According to promoter Frank Warren, former middleweight world titleholder Billy Joe Saunders (27-0, 13 KOs) will be moving up to super middleweight to challenge Shefat Isufi (27-3-2, 20 KOs) the SSE Wembley Arena in London on April 13 — supposedly for the ‘vacant’ WBO super middleweight title.
Interestingly enough, Gilberto Ramirez has been the WBO’s super middleweight titleholder for some time now, and Carl Moretti of Top Rank, who promotes Ramirez, says their fighter has neither vacated his title nor received any word from the WBO that he’s been stripped of the belt. That makes Warren’s announcement of Saunders fighting for the vacant title rather unclear at the moment.
Either way Saunders is expressing his enthusiasm for his opportunity to win a title in another weight class, which could set up some big fights for him down the road.
“It is a brilliant opening for me,” Saunders said of the opportunity to go for another belt. “You’ve got these rumors that (middleweight titlist Demetrius) Andrade is going for shoulder surgery, as well as the financial side of it with the split. It all doesn’t add up. Me winning this super middleweight title will put me in a great position for unifications with the likes of Callum Smith, while we’ve got Chris Eubank boxing James DeGale (on Saturday).”
Saunders continued by saying that middleweight will still be his ‘real home’ and that even with this move he can still come back down to 160 at any time he pleases.
Meanwhile Saunder’s opponent Isufi is a little-known Serbian native who fights out of Germany. Isufi hasn’t fought one name that I even recognize, so I’m just going to go out on a limb and say Saunders will be by far the best opponent he’s ever took on.
We’ll keep you updated on the particulars of this situation as its released.