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WBO strips Khurtsidze of interim title

Avtandil Khurtsidze remains in jail as he faces RICO charges for his alleged involvement in a Russian crime syndicate.

Boxing at Leicester Arena Photo by Nigel Roddis/Getty Images

Middleweight contender Avtandil Khurtsidze continues to sit inside a New York jail as he faces up to 40 years for his alleged involvement in a Russian/Georgian crime syndicate. The group has been accused of robbery, racketeering, murder-for-hire, and other organized crime-style activities.

Unfortunately Khurtsidze had just been lined up to get a middleweight title shot at Billy Joe Saunders this summer, but that came to an abrupt halt after being recently nabbed by authorities.

Now, as Khurtsidze awaits trial, the WBO has decided to strip him of his interim world title, ESPN reports. The sanctioning body had sent a letter on June 8th to Khurtsidze’s promoter, Lou DiBella, asking for a reason why he shouldn’t be stripped of his interim title, but that letter went unanswered so the sanctioning body went forward and did it anyway.

Khurtsidze now has 10 days to file an appeal, afterwhich the “stripping” will become final with no other recourse available to Khurtsidze. It could prove to be extremely difficult for Khurtsidze to go through with any appeal process within the next 10 days, though, as he’s currently being held without bail per his RICO related charges (specifically conspiracy and conspiracy to commit wire fraud). Each charges carries up to a 20 year prison sentence, three years parole, as well as a $250,000 fine.

Saunders, meanwhile, is currently looking for another opponent to make an mandatory title defense against, which has been ordered by the WBO.

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