For the second time, middleweight world titleholder Billy Joe Saunders said on Sunday that he has suffered an injury that has forced him to postpone a defense against British countryman Martin Murray.
Saunders was due to make his fourth defense against longtime contender Murray on June 23 at the O2 Arena in London in the main event of a card scheduled to stream live in the United States on ESPN+.
But on Sunday, Saunders said the fight was a no go, though he did not specify what kind of injury he had suffered.
"Apologies for any inconvenience, but due to the injury, I had to withdraw from the fight on June 23," Saunders said. "You have your ups in boxing, but for me, the last three months have been downs. Sorry to Martin and the fans. I'll be back soon."
Saunders and Murray were initially scheduled to fight on April 14, but Saunders said he suffered a hand injury in training and the bout was postponed until June 23.
Murray was disappointed once again.
"There's nothing I can do. I'm obviously gutted," Murray said. "My management team is working on alternatives, so hopefully I'll have a new date in the next couple of weeks. Thanks to everyone for their continued support."
Murray voiced serious displeasure in a video posted to his Instagram account.
"He's s--- out again. The first time it was his hand, now it's his hamstring," Murray said. "We know that he's trying to make a big money fight with [Gennady] Golovkin or Canelo [Alvarez] and I'm too risky to fight. He just don't want to fight me, but there's nothing I can do. This is the second time I've took myself away from my family, got my body in this condition -- ready to fight -- and I get told last minute it's canceled."
Promoter Frank Warren said he would announce the status of the card on Monday.
"Due to an injury suffered by Billy Joe Saunders, unfortunately he has had to withdraw from his June 23rd fight with Martin Murray at the O2 Arena. A full statement on the show will be made [Monday]," Warren said. "We apologize for any inconvenience."
The top two undercard bouts on the card are supposed to be heavyweight prospect Daniel Dubois (7-0, 7 KOs), 20, of England, in a 10-round fight against Tom Little (10-5, 3 KOs), 30, of England, and light heavyweight up-and-comer Anthony Yarde (15-0, 14 KOs), 26, of England, against an opponent to be determined also in a 10-rounder.
Saunders (26-0, 12 KOs), 28, a southpaw, is coming off the most impressive performance of his career. He traveled to Laval, Quebec, to face former world titlist David Lemieux in his home region on Dec. 16 and turned in a masterpiece as he easily outpointed Lemieux by scores of 120-108, 118-110 and 117-111.
Murray (36-4-1, 17 KOs), 35, has fought for world titles four times at middleweight and super middleweight but is 0-3-1. He was held to a controversial draw against then-middleweight titlist Felix Sturm in 2011 and lost middleweight world title fights to Sergio Martinez in 2013 and Gennady Golovkin in 2015 and a super middleweight title fight to Arthur Abraham later in 2015.
But Murray has won three fights in a row since a unanimous decision loss in June 2016 to George Groves, who went on to win a super middleweight world title.