly apply the code of WADA to their ruling. Further the MSAC refused to properly consider submissions from Billy Joe’s representative despite him being present at the hearing.

“Unlike the British Boxing Board of Control, the MSAC is a state-appointed governing body and therefore the decision will be appealed and challenged in the Superior Court at the earliest opportunity.”

WBO president Francisco Valcarcel Mulero confirmed Andrade’s bout with Kautondokwa will be for the now-vacant title, while also calling for the governing body to hand Saunders a six-month suspension.

“B.J. Saunders has voluntarily vacated the WBO middleweight title, and publicly apologized for his violation of the Massachusetts Athletic Commission’s anti-doping regulations,” Mulero said in an official statement. “Therefore, the clash between Demetrius Andrade and Walter Kautondokwa scheduled for October 20th will now be for the vacant world crown.

“Also, I will recommend to the WBO executive committee that Saunders receives a six-month suspension for his transgression.”



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