Mauricio Sulaiman, President of the World Boxing Council, has revealed that his organization refused to sanction a potential undisputed fight between unbeaten light heavyweight champions Artur Beterbiev and Dmitry Bivol.
Beterbiev holds the WBC, IBF and WBO titles, while Bivol is the WBA champion.
While both champions are Russian, Beterbiev has lived in Canada for several years. Bivol on the other hand is still a Russian national.
The WBC has taken a hard line against Russian athletes - because of Russia's ongoing military conflict with Ukraine.
“The WBC can not sanction a fight with Bivol in it," Sulaiman told Izquierdazo. “That is because of our position with Russia [and the war with Ukraine]. WBC would not accept that fight."
The camps for both champions had tried to reach an agreement earlier this year.
Bivol and his manager, Vadim Kornilov, would later disclose that the offer was not good enough.
In the event that Bivol and Beterbiev reach an agreement for a future fight, the WBC title will not be at stake.
“Exactly [they would fight without the WBC belt]," Sulaiman explained. “As of today, that is the position of the WBC [about that fight]. As long as there is no boxing in Ukraine, we will not accept boxing in Russia. At least, not sanctioned by the WBC."
Sulaiman insisted that Beterbiev must go through with his mandatory fight.
“At this moment, [our ruling is] that Beterbiev has to fight with his WBC mandatory rival, Callum Smith," Sulaiman said.
As far as Bivol, he has several options in front of him.
Last year, his status in the sport exploded when he shocked the sport with a dominant twelve round decision win over Mexican superstar Saul 'Canelo' Alvarez. He followed that up with another dominating win - this time over mandatory challenger Gilberto Ramirez.
Should Canelo win in May, Bivol may face him in a September rematch.