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Avtandil Khurtsidze arrested for racketeering, fight with Billy Joe Saunders postponed

Khurtsidze is charged with RICO conspiracy and conspiracy to commit wire fraud

Boxing at Leicester Arena Photo by Nigel Roddis/Getty Images

Can’t say I saw this one coming.

The FBI recently arrested and charged 33 members of a “Russian Crime Syndicate” with various forms of conspiracy, including RICO (Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act), wire fraud, and identity fraud. Among those indicted? Interim WBO Middleweight Champion Avtandil Khurtsidze, whose upcoming fight with Billy Joe Saunders has been “postponed.”

Though the DoJ release lists a 33-year-old Avtandil Khurtsidze and “Tazman” is 38, Lou DiBella confirmed that they are indeed one and the same.

So what all did these merry men get up to? Well, some pretty bad shit, to be honest.

Acting Manhattan U.S. Attorney Joon H. Kim said: “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.’ The dizzying array of criminal schemes committed by this organized crime syndicate allegedly include 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.

Khurtsidze himself is charged with RICO conspiracy and conspiracy to commit wire fraud, each of which carries a maximum penalty of “20 years in prison; 3 years supervised release; $250,000 fine, or twice gross pecuniary gain/loss.”

The July 8th London card will go on without the main event. DiBella’s attorney made the following statement:

"We were as blindsided by this news as everyone else," Alex Dombroff, DiBella's attorney, told ESPN. "At this point we're still gathering information regarding the extent and nature of the indictment, but I think it is telling that Khurtsidze's name was not mentioned in the body of the Department of Justice's press release. We have offered to work with Frank Warren to ensure Billy Joe Saunders still has a title defense on July 8, be it against Khurtsidze or another opponent."

People, we live in profoundly strange times.

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