Billy Joe Saunders has denied that he was making reference to Barry McGuigan’s daughter Danika, who tragically died of cancer in 2019, in his Instagram stories on Wednesday.
Britain’s WBO super-middleweight champion has made several disparaging remarks about the Irish ex-champion following BBC’s Panorama documentary on Monday night, but is adamant none of his posts were about Danika.
McGuigan was interviewed as part of the programme entitled ‘Boxing and the Mob’.
He spoke against Daniel Kinahan, who co-founded management team MTK Global (though later stepped back from the company) and has been known to be an advisor of Saunders.
Kinahan has been named by the High Court in Dublin as a senior figure in an organised crime gang involved in international drug trafficking operations and firearm offences.
Following McGuigan’s comments being aired on Monday, Saunders tweeted: “Barry McGuigan give your self a good look in the mirror. #RobinHood”
He also made disparaging remarks about the Irishman on Instagram, including on Tuesday night when he posted a picture of a rat with the caption: “Anyone know where I can get a cage for Barry? Just look at him, he is a bit scruffy and slimy.”
Saunders has insisted that his next post was a complete change of subject, as he said: “Any flower shops for Valentine’s so I can send my daughter? Thank you, DM me.”
On Wednesday Billy Joe added more to his story, uploading pictures of his daughter with the hashtag #PostYourDaughterChallenge.
Some interpreted these most recent posts as a reference or taunt about Barry McGuigan’s daughter, Danika McGuigan.
Danika tragically passed away aged just 33 in 2019 after a battle with cancer.
US promoter Lou DiBella reacted by blasting Saunders on social media: “This is reprehensible. Even in the cesspool that is boxing.
“This is simply unacceptable and if our sport had governance there would be severe ramifications. Using the tragic death of a man’s daughter to abuse him is inhuman. For f***’s sake.”
Billy Joe replied by uploading images to show that he had posted the pictures of his daughter not just on Instagram but also on Facebook – away from his tirade about Barry McGuigan.
Facebook was where the #PostYourDaughterChallenge originated from and Saunders insisted the two sections of his Instagram story were not connected.
He added: “Lou DiBella, ‘post your daughter challenge’ today on Facebook which I did on Instagram [and] Facebook.
“I certainly do not talk about the dead as I’m not that sick, so please don’t lower my name by tweeting that I’m suggesting anybody that is not with us anymore.
“Get your facts right. You’re f***ing sick to even post something like that when I have a young beautiful daughter of my own you sick individual.”
He also added screenshots of him messaging a florist, insisting his post about seeking flowers for his daughter was genuine and in no way a reference to Danika McGuigan.
Saunders then said in an Instagram video: “On Twitter I’m getting a lot of negative feedback because on my Instagram and Facebook there was a daughter challenge and I put my daughter up, my young beautiful daughter.
“I put that up with the floristry because I’ve got a flower company for Valentine’s for my daughter.
“[People] are suggesting that I’m aiming that at a certain ex-boxer’s daughter who passed away, which obviously I’m very sorry about.
“Yes, what I said about McGuigan and posted about McGuigan – I do think he’s a horrible man, but I would never lower my standards and talk about the dead…
“Please do not suggest that I talk about the dead, I’ve had very close loved ones who’ve passed away.
“For people to suggest I’d talk about the daughter, a dead daughter, when I’ve for a young daughter of my own – you scumbags, grow up, all get a life.”
Saunders concluded by posting a tweet showing that promoter DiBella had apologised to him privately and said he accepted this apology.