WBO middleweight champion Andy Lee’s world-title defence against Billy Joe Saunders has been postponed after the challenger suffered a cut eye while sparring.
The two were scheduled to fight at the Manchester Arena on October 10 – having already had their original date of September 19, at Ireland’s Thomond Park, postponed by Lee catching a virus – but Saunders has been forced to withdraw.
The bill will regardless proceed and be headlined by the WBO lightweight champion Terry Flanagan’s first title defence, against Diego Magdaleno, and Liam Smith’s challenge against America’s John Thompson for the vacant WBO light-middleweight title.
Lee’s potential involvement on October 10 is to be decided in the next 24 hours. Saunders’ promoter Frank Warren plans to reschedule the fight between the two before the year’s end but confirmed it will remain in England, that Irish venues are not under consideration, and that he hopes to imminently announce an additional world title fight for the Manchester Arena bill.
“Billy Joe’s got a cut eye,” said Warren. “We’re just waiting for the doctor to confirm when he’ll be available. We’re looking to put it on towards the end of November, December. [The cut came in] sparring.
“We’re not sure what we’re doing [with Lee]. I don’t want to get into a situation where Andy’s got to fight and there’s an eight-week gap between the two and he’s then not going to be available to fight Billy Joe so we’re going to wait before tomorrow until making that decision.
“We’ve got two world titles on there, we’ve got a final eliminator for a world title on there, and one more fight at the moment. I’ll have that done by the latest tomorrow, and we’ll announce it.”