Trainer Marc Ramsay is no fan of the seemingly well-intentioned but, in his view, wrongheaded rash of punitive measures enacted recently by boxing’s major sanctioning bodies.

In a joint statement, the WBO, WBC, WBA and IBF announced that they will not put their imprimatur on any title and non-title bouts in Russia until its president, Vladimir Putin, declares an end to the unprovoked military invasion of Ukraine, which has claimed hundreds of innocent Ukrainian lives. In addition, the organizations stated they will not allow boxers who live in either Russia or Belarus to compete for titles. (Belarus is supporting Russia in the invasion).

The WBA has ratified even more stringent penalties by removing Russian and Belarusian boxers from their rankings, a move it said it will review on a month-to-month basis. The WBA also bars Russian fighters from entering the ring with the Russian flag, and said it reserves the right to ban any WBA-ranked fighter who expresses support for the war.  

Ramsay, the veteran Canadian trainer who also oversees the promotional company Eye of the Tiger Management, has a slew of fighters under his wing who have been affected – or could be affected – by the new rules. In addition to WBC/IBF light heavyweight titlist Artur Beterbiev, Ramsay also trains highly regarded heavyweight Arslanbek Makhmudov, both of whom are Russian. Beterbiev is reportedly set to face WBO titlist Joe Smith Jr. in a light heavyweight unification in the summer in New York City.

While it appears that champions who are Russian but live elsewhere, like the Montreal-based Beterbiev, will not be affected by the implementation of these new edicts, the less credentialed do not seem to be in the same position. According to Le Journal de Montreal, Makhmudov (14-0, 14 KOs) would be at risk of losing his position in the rankings of the WBO and the WBA, as well as the regional title he had under the latter organization. Makhmudov, who also resides in Montreal, is coming off a sixth-round stoppage of Polish veteran Mariusz Wach last month.

“For all of us who work hard and for those like [EOTTM founder] Camille [Estephan] who invest large sums of money into the careers of these boxers, it’s disappointing,” Ramsay told Le Journal de Montreal. “Everything that has happened so far goes beyond the framework of this sport.”

Ramsay said he understands the moral imperative of supporting Ukraine’s resistance against Russia, but he thinks these new measures by the sanctioning bodies are ultimately misguided and overwhelmingly hurtful toward the boxers. For one, Ramsay thinks it is simply unrealistic to expect that the decisions of the boxing world, a decidedly niche sport, will have an impact on geopolitical matters of the utmost importance.

“We must try to put pressure on the Russian regime in any manner possible,” Ramsay said. “All methods are justified. I understand this.

"At the same time, I’m very skeptical. Does anyone think that suspending professional athletes is going to have an actual influence on the political decisions made by Vladimir Putin? At the moment, we’re suffering from the consequences and there’s nothing we can do.”

Although he is not Russian, the Colombian-born, Montreal-based heavyweight Oscar Rivas, another Ramsay client, could potentially find himself affected by the new rules as well. Rivas (28-1, 19 KOs), who owns the WBC’s Bridgerweight title, is scheduled to defend his belt against Russia’s Evgeny Romanov in June, but Ramsay isn’t so sure what will happen.

“When you’re the champion of the world, you have to face the music,” Ramsay said. “Whether it’s Romanov or someone else, we’re going to prepare accordingly.”