The upcoming July 8th middleweight title fight between Billy Joe Saunders and Avtandil Khurtsidze at the Copper Box in London has been cancelled.
Khurtsidze has been arrested due to crime syndicate connections to a New York based Russian mafia. The Georgian fighter is not allowed travel abroad, therefore a fight against Saunders is not happening.
The U.S Attorney for the Southern District of New York have released the following statement:
“Today, we have charged 33 members and associates of a Russian organized crime syndicate allegedly engaging a panoply of crimes around the country. The indictments include charges against the alleged head of this national criminal enterprise, one of the first federal racketeering charges ever brought against a Russian ‘vor’ [which refers to an order of elite criminals from the former Soviet Union who receive tribute from other criminals]. The dizzying array of criminal schemes committed by this organized crime syndicate allegedly includes a murder-for-hire conspiracy, a plot to rob victims by seducing and drugging them with chloroform, the theft of cargo shipments containing over 10,000 pounds of chocolate, and a fraud on casino slot machines using electronic hacking devices. Thanks to the remarkable interagency partnership of FBI, CBP, and NYPD, we have charged and arrested 33 defendants allegedly involved in this criminal enterprise.”
Khurtsidze was known as ‘The Kickboxer’ and he is among the 33 men who have been charged.
Promoter Frank Warren has also released a statement concerning this issue: