Mauricio Sulaiman, President of the World Boxing Council, closed the door to an immediate undisputed fight between their light heavyweight champion, Artur Beterbiev, and follow unbeaten compatriot Dmitry Bivol.
Beterbiev retained the WBC, IBF, WBO titles last weekend in London, with a stoppage win over Anthony Yarde. Bivol saw action in November, when he outboxed Gilberto Ramirez over twelve rounds to retain the WBA strap.
Beterbiev would like to face Bivol in his next ring outing.
However, the WBC is firm on their decision to preclude Russian and Belarusian boxers from fighting for any of their titles, which makes Bivol ineligible. The WBC refuses to change their position until Russia ends their military conflict with Ukraine.
Beterbiev is not affected by the WBC's decision, because he resides in Canada and fights with a Canadian passport.
The WBC would allow Bivol to file a request for an exemption.
“Bivol has not approached the WBC (to ask for an exemption)," Sulaiman told reporters and Izquierdazo. “At our last Convention, we were very clear about our position in relation to fighters from Russia and Belarus. And that is the case with Bivol."
Sulaiman clarified that Beterbiev’s next fight must be a mandatory defense against Callum Smith, who had previously held a world title at super middleweight.
“At this moment, I insist, there has not been a petition (from Bivol’s side)," Sulaiman emphasized. “For us, the mandatory fight is next (between Beterbiev and Smith)”.
He expressed his enthusiasm about a fight between Beterbiev and Smith, since he considers Beterbiev to be a top pound-for-pound fighter.
“Yes, definitely (he is pound-for-pound)”, Sulaiman said. “Beterbiev, 19 wins, 19 KOs, three belts, very solid, very strong. It's a hard fight, among the best right now in boxing. Callum Smith is a marvelous fighter. His only loss was a unanimous decision with Canelo. So, the mandatory fight between Beterbiev and Smith will be very important”.
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