The BJ Saunders middleweight title defense set for July 8 versus Avtandil Khurtsidze, slated to take place in England, has been postponed.
Khurtsidze, a Russian living in Brooklyn, was swept up in a law enforcement snare on Wednesday, and his arrest forced organizers to pull the plug.
Here is the lowdown, courtesy the AP:
NEW YORK — More than two dozen alleged members of a New York City-based Russian organized crime gang have been charged with racketeering and other crimes.
Federal prosecutors say the suspects operated across the country and abroad and trafficked in stolen goods, including cigarettes and even a cargo shipment of more than 10,000 pounds of chocolate.
The gang members also were charged with plotting to rob victims by seducing and drugging them with chloroform and using electronic devices to hack casino slot machines.
Khurtsidze is 38, and holds a 38-2-2 record. He is promoted by NY-based deal-maker Lou Dibella. He beat Brit Tommy Langford in April, via stoppage, to set up this now scuttled title shot. The interim WBO middleweight crownwas up for grabs there.
Saunders, age 27, holds a 24-0 record. He fights infrequently, just five times in 3.5 years.
Saunders’ promoter is Frank Warren. He put out this statement:
Today, Queensberry Promotions were informed that Billy Joe Saunders’ mandatory challenger Avtandil Khurtsidze was yesterday arrested in New York indicted under the RICO Act.
As such, his contest with WBO World Middleweight Champion Billy Joe Saunders scheduled for Saturday 8th July at the Copper Box Arena, cannot take place on that date as his promoter Lou DiBella has confirmed he will be unable to travel.
The event at the Copper Box Arena on July 8th, televised on BT Sport and BoxNation, will still take place and feature fantastic fights including the WBO European Light-Heavyweight Championship contest between Richard Baranyi and Anthony Yarde, the return of teenage Heavyweight sensation Daniel Dubois and the eagerly-anticipated rematch between Darryll Williams and Jahmaine Smyle for the English Super-Middleweight title; with further additions to the card to follow in due course.
We are currently planning to postpone the fight to a later date. However, due to the obvious seriousness of this matter, Queensberry Promotions are given no choice but to wait for more details to emerge before anything can be confirmed.
Further information, including additions to the show, ticketing and refund options, will follow in due course.