Former WBO World middleweight champion has seemingly moved up to 168lbs – with the WBO installing him as number one contender in the latest super middleweight rankings.

With current beltholder Gilberto Ramirez having relinquished his title and moved to light heavyweight, Saunders will be afforded a shot at the vacant title as per the WBO rules that state a champion moving up in weight will automatically challenge for the title.

Saunders will likely face German contender Shefat Isufi for the vacant title, which will afford the Hatfield-native a golden opportunity to become a two-weight king, with Isufi’s record making for unspectacular reading.

Though unbeaten since July 2015, Isufi’s opposition has been of a, frankly, dire level with the 29-year-old facing nobody of any significance since his last loss which, incidentally, came at the hands of former Anthony Yarde victim Dariusz Sek.

The bout will come as a welcome opportunity for Saunders who, after being stripped of his World title in 2018 due to a VADA violation for the banned stimulant oxilofrine, returned to the ring in December with a fourth round stoppage of Charles Adamu in Manchester.

The news kicks off an interesting series of events in the WBO rankings, with former unified middleweight champion Gennady Golovkin now mandatory challenger to former-would-be-Saunders-foe Demetrius Andrade, and the aforementioned Ramirez now ahead of Saunders’ promotional stablemate Anthony Yarde in the race to challenge for Sergey Kovalev’s light heavyweight crown.