The WBO middleweight title defence of Billy Joe Saunders 26-0 (12) against former four-time world title challenger Martin Murray 36-4-1 (17) has been nixed due to an injury suffered by the champion in training.
The duo had been due to meet in April this year before a hand injury sustained by Saunders pushed the fight date back to June. This time is was reportedly a troublesome hamstring that put the kybosh on the fight.
Promoter Frank Warren confirmed the cancellation in a tweet and promised a full statement would be issued on Monday: “Due to an injury suffered by Billy Joe Saunders, unfortunately, he has had to withdraw from his June 23 fight with Martin Murray at the O2 Arena.”
The 35-year-old Murray has been unlucky not to win a world title in his four attempts. In 2011 he held long-time champion Felix Sturm to a controversial split draw in Germany and in 2013 he sent Sergio Martinez to the canvas in a world title fight only to lose a close decision in the champion’s home country of Argentina.
The St Helens middleweight is convinced that Saunders is just looking for an out so that he can make a fight with unified champion Gennady Golovkin in September after negotiations between the Kazakh bomber and popular Mexican Saul “Canelo” Alvarez came to a screeching halt last week over the purse split.
“We know that he’s just trying to make a big money fight with [Gennady] Golovkin or Canelo [Alvarez] and I’m too risky to fight, he just doesn’t want to fight me,” Murray posted on his Instagram account.
“But there’s nothing I can do. It’s the second time I’ve taken myself away from my family and got my body in this condition ready to fight and it’s got to the last minute and it’s cancelled. I’m obviously gutted but there’s nothing I can do.
“I just want to apologise to everyone who’s bought tickets, booked hotels, booked train fares. Thank you to everybody for the continued support and believing in me. My team are continuing to work so hopefully I’ll have a few date in the next couple of weeks.”
Martin was last in action in September last year when he stopped Armenian Arman Torosyan in four rounds at Liverpool’s Echo Arena on the undercard of the World Boxing super Series quarter-final between Callum Smith and Erik Skoglund.
Southpaw Saunders, 28, is coming off a dominant December win over big-punching Canadian David Lemieux.