Russian boxers reinstated to global rankings


The WBA announced the development on Tuesday

The World Boxing Association (WBA) has reinstated Russian and Belarusian fighters to their places in its rankings, describing the move as “for the sake of the sport.”

The WBA initially announced that non-champion Russian fighters would be removed from its rankings earlier this year after the military operation in Ukraine began.

It continued to sanction title fights involving Russians, however, which is why Dmitry Bivol’s successful WBA light heavyweight title defenses against Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez in May and Gilberto Ramirez in November went ahead.

At the WBA’s Convention this week to celebrate 100 years in the sport, Bivol, who was born in Kyrgyzstan but moved to St. Petersburg as a child, was named the organization’s Fighter of the Year for his last two impressive displays.

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On Tuesday night, the WBA also announced that Russian and Belarusian boxers would be reinstated to its rankings.

“The athletes from this country are not soldiers or part of the government, so they have nothing to do with the war against Ukraine or any ongoing conflict,” the WBA said in a statement.

“However, it was determined that any fighter who speaks out in favor of the war or is involved in it will be removed immediately. 

“For the sake of the sport and in favor of the careers of the fighters, they will be able to return to the rankings and fight for WBA titles. 

“The decision was made after an extensive deliberation of all the members of both committees during the Centennial Convention of the World Boxing Association (WBA), taking place since Sunday, December 11 at the Caribe Royale Hotel in Orlando, Florida,” it concluded.

Bivol is one of the WBA’s biggest draws with an undisputed unification bout against compatriot and IBF, WBC and WBO champion Artur Beterbiev on the horizon in 2023.

He has previously declined to talk about the military operation in the Western media, saying “it’s always important to be talkative about things you are an expert in,” to reporters in March ahead of the title fight with Alvarez.

READ MORE: Boxing body removes Russians from rankings

“For example, I’m not a doctor, I don’t understand viruses, so I don’t speak about Covid. And the same goes here, related to politics. It’s not something I completely understand, so I’m not going to say much. But if we’re talking about sports, I’m willing to say a lot, because I’m a professional,” the 31-year-old added.

“As a kid growing up, I always wanted to be an athlete. I wanted to be successful. That has been my goal. If people are not specifically taking any type of negative action or not taking any type of steps to affect the political situation, they should not be punished. 

“They are not related to that. They are in the sports game. They are not related to politics. Sports and politics have [always] been separated. Historically, it has been that way; I think it should stay that way,” he stressed.

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