Andy Lee’s world title defence is called off again

Andy Lee’s world middleweight title defence against Billy Joe Saunders has been postponed again but there is no chance of the rearranged fight being staged in Ireland, according to promoter Frank Warren.

Lee was initially supposed to face his mandatory challenger Saunders in a homecoming fight at Thomond Park on September 19 but that was put back to October 10 after the WBO champion sustained a virus during training.

As well as the rearrangement, the fight was switched from Limerick to England as part of a treble world title bill at the Manchester Arena. However, the pair will have to wait even longer to meet after Saunders was cut above the eye during a sparring session.

The Hatfield southpaw is now waiting for a doctor’s opinion on the severity of the cut and how long he will be out but Warren thinks the fight will now not take place until November, and possibly even December.

He said: “Billy Joe sustained a cut and we’re now waiting to see how long he will be out for. I’ve spoken to everyone and they all know the score.”

Should Saunders require a long time to heal, Lee may yet feature in Manchester in a tune-up bout as he has now not boxed since his draw with Peter Quillin in the first defence of his title back on April 11.

The 31-year-old is now over the virus which put paid to the first fight with Saunders and has continued his preparation for the September fight and spent time sparring former British welterweight title challenger Bradley Skeete on Monday.

But Warren added: “We’re not sure what we’re doing yet with Andy’s fight, whether or not we will get a replacement. I don’t want to get into a situation where Andy has got a fight and there’s only an eight-week gap between that one and the rearranged fight with Bill and he might not be available then for some reason.”

However, Warren was unequivocal when asked whether the fight may now be switched back to Ireland following the second successive postponement. “No, no chance,” he said. “There’s not a venue that’s big enough to put it on in and we can’t do it outside because in November, December, it will be a bit chilly for everyone.”

It was initially feared that the whole show might be pulled following the postponement of the main event, the first world title fight between two members of the travelling community. However, with two other WBO title clashes still on the card, and more fights to be added, Warren has decided to carry on regardless.

Terry Flanagan will face Diego Magdaleno for the lightweight strap while Liam Smith takes on American John Thompson for the 154lb light-middleweight title. Thompson is also a keen acrylic paint artist who has sold pictures to Miley Cyrus in the past.


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