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WBC president will not sanction Artur Beterbiev Vs Dmitrii Bivol due to war in Ukraine

Boxing governing body, the WBC have reiterated their stance on not sanctioning fights involving some Russian nationals. 

The decision came in 2022 due to the war between Russia and Ukraine. The WBC also removed all fighters representing Russia and Belarus from their ranking’s, Belarus being a supporter of the Russian invasion

However, the rule appears to have some flexibility. WBC champion Artur Beterbiev (19-0, 19 KOs) is obviously Russian, but due to his Canadian citizenship the WBC have allowed Beterbiev to remain as champion, despite the knockout artist having no public stance on the war in Ukraine.

Boxing Fans' Wait Continues as Beterbiev-Bivol Matchup Remains Elusive

Boxing fans have been calling for Beterbiev to face fellow undefeated Russian Dmitrii Bivol (21-0, 11 KOs) for sometime, but they will have to keep waiting.. 

“The WBC cannot sanction a fight with Bivol in it. That is because of our position with Russia [and the war with Ukraine]. WBC would not accept that fight.” Stated WBC president Mauricio Sulaiman in an interview for Izquierado.

“As of today, that is the position of the WBC. As long as there is no boxing in Ukraine, we will not accept boxing in Russia. At least, not sanctioned by the WBC. At this moment, [our ruling is] that Beterbiev has to fight with his WBC mandatory rival, Callum Smith.”

The Role of the Kremlin in Controlling Russian Boxing: Beterviev and Bivol Seen as Key National Assets

The word from Russia is that there is no rush to make the all Russian 175 lbs mega fight. The consensus is that the country wanted to make this fight their own, talk of Moscow or St Petersburg staging such a spectacle has been regularly discussed in Russian media for years. 

The current war is clearly central to all of this right now, the money Russia would invest into such a fight would be more than substantial. But due to war and sanctions the money in the country is going elsewhere while the war continues. The world’s largest geographical country has a deep love for boxing, the country has a national holiday dedicated to the sport. The Kremlin plays a big part in controlling both amateur and professional boxing under the Russian Boxing Federation, both Beterviev and Bivol are considered huge assets for the nation. 

Publications have suggested that Bivol could use his Korean ancestry to gain a second citizenship, but there has been no suggestion that Bivol will go to these lengths. It seems as if he were to add to his passport collection, it wouldn’t get the two in the ring regardless. 

We have seen nationalities change overnight on Boxrec. The Eastern region sees a large amount of inter-nationality marriages due to the former Soviet Union having many migrate throughout the regionfor work. Despite Bivol being a resident of California as well, the WBA champion has made no change to his nationality and does appear to do so anytime soon. 

Peculiarly, Russian light heavyweight Igor Mikhalkin still remains in the WBC rankings at number 8. The former world title challenger has made no change to his nationality, but is a resident of America and also a Russian national.

Both men have other fights to deal with in the meantime, Beterbiev has been mandated to fight Callum Smith and Bivol looks set for a rematch with Canelo Alvarez this summer.

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