(June 9) In keeping with its title "Mad Man" Queensberry Promotions Frank Warren has announced the World Middleweight title bout between Brooklyn, New York based Georgian, interim WBO World Middleweight titlist Avtandil “Mini Mike Tyson” Khurtsidze and Hatfield, Hertfordshire, UK’s WBO Champion Billy Joe “Superb” Saunders has been postponed.
The 38 year old, Khurtsidze, 33-2-2, 22Ko’s unbeaten in his last twenty seven bouts coming off back to back KO WBO title wins over Antoine Douglas and Tommy Langford was arrested and indicted earlier this week in New York as part of a Federal investigation of a New York-based Russian and Georgian crime syndicate charged with a wide spread of felonies under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO) with each felony charge carrying a potential sentence of up to 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.
The 27-year-old southpaw, Saunders, 24-0, 12Ko’s often linked with potential unification bouts with WBA/WBC/IBF and IBO World Middleweight Champion Gennady “GGG” Golovkin comes off a twelve round unanimous decision WBO title defense win over Artur Akavov this past December a title he won a year earlier scoring a majority decision over Andy Lee.
Saunders and Khurtsidze scheduled to face off July 8 at the Copper Box Arena in London will be postponed but the scheduled lower card will proceed as planned with the WBO European Light Heavyweight bout between Richard Baranyi and Anthony Yarde being elevated to main event.
The amended card:
Richard Baranyi, 18-1, 12Ko’s vs Anthony Yarde, 11-0, 10Ko’s 10rds
Darryll Williams, 15-0, 6Ko’s vs Jahmaine Smyle, 14-5-2, 6Ko’s 10rds
Asinia Byfield, 12 1, 4Ko’s vs Sammy McNess, 7-0, 3Ko’s 10rds
Gary Corcoran, 16-1, 7Ko’s vs Larry Ekundayo, 12-0, 3Ko’s
Daniel Dubois, 3-0, 3Ko’s vs TBA
Saunders vs Khurtsidze Presser!
Mad Men! Saunders Faces Mandatory Khurtsidze
July 8th Copper Box Arena, London!
(May 13th) WBO Middleweight World Champion Billy Joe Saunders will make the second defence of his crown against mandatory challenger Avtandil Khurtsidze on Saturday 8th July at London’s Copper Box Arena, live on BT Sport and BoxNation.
Hatfield’s Saunders (24-0, 12 KOs) defeated Irish hero Andy Lee to take the WBO strap in a close and absorbing fight back in December 2015 that saw the undefeated star floor the former Champion twice in the third round and go on to claim a majority decision from the judges.
A series of injuries led to a frustrating 2016 for Saunders, but he eventually defended his belt last December against Artur Akavov in Glasgow. Saunders was not at his best, but outpointed the game Russian.
Georgia’s Khurtsidze (33-2-2, 22 KOs) carved his route to the title with a knockout win over formerly-unbeaten Midlander Tommy Langford in April, ending the fight with a Mike Tyson-esque brutal left hook. He is an avoided man in the division and will fancy his chances of earning another victory on these shores.
A classic battle of boxer versus puncher, skill versus power awaits. Both fighters have eccentric personalities inside and outside of the ring with the Champion calling his shorter opponent a “puffed up Danny De Vito,” while Khurtsidze’s camp have promised to ‘beat down’ Billy Joe.
“No disrespect to him but I will show you what he is when I fight him,” said Saunders. “All he is to me is a puffed-up Danny De Vito coming forward throwing wild punches. It takes more than just power if you want to get anywhere near me.
“He will never beat me and I will make him look stupid on July 8th. He does possess knockout power but I’m going to make sure I’m in the shape of my life and give him the toughest night he has ever had.”
“I’m coming to the UK for another knockout,” said Khurtsidze. “I took Tommy Langford’s unbeaten record and I’m coming for Billy Joe’s; and his belt! I have waited patiently for my World Title show and I won’t waste it. Billy Joe didn’t want to fight me last year and he would be wise to avoid me again; I love to fight!”
Saunders’ promoter Frank Warren said: “Khurtsidze showed against Tommy Langford that he presents a clear and present threat to anyone in the Middleweight division. He charges forward like a bull and holds lethal power in both hands.
“I believe that a clever and slippery customer like Bill is far too stealthy to get himself cornered against Khurtsidze. He has one of the best chins in the Middleweight business and it will take something spectacular to beat him. This will be an intriguing fight.”
Ticket details for this unmissable match-up will be announced on Monday at the first Saunders vs. Khurtsidze press conference in London.