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Boxing and the Russia vs Ukraine Moral Dilemma

Boxing and the Russia vs Ukraine Moral Dilemma. Would we ever see Usyk vs Makhmudov?
Boxing and the Russia vs Ukraine Moral Dilemma. Would we ever see Usyk vs Makhmudov?
Posted: 23-04-2022
Author: Andy Farr

Professional boxing has and always will have its detractors, it is the very nature of boxing that leaves it open to debate. Punching your opponent as hard and as many times as possible can be hard to argue as a sport.

Boxing's detractors also believe the sport has been open to corruption during its history. Let's be honest though, what sport has avoided some sort of scandal?

In a world where discrimination has plagued the lives of so many, boxing has been a shining light in equality for anyone from anywhere that has wanted to pursue our beloved pastime.

So now that Vladimir Putin has Invaded Ukraine and has risked dragging the world into a third world war, should the west cut all ties with Russia until it ceases its deadly attack on Ukraine? And if so, shouldn't the world of sports completely cut its ties with Russian athletes and managers?

If Russia is to be banned from competing at the 2024 Olympic games in Paris then shouldn't we in the West also stop paying Russian sportsmen and women for their services?

Just as the world has become reliant on Russian gas, boxers from Russia, Ukraine, and other parts of Eastern Europe have become a staple part of our sport, but should we be making a stand against Russia by banning Russian boxers from promoting their country and its values through our high profile media platforms? Should we really be perpetuating Russian values by allowing the likes of Dimitry Bivol to share centre stage in one of boxing's most high profile events of 2022 when he faces Mexican superstar Canelo Alvarez at The T-Mobile Arena on the 7th of May?

Saul Alvarez vs Dimitry Bivol for the WBA World Light heavyweight Title
Russia's WBA World Light heavyweight champion Dimitry Bivol fights Saul Alvarez on May 7th

As boxing fans, many of us will have become supporters of some great Russian boxers since the USSR was disbanded in 1991. Kostya Tszyu was a fan favourite due to his exciting style and one-punch knockout power, Sergey Kovalev, was another that thrilled us with his high knockout ratio, and who can forget "The Beast from the East", Nikolai Valuev, the tallest and heaviest world champion in boxing history. Would it be fair to stop the current crop of Russian boxers from plying their trade across America and Europe?

The question seems to be, will boxing put morals above money? History tells us not.

Nikolai Valuev, the tallest and heaviest world champion in boxing history
Nikolai Valuev, the tallest and heaviest world champion in boxing history

Seeing the human suffering taking place in Ukraine should spur us all on to support the Ukrainian people in any way we can. But to make Putin suffer to the degree that he will reassess his actions, money as always will be the deciding factor.

Not all Russians support Putin. it's just that to say so Inside Russia can be a deadly mistake. Even asking the many Russian professional boxers across the world to stand up and denounce Putin's warmongering could lead to catastrophic consequences for them or their families in Russia. There is no easy answer, but to allow things to carry on as they are just because we want to see Canelo take on Bivol and Artur Beterbiev, the WBC and IBF World Light-heavyweight champion also so seems very wrong.