Middleweight world titleholder Billy Joe Saunders has suffered a hand injury, forcing his defense against British countryman Martin Murray scheduled for April 14 to be postponed, promoter Frank Warren announced on Tuesday.
Warren said the entire card at the O2 Arena in London has been postponed, including the vacant junior welterweight title bout between former lightweight titlist Terry Flanagan (33-0, 13 KOs), 28, of England, and Maurice Hooker (23-0-3, 16 KOs), 28, of Dallas.
Warren said Saunders, a southpaw, hurt his hand -- he did not say which one -- during a training session and that bout has been rescheduled for June 23 at the O2 Arena. Warren said that show will also include bouts involving light heavyweight Anthony Yarde (15-0, 14 KOs), heavyweight Daniel Dubois (7-0, 7 KOs) and junior welterweight Ohara Davies (16-1, 13 KOs).
"I'm gutted for Martin and I'm gutted for the fans," Saunders said. "I felt my hand go during a session this week and sought medical advice immediately. Unfortunately, I've been told that I can't punch anything for four weeks, so we've been left with no choice but to withdraw from the date.
"I'd like to thank my promoter, Frank Warren, for quickly sorting a new date for the fight. My trainer, Dominic Ingle, will make sure that I'm fit and prepared to put on another show on June 23rd. This is an extremely tough sport and these things can happen. It is vital that I'm firing on all cylinders heading into this fight, but for now it's all about recovering properly and focusing on the new June 23rd date."
Saunders (26-0, 12 KOs), 28, is coming off the most impressive performance of his career. He traveled to Laval, Canada, to face former titlist David Lemieux in his home region on Dec. 16 and turned in a masterpiece in his third title defense as he easily outpointed Lemieux by scores of 120-108, 118-110 and 117-111.
With a win over Murray, Saunders has said he would like to face the winner of the May 5 rematch between unified world champion Gennady Golovkin and former champion Canelo Alvarez for the undisputed 160-pound title.
Murray (36-4-1, 17 KO), 35, has won three fights in a row since suffering a lopsided decision loss to countryman George Groves, who went on to win a world title. But Murray is also 0-3-1 in world title fights, having been held to a controversial draw against then-middleweight titlist Felix Sturm in 2011 and losing middleweight title fights to Sergio Martinez in 2013, Gennady Golovkin in 2015 and a super middleweight title fight to Arthur Abraham later in 2015.
"I'm absolutely gutted that the fight has been postponed, but it is what it is," Murray said. "I'm just happy a new date's been set so I've got to look forward to that now."
Warren said fans with tickets for April 14 can return them to their point of purchase for a refund during the next two weeks or keep them for June 23 because they will remain valid.
Warren added that he is working with Dino Duva of Roc Nation Sports, Hooker's promoter, to secure a new date for the Flanagan-Hooker bout. They are due to meet for one of the 140-pound world titles vacated by Terence Crawford last summer after he became the undisputed champion.
"I am speaking with Hooker's representative, Dino Duva, and we will be making an announcement this week on where and when this fight takes place," Warren said. "It is not straightforward as this is an ordered fight for a vacant title, but we are working hard to get everything sorted and our priority is to secure Terry his chance to become a two-weight world champion".