Billy Joe Saunders bout cancelled after Avtandil Khurtsidze arrest

Avtandil Khurtsidze
Avtandil Khurtsidze, who is based in Brooklyn, was arrested in New York

Billy Joe Saunders' WBO middleweight title defence has been cancelled after his opponent was arrested for alleged links to organised crime.

The Briton was due to fight Avtandil Khurtsidze on 8 July in London.

But following his arrest in New York, the Georgian's promoter Lou DiBella has confirmed he will be unable to travel.

Thirty-three members and associates of a Russian crime syndicate, including Khurtsidze, have been detained.

In a statement, acting Manhattan US Attorney Joon H Kim said: "The dizzying array of criminal schemes committed by this organised 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 earned the bout with Saunders after winning the interim belt by stopping Britain's Tommy Langford in April.

Saunders' most recent fight was a successful title defence against Artur Akavov in December.

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