Avtandil Khurtsidze went from interim middleweight champion about to receive a career-high payday against Billy Joe Saunders to being found guilty of racketeering charges.
The former interim WBO middleweight champion has been found guilty of racketeering charges and a variety of associated charges. Khurtsidze was arrested and indicted on June 2017 in New York as part of a federal government roundup of more than a dozen people accused of involvement in a New York-based Russian and Georgian crime syndicate which operated in New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Nevada and abroad.
Manhattan U.S. Attorney Geoffrey S. Berman commented on the matter, saying that Khurtsidze was the chief enforcer to Razhden Shulaya and was involved in many illegal acts including extortion, theft and trafficking.
“As a unanimous jury found, Razhden Shulaya [Russian so-called thief-in-law] and his chief enforcer, Avtandil Khurtsidze, engaged in an array of criminal schemes that included violence, extortion, theft, trafficking in stolen goods, and fraud. Shulaya, a Russian ‘vor v zakone’ or ‘thief-in-law,’ is now a convicted thief under U.S. law. Both defendants now await sentencing for their crimes,” Berman said.
Khurtsidze was supposed to fight WBO middleweight champion Billy Joe Saunders on July 8, 2017 but that fight got scrapped as soon as news of Khurtsidze's arrest broke out and was stripped of the interim title two weeks after his arrest. Khurtsidze, who sports a 33-2-2 record, last fought in April 2017 when he knocked out Tommy Langford to win the interim title. Khurtsidze is a former European and IBO middleweight champion.
Sentencing will take place on September 21. According to preliminary information from Georgia Today, Khurtsidze faces 40 years of imprisonment.