The rumour mill has gone into overdrive after promoter Frank Warren released a carefully worded statement about WBO middleweight champion Billy Joe Saunders withdrawing from his scheduled bout against four-time world title challenger Martin Murray on June 23.
While Murray is still expected to fight at the O2 Arena in London on that date against a stand-in opponent, there was no mention of rescheduling the fight with Saunders who cited a hamstring injury as the reason behind his withdrawal from the fight.
“I am sorry to Martin and the fans for the inconvenience this has caused them. I know Martin has put himself through two hard camps now and I am hugely sorry that I’ve let both him and the fans down and prevented a great fight from happening,” said Saunders.
The 28-year-old southpaw was previously scheduled to face veteran Murray in April before a hand injury nixed that bout.
“It has been a tough time with injuries through the past few months but at this level against a top operator like Martin Murray you cannot risk going into a fight less than 100%,” continued Saunders.
“But I do appreciate the fans support and I know Frank will be looking to get me back in the ring as soon as possible when I’m fit to fight.”
With no announcement on when – or even if – the fight will be rescheduled, there is one school of thought that says Saunders will move on and directly target WBC, WBA and IBF middleweight champion Gennady Golovkin instead. The Kazakh bomber and his team have reached an impasse with Golden Boy Promotions over a purse split for the proposed Saul “Canelo” Alvarez rematch in September, a fight that was itself that was cancelled from its original May date after the popular Mexican failed two drug tests back in February.
Warren has scoffed at rumours that the Hatfield traveller isn’t injured and is, in fact, positioning himself for a shot at Golovkin’s three world titles.
“I’ve seen rumours that Billy isn’t injured but he is a fighting man and there’s no way he would pull out unless he had to,” said Warren in the media release. “It’s a shame after the devastating performance against Lemieux last Christmas as this was a chance for Billy to keep momentum as we continue to chase big fights for him.
“Martin may still feature on the card and we are working day and night trying to put something together and we will let the fans know news on this when we’ve had a chance to look at all options”.