Middleweight world titleholder Billy Joe Saunders and mandatory challenger Demetrius Andrade will meet this fall after their promoters, Frank Warren and Eddie Hearn of Matchroom Boxing, came to an agreement on Wednesday.
Hearn told ESPN that the fight "looks like" it will take place Oct. 20 and that he plans to switch the card he has planned that night in Los Angeles to the East Coast, where Andrade is from.
The fight was due to go to a purse bid at 6 p.m. ET at a Kissimmee, Florida, hotel, but it was canceled when their representatives told WBO president Francisco "Paco" Valcarcel that they had reached a deal.
"I have been informed that Matchroom Boxing and Frank Warren have come to an agreement for Saunders versus Andrade. Therefore, there is no need for the bid process," Valcarcel said.
Deals between the longstanding rival British promoters Eddie Hearn of Matchroom Boxing and Warren are rare, so many believed the fight would indeed go to a purse bid, under which Saunders would have been entitled to 70 percent of the winning bid.
But Hearn is armed with millions to spend on fights as part of his new deal with the all-sports streaming service DAZN, which will launch in the United States in September, and he likely made Warren and Saunders an offer they couldn't refuse. Terms of the deal were not announced.
"Hopefully, we can put the fight in my hometown [of Providence, Rhode Island]," Andrade told ESPN. "Money talks. When you have the financing behind you, you can make deals. The deal got done. This is the type of team I needed in my career. Better now than never. I put myself in a great position. Now it's my time to do what I've been wanting to do."
Hearn signed Andrade, a southpaw like Saunders, two weeks ago in his mad dash to line up talent ahead of the launch of DAZN. A serious world title fight such as the one between Saunders and Andrade is just the kind of bout Hearn needs to help attract subscribers to the $9.99-a-month service, which did an eight-year, $1 billion deal with Matchroom Boxing that was announced in May.
Andrade, who has not boxed since he moved up to middleweight and easily outboxed Alantez Fox in a one-sided decision in October, signed with Hearn after buying out his contract from careerlong co-promoters Star Boxing and Banner Promotions.
"Delighted to agree terms for 'Boo Boo' Andrade to challenge Billy Joe Saunders for the WBO world title," Hearn wrote on social media.
Warren said on social media that Saunders (26-0, 12 KOs), 28, who is from England, would indeed travel to defend the belt against Andrade in the United States.
Andrade (25-0, 16 KOs), 30, a 2008 U.S. Olympian and a former two-time junior middleweight word titlist, had been scheduled to fight Oct. 6 in Chicago on Hearn's first U.S.-based DAZN card, but once the deal with Saunders was made, that quickly changed.
Saunders, also a 2008 Olympian, won his 160-pound world title by majority decision against Andy Lee in December 2015 and has made three defenses. Most recently, Saunders won a stunningly one-sided unanimous decision over former world titlist David Lemieux in Lemieux's home region in Laval, Quebec, on Dec. 16. Saunders had been scheduled to defend his belt against countryman Martin Murray on June 23 but withdrew because of an injury.
Saunders said he's ready for Andrade, tweeting to Hearn, "Your man is getting spanked."
Said Andrade, "He's world champion, but my name ain't David Lemieux. I believe I can do anything he can do better. My dog will be unleashed when it's time to get in the ring. And I can smack talk, too. I can dish it out and I can take it. I can talk the talk and walk the walk."