Dmitry Bivol has urged Vitaly and Wladimir Klitschko not to mix sport and politics after the Ukrainians urged boxing authorities to ban him and other Russians from fighting.
Bivol is in action against Mexican superstar Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez in one of the biggest fights of the year on Saturday, putting is WBA light-heavyweight title on the line against the pound-for-pound no1 in Las Vegas.
Russia has been hit with worldwide sanctions since the invasion of Ukraine in February with Russian sport greatly impacted as a result.
Among the many sanctions, the country has been barred from competing in this summer’s women’s Euro 2022, while Russian clubs will also be banned from Uefa competitions next season. Players from Russian and Belarus have also been barred from competing at Wimbledon this year.
In boxing, governing bodies have refused to sanction title bouts in Russia but Bivol is free to defend his title in the US this weekend – with the Klitschko brothers condemning that decision in March.
Asked if Bivol should be allowed to fight Canelo, Wladimir Klitschko – who has remained in Kyiv to fight against Russia alongside his brother – told BBC Radio 5 Live: ‘Absolutely not.
‘Every sanction, and it’s nothing against the personality or athletes, it’s about the politics of Russia.
‘Every Russian representative in this case needs to be sanctioned, because this way we show to Russia that the world is against this senseless war and that there’s no good in this war.’
Responding to those comments, Bivol told IFL TV this week: ‘All his career I support him, I liked how he was fighting and of course I was glad when he won.
‘He is [a] sportsman, he should know sports and politics is different. He was [an] athlete. Now he is politician. It is sad that wants to shake it up and mix sport and politics.’
Bivol was born in Tokmak, Kyrgyzstan, but has been a long-time resident of St Petersburg and is a Russian citizen.
In rules outlined by the WBA in March, Russian and Belarusian boxers will not be allowed to enter the ring with their flag present, the national anthem is not allowed to be played and the boxers’ country won’t be named.
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