Billy Joe Saunders

By Frank Warren

THE DECISION TO postpone a major show is always made with a heavy heart – and a considerably lighter wallet – but the wellbeing of our fighters will always come first for me.

A hand injury suffered by Billy Joe Saunders has forced us to push back our 02 Arena show – originally scheduled for April 14 – to a new date of June 23.

I know full well this is not ideal for anyone else concerned, but it really is a case of needs must because I am not prepared to take the risk of Bill defending his world title while handicapped by injury.

With everything else going on in the middleweight division at the moment, the WBO world title is a valuable commodity for Bill and it is a chip he desperately wants to put on the table in a high stakes game against either Golovkin or Canelo later this year.

After working so hard and re-establishing his credibility at the highest level with fine wins over Willie Monroe jr and David Lemieux, Bill’s stock is very high again and it would be foolish in a dangerous fight against a tough campaigner like Martin Murray to go in undercooked.

The sensible option – and we explored a good few others – was to go for a delay and seek the next available date at the Arena where we can press ahead with the whole card.

It goes without saying that we apologise for any inconvenience and the natural frustration that will be caused by this switch of dates.

THE POTENTIALLY EPIC confrontation between Carl Frampton and Nonito Donaire in Belfast on April 21 is a fight deserving of a belt being on the line – and it has now got one.

Carl and Nonito will now be fighting for the WBO Interim world title, which will place the winner in pole position for a shot at the full champion Oscar Valdez.

Valdez, of course, is likely to be inactive for a considerable period due to the facial injuries he sustained in his title defence against Scott Quigg recently, so the WBO have made the decision to bring the Interim belt into play so the division continues to shape up while the champion recovers.

In the event of a Carl victory that we are all hoping for, holding interim champion status will also increase his options when it comes to a shot at a full title later in the year.

There is obviously the winner of Lee Selby and Josh Warrington to consider, but there is also now a fight with Valdez that Carl himself has said strongly appeals to him.

CONFIRMATION CAME THIS week of Liam Smith‘s opportunity to reclaim his old WBO world light middleweight title being set for May 12 at Turning Stone Resort Casino in Verona, New York.

Liam Smith

Liam will take on the champion Sadam Ali on HBO in the States and on BT Sport and BoxNation here in the UK.

I have every faith in Beefy bringing home the bacon, even though it will be a tough night against a man who turned out to be far from just making up the numbers in Miguel Cotto’s farewell fight and ended up upsetting the odds in some style.

Liam has just got that something about him that makes you believe in him. He has got a winning mentality and doesn’t get fazed by anything.

Even the prospect of going in with Canelo after missing out on weeks of sparring due to a cut didn’t knock him out of his stride. He still believed he was going to win the fight, went in with that mindset and refused to make any excuses when it went against him.

Unfortunately the disruption to his training did take its toll and he wasn’t himself in the ring that night.

Now, after two tough tussles with Liam Williams where he was determined to prove a point, Liam is back on the world title trail and he badly wants his old belt back.

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