Russian mob arrest could lead to unlikely world title shot for Irish boxer

The boxing world was rocked today following the arrest of Georgian boxer Avtandil Khurtsidze.

The 38 year middleweight was detained in New York under the RICO Act, which focuses on organised crime and racketeering.

The arrest scuppers Khurtsidze’s upcoming world title fight with WBO middleweight champion Billy Joe Saunders [24(12)-0] at the Copper Box Arena in London which will now no longer take place

While it remains unclear what Khurtsidze has been accused of, Saunders’ promoter Queensberry released a statement today confirmed that the Eastern European boxer’s fight with Saunders “cannot take place on that date as his promoter Lou DiBella has confirmed he will be unable to travel.”

The Frank Warren-run outfit added that “we are currently planning to postpone the fight to a later date. However, due to the obvious seriousness of this matter, Queensberry Promotions are given no choice but to wait for more details to emerge before anything can be confirmed.’

While the situation remains up in the air, an Irish fighter has thrown his name into the mix to step in for the fight in one months time.

Tyrone middleweight Conrad Cummings [11(5)-1(0)-1] would offer to face the English champion, who would be making his second defence of the title won from Limerick’s Andy Lee back in December 2015.

The Coalisland fighter, promoted by Cyclone and trained by Shane McGuigan,expressed his willingness on Twitter.

While Khurtsidze was the mandatory challenger by virtue of his stunning knockout win over Tommy Langford, it is assumed the governing body would allow a voluntary defence considering the circumstances. Cummings, following his destructive stoppage of Gogi Knezevic which won him the WBO European title, is ranked #13 by the body and is therefore fits the criteria for such a defence.

Saunders, managed by Irish outfit Mack The Knife Global, would respond positively to ‘Mr. Dynamite’s’ proposal.

Obviously, the fight is way too early in the career of 26 year old Cummings. However taking such a fight, at relatively short notice, could be viewed as a so-called ‘no lose’ situation – with everything to gain should he pull off a shock, and valuable experience and respect being gained regardless of the result.

Cummings has previously, sparred the Beijing Olympian, with Barry McGuigan describing how “as a comparative novice I was hugely encouraged by what I saw against a [then] Commonwealth ­champion,” and that “I know he took a lot of ­confidence [from the spar.”

Cyclone run a show in Scotland, topped by Josh Taylor v Ohara Davies, on the same night, while Carl Frampton makes his Belfast return on July 29th. Cummings had been expected to feature on one of these cards and indeed is already in training camp in London.

LISTEN: Gavan Casey and Joe O’Neill speak to Luke Keeler and Paddy Barnes on Episode 6 of The Irish Boxing Show:

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Joe O'Neill

Reporting on Irish boxing the past five years. Work has appeared on irish-boxing.com, Boxing News, the42.ie, and local and national media. Provide live ringside updates, occasional interviews, and special features on the future of Irish boxing. email: joneill6@tcd.ie