Promoter in disbelief as super middleweight star’s video outrages domestic violence campaigners
The British Boxing Board of Control has suspended the licence of world champion Billy Joe Saunders pending a hearing for a video on social media which appeared to condone domestic violence.
Hearn said he was “appalled” at Saunders for releasing an “idiotic” video last weekend in which the WBO super-middleweight champion filmed himself practising on a punch bag, advising men on how they could hit female partners if arguments occurred during the coronavirus pandemic.
Saunders, who claimed he had received death threats, faced a fierce backlash on social media and the British Boxing Board of Control swiftly released a statement: “Having considered comments made by Billy Joe Saunders on social media (the Boxing Board) have suspended his boxer’s licence pending a hearing under the Board’s misconduct regulation, at a time and venue to be confirmed as soon as possible.”
Saunders said yesterday: “I can only take it back and apologise. I will be donating £25,000 to support the domestic violence charity. It was a silly thing to do, but it has been done and I can’t take it back. It wasn’t meant to be suggesting ‘go and hit your wife and your loved ones’. I am getting a lot of hate mail wishing me dead, wishing my family and my kids dead.”
Hearn added: “I haven’t spoke to him. I spoke to his management team last night. I was appalled really,” Hearn said on Talksport radio. “It was so idiotic, it was so frustrating because I know Billy well. He’s a really good kid, with a really good heart. He does a lot for the community, he does a lot for charity, but every now and again he does the most stupid things.”
“He spent the weekend down at the NHS, delivering food packages, and meeting people. It’s one step forward, four steps back with Billy Joe and it is frustrating. You just can’t do it, especially when you’re in your (his) position. It’s unacceptable for Joe Bloggs down the street to do it. It’s much more unacceptable for a world champion boxer to be doing it.”
Meanwhile, Anthony Joshua’s three-belt world title defence against Kubrat Pulev could be moved from June 20 to July 25 at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium due to the COVID19 pandemic. Hearn, the promoter, revealed that this July date has already been reserved at the football ground.
He also confirmed that Dillian Whyte’s heavyweight showdown with Alexander Povetkin scheduled for Manchester on May 2 has been cancelled and rescheduled for July 4. It has also meant the cancellation of Lee Selby vs George Kambosos Jr (May 9), changed to July 11, and Oleksandr Usyk vs Dereck Chisora (May 23) with a date yet to be determined.
“All these events are at risk at the moment,” Hearn told Telegraph Sport. “There is so much uncertainty at the moment and all we can do is make contingencies. We had an original date of June 20 for Joshua-Pulev. It’s probably looking unlikely now, we just don’t know. We’re also got a date of July 25 at Spurs. That’s five weeks after, you’d hope live sport could return in July.”