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Russian champion Dmitry Bivol sends message to Ukrainian boxers who have joined the fight

Metro logo Metro 03/03/2022 Tony Mogan
Russian champion Bivol fears for family and friends (Picture: Getty) © Provided by Metro Russian champion Bivol fears for family and friends (Picture: Getty)

Russian boxer Dmitry Bivol wishes ‘only for peace’ following Russia’s invasion of the Ukraine and believes the likes of Oleksandr Usyk and Vasiliy Lomachenko must do ‘what they have to do’ in the fight.

WBA light-heavyweight champion Bivol, undefeated in 19 professional fights, will take on pound-for-pound king Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez in May with the Mexican moving up in weight class in pursuit of more glory.

Following confirmation of their fight last week, the two came together at a press conference in San Diego on Wednesday with the growing crisis in Ukraine inevitably became a talking point.

Bivol was born in Tokmak, Kyrgyzstan, but has been a long-time resident of St Petersburg and is a Russian citizen. The 31-year-old has not expressed his support for Russian president Vladimir Putin with his immediate concern for friends and family in both Russia and Ukraine.

For the latest updates on the Russia-Ukraine war, visit our live blog: Russia-Ukraine live

‘I have a lot of friends in Ukraine,’ Bivol said. ‘I have a lot of friends in Russia. My family is in Russia.’

Bivol fights world no1 Canelo on 7 April (Picture: Getty) © Provided by Metro Bivol fights world no1 Canelo on 7 April (Picture: Getty)

Bivol added he has ‘a lot of friends everywhere’ and wishes them ‘only peace and only the best.’

‘It’s really sad for me,’ he said. ‘Every day I wake up and read the news and I hope it will stop.’

Heavyweight world champion Usyk and three-weight world champion Lomachenko have both returned to their homeland of Ukraine to take up arms following the invasion.

Both have joined territorial defence battalions, pictured in military gear and carrying rifles this week with Usyk declaring he is ready to ‘take a life’ in order to defend his family and his country.

Lomachenko and Usyk have both joined defence forces. © Provided by Metro Lomachenko and Usyk have both joined defence forces.

Asked about the involvement of Ukrainian fighters in the conflict, Bivol told FightHype: ‘It is hard to comment on something related to people defending their home country.

‘As athletes, I respect them a lot, they are some of the best in the world and as people, I respect them a lot.

‘But their choices and the things that they do, it is very individual. I make my own choices, they make their own choices. They have to do what they do.’

Bivol and Canelo will still fight this spring despite the WBA, along with the three other major governing bodies in the IBF, WBC and WBO, announcing a series of sanctions this week.

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.

A further ruling states: ‘Russian and Belarusian officials will also be banned from participating in world and/or regional championship fights, according to a resolution from the WBA Executive Committee,’ suggesting Bivol vs Canelo could be fought as a non-title contest.

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