The World Boxing Council has announced that it was take steps to remove all Russian and Belarusian fighters from its rankings, ruling out any citizen competing for their titles.
The ruling follows a joint statement earlier this year made by the four major bodies – WBC, WBA, IBF and WBO – in which they committed to not sanctioning bouts in the two countries in response to the invasion of Ukraine.
The conflict has had huge ramifications in the sport. Ukrainian fighters like Oleksandr Usyk and Vasiliy Lomachenko have been personally affected, and only recently returned to the ring to resume their careers. Two of the most recognisable heavyweights in history are on the front line. Brothers Vitali and Wladimir Klitschko became the faces of their country’s defence as the world watched on in horror. Vitaly is the mayor of Kiev, Ukraine’s capital city.
WBC President, Mauricio Sulaiman, announced the decision at the sanctioning body’s 60th Annual Convention.
“All fighters from Russia and Belarus are being removed from the WBC rankings.”
“The WBC will not sanction any fights in those two countries and no national citizen from those two countries can compete for a WBC championship title.”
“I wish to express our deep regret for the athletes, for the promoters, for the members of the boxing industry from Russia and Belarus who will suffer with these consequences of the actions outside the ring.”
“The WBC believes in peace, believes in fair play, and believes human dignity.”
The WBC’s states that ‘any specific cases of nationals of either of those countries permanently residing in other countries, are citizens of other countries or are refugees, who have publicly rejected Russia’s actions’ will have the right to petition for the rulers to reconsider.
Notable exceptions are expected to include the likes of Artur Beterbiev, who, despite representing Russia in the Olympics, resides in Canada. He currently holds the WBC Light Heavyweight title, with a number of high profile fights in the works.