Champion super-middleweight boxer Billy Joe Saunders has gone to bat for Daniel Kinahan, again. Saunders latest defense of Kinahan, a man named by Irish courts as the acting boss of the Kinahan Criminal Organization, comes after MTK Global’s new CEO Bob Yalen said the reported mobster was stepping away from the sport.
Boxing Scene reports that in response to Kinahan’s alleged decision to leave boxing, Saunders questioned whether he would continue on with his career.
“There’s only one man I can trust and go away and work and tell him this is what I want to happen, and sometimes he’ll make it better,” said Saunders in a video that appeared on IFL TV. Without a man you can trust in this game 100 percent, it’s something I don’t want to be involved in any more.
“It’s about having somebody you can trust and go and get on with your business. Making fights is more stressful than getting ready to fight. I took a lot of advice from a very personal friend of mine in Daniel [Kinahan]. He’s walking away from boxing, which is a big, big loss in my eyes. I don’t know if I want to be a part of it at this level anymore moving forward.”
This is not the first time Saunders has spoken up for Kinahan. Two weeks ago, after Ireland Taoiseach Leo Varadkar expressed his government’s dismay at Kinahan’s involvement in negotiations that lead to Tyson Fury agreeing to fight Anthony Joshua next year, Saunders said that the European nation should “appreciate” Kinahan.
According to politicians and media outlets in Ireland’ the Kinahan Criminal Organization is the largest crime outfit in the country and is worth over $1 billion. The organization is primarily known for narcotics trafficking into Ireland, but also operates in various other countries in Europe and Oceania.
Since 2015 the Kinahan cartel has been involved in a bloody feud with the Hutch Gang that has lead to at least 20 people being killed in Ireland and Spain. That feud lead to a shooting at Dublin’s Regency Hotel in 2016. That shooting took place during a weigh-in for a boxing show promoted by MTK Global. It is believed Kinahan was the target of that attack. Shortly after the shooting Kinahan fled to Dubai.
In the middle east Kinahan attempted to brand himself as a boxing power-broker; advising MTK clients like Fury and Saunders (even though MTK claimed Kinahan, the company’s co-founder was no longer involved in their business). Recently Kinahan was hired by Bahrain’s KHK Sports (which then partnered with MTK Global). However, Kinahan was fired from his post at KHK after Varadkar’s comments.
Fury and Top Rank promoter Bob Arum also announced they would no longer negotiate through Kinahan after Varadkar spoke out and revealed that Irish officials were speaking with their counterparts in the UAE about Kinahan.
If Saunders does choose to bow out of boxing, he would leave behind a 29-0 record that saw him scoop the WBO middleweight and super-middleweight titles. Saunders had been in prime position to land a megafight with Canelo Alvarez. However, that fight may have been lost when Saunders had his boxing license suspended over a video he uploaded that included instructions on how men should hit their female partners while they are self-isolating during the COVID-19 pandemic.
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