Former world champion Billy Joe Saunders has spoken about his darkest moments in boxing, and has looked back to 2018 to highlight the worst.
Saunders is a slick boxer who can make opponents look average. He did so notably against a thunderous puncher like David Lemieux in 2017 to defend the WBO middleweight title he won from Andy Lee back in 2015 in a thrilling fight that saw him put Lee down in the third.
He also had a solid early win over Chris Eubank Jr and beat the likes of Willie Monroe Jr and Martin Murray before eventually coming unstuck against Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez in 2021.
That was the last time he fought and it ended in the eighth round when Canelo landed a fierce uppercut that broke Saunders’s orbital bone and led to him retire on his stool.
That first loss, however, was not the darkest moment of his career. Speaking to Keep A LukeOut, Saunders has admitted that it was failing a drug test in the build-up to fighting Demetrius Andrade in a bout that never was back in 2018.
“It would probably be failing a drug test. Training away for a fight, defending my middleweight title, and I remember I was playing FIFA. I had a call, ‘you’ve failed a drug test.'”
Saunders then explained his experiences have influenced how he thinks about fighters who have failed tests since.
“This is the reason I’m so vocal about Conor Benn, give him a chance, because nobody knows what you go through from that sort of phone call. You look online, a lot of things happen, I never wanted to look at boxing again.
I thought I was stitched up. It was a nasal spray and it went from bad to worse. Whatever happens in life that’s bad it always seems worse at the beginning. But then you realise there are people out there with much bigger problems.”