Mauricio Sulaiman has been in London this week as part of the announcement of the Saudi Arabia superfight between light heavyweight champions Artur Beterbiev and Dmitrii Bivol, but the WBC president refused to talk politics. 

The WBC has had a close relationship with Ukraine over the years, supporting Vitali Klitschko through his heavyweight championship career and hosting their annual convention in Kiev in 2018.

After Russia invaded Ukraine in February 2022, and Russia faced international sanctions, Sulaiman declared that the WBC would not support a fight involving WBA champion Bivol.

“That is because of our position with Russia,” Sulaiman said. “[The] WBC would not accept that fight.”

Sulaiman was asked in London at Monday’s press conference what had changed for Bivol to now have the opportunity to take part in a unification fight, and challenge WBC, WBO and IBF champion Beterbiev.

“I’m not going to talk about anything other than boxing,” Sulaiman told BoxingScene. “I’m just happy and proud to be part of this fight. It’s a fight the world wants to see, a fight the world demands, a fight that both fighters deserve and the winner will be [the] undisputed world champion.”

Does this mean the WBC will be sanctioning fights in Russia now, moving forwards?

“Not at this moment,” Sulaiman added. “We are in the whole pro-peace, not only Russia and Ukraine, but the whole world, leading in a delicate time.” 

Has the WBC president spoken to Bivol since he made his initial stance?

“Yes, I spoke to him in Riyadh last year, we had a very nice conversation,” replied Sulaiman. 

Did they talk global affairs and about what had happened?

“Not politics,” Sulaiman added. “He’s a fighter, he’s a human being, he’s a father, we had a good conversation, his promoter Vadim [Kornilov], and I’m just happy for him and for [Artur] Beterbiev.”

So now the WBC will definitely be on the line in Saudi Arabia? 


Sulaiman admitted he was excited for the fight, which has been on the wishlist of boxing fans for several years.

“I’m very, very excited, this is a new era of boxing,” Sulaiman continued. “His Excellency Turki [Alalshikh] has come in a massive way with his innovation, innovative plans, and he’s making a big, real change for the betterment of the sport. [This is] a sensational, great fight – we’ll see which style prevails, the technique [Bivol] or the power and the aggressiveness [Beterbiev], it’s going to be a sensational night.”

Sulaiman held a promoter summit in Las Vegas in January, imploring many of boxing’s power brokers to work together. Ultimately, money is doing a better job of tightening friendships and making new ones than the overall desire to improve the sport, but Sulaiman admits money has always talked loudest in boxing, and he was pleased to see Frank Warren and Eddie Hearn share the Riyadh undercard with their 5x5 bill on June 1, beneath the light heavyweight main event.    

“Well, like in your home, like in my house, in our business, everything, the way of making things, Don King and Bob Arum were arch-rivals, but whenever there was a fight that made sense financially, attractive, they were the best of friends,” Sulaiman said. “Money is a big factor, fighters fight for money, and to have the means to make these big fights, I believe it’s a great example to have rival promoters compete in the ring with their best talent and then move on.”