WARNING: Distressing content

Billy Joe Saunders, the WBO super-middleweight champion, has been suspended by the British Boxing Board of Control after he released a video advising men how to hit their female partners.

In the video Saunders, unbeaten in 29 pro bouts, uses a punch bag to explain how to react if "your old woman is giving you mouth" and "she's coming at you, spitting a bit of venom in your face". Saunders then described how to "hit her on the chin" and "finish her off".

A statement released today by the BBBoC read: "The British Boxing Board of Control have considered comments made by Billy Joe Saunders on social media. We 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."

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Prior to the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic, Saunders was close to finalising a multi-million dollar deal to face one of the biggest stars in boxing, Mexico's Saul 'Canelo' Alvarez, in Las Vegas on May 2. That fight is now in jeopardy - and not just because of the outbreak.

Saunders issued an apology for "offending any women" after a fierce backlash on social media, writing that he "would never condone domestic violence and if I saw a man touch a woman I would smash him to pieces myself". He also pledged to donate £25,000 (NZD $51,000) to domestic violence charities.

Billy Joe Saunders. Photo / Photosport
Billy Joe Saunders. Photo / Photosport

Speaking to Talksport, the WBO super-middleweight champion said it was a silly mistake and he "obviously wasn't thinking".

"I didn't mean for anyone to get upset about it. There are people dying all around the world with coronavirus and I was just trying to take the heat off that a little bit. It clearly hasn't done, my sense of humour is not everyone's cup of tea."

Promoter Eddie Hearn, also speaking to Talksport, said he was appalled by the video.

"It was so idiotic, it was so frustrating because I know Billy well. It's one step forward, four steps back with Billy Joe Saunders and it is frustrating.

"You just can't do it, especially when you're in your 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.

"Thinking you're having a laugh, or not having a laugh, young people are watching that video. People who are in abusive relationships are watching that video. You cannot do it, it's unacceptable."

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On March 29 alone between 8pm and midnight, New Zealand police received one family harm call every three minutes.

Saunders held a world title in the middleweight division before moving up to super-middleweight. He was previously fined £100,000 by the British Board of Boxing Control after video footage emerged of him offering a woman drugs in October 2018.

DO YOU NEED HELP?
If you're in danger now:
• Phone the police on 111 or ask neighbours or friends to ring for you.
• Run outside and head for where there are other people.
• Scream for help so that your neighbours can hear you.
• Take the children with you.
• Don't stop to get anything else.
• If you are being abused, remember it's not your fault. Violence is never okay
• Call the Crisis Support Line 24/7 at 0800 REFUGE (0800 733 843)
or 06 870 6024

Where to go for help or more information:
• Shine, free national helpline 9am-11pm every day - 0508 744 633 www.2shine.org.nz
• Women's Refuge: Free national crisis line operates 24/7 - 0800 refuge or 0800 733 843 www.womensrefuge.org.nz
• Shakti: Providing specialist cultural services for African, Asian and Middle Eastern women and their children. Crisis line 24/7 0800 742 584
• It's Not Ok: Information line 0800 456 450 www.areyouok.org.nz