Top boxing governing bodies have announced that they will no longer hold title fights in Russia after the start of the military operation in Ukraine.
A joint statement from the World Boxing Council (WBC), International Boxing Federation (IBF), World Boxing Association (WBA) and World Boxing Organization (WBO) said organizations “does not sanction any boxing championship in Russia” until new assessment of the situation“.
The statement, titled “The world of boxing unite for immediate peace”, added that the military operation had “stop [on] boxing in Ukraine.”
The statement was signed by the presidents of each organizing body and could impact the careers of two Russian world champions in Dmitry Bivol and Artur Beterbiev.
Bivol last defended his WBA light heavyweight title against Umar Salamov in Yekaterinburg in December, and his next fight will see him defend the strap against pound-for-pound great Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas. May 7. .
Beterbiev last fought in Russia in March 2021 when he knocked out Adam Deines in the 10th round at Khodynka Ice Palace in Moscow, with his most recent fight in adopted city of Montreal, where he retained his WBC and IBF belts by seeing off Marcus Browne with a ninth-round knockout in December.
Beterbiev is set to face one of the other division champions in WBO leader Joe Smith Jr. in New York in June, but the decision by the organizing bodies throws cold water on him and Bibvol fighting in Russia anytime soon unless that the conflict with Ukraine is resolved.
The decision also affects fighters battling for lesser titles and in the title eliminators, meaning a March 26 card held in Yekaterinburg, where Magomed Kurbanov is set to face former champion Patrick Teixeira, will be impacted in the current state of affairs.
A card in Moscow on March 19, when Anna Levina was set to try to beat Halima Vunjabei for the vacant WBC International junior flyweight title, is also likely to be affected.
The position of the bodies comes after the WBC decided indefinitely not to “recognize or sanction” any activity in Russia up to “the restoration of peace and the preservation of human rights” in Ukraine, which, like Russia, has two world champions in heavyweight king Oleksandr Usyk and WBA flyweight tittlist Artem Dalakian.
The WBC nodded to its previous decision to freeze activities in South Africa due to apartheid from 1975 to 1992 as past evidence of a historic commitment to human rights.
WBO President Francisco ‘Paco’ Valcarcel revealed on Friday that he is considering removing Russian boxers from the WBO rankings amid the military operation in Ukraine, but it has been criticized by some as being unfair to the boxing community.
The Vitali and Wladimir Klitschko brothers, former heavyweight boxing champions, are well known to the organizing bodies.
Current Kyiv mayor Vitali was the WBC and Ring magazine champion in the mid-2000s and Wladimir held most pieces of the heavyweight crown until he was dethroned by Tyson Fury in November 2015.