“This kid has the opportunity of a lifetime, and he will use it for himself, no matter what happens to his homeland.”
Dmitry Bivol’s trainer Joel Diaz, a Russian who will defend the WBA light heavyweight title by defeating Mexican superstar Saul “Canello” Alvarez in Las Vegas on May 7, said.
About 6,000 miles east of Las Vegas, Kyiv Mayor Vitali Klitschko and brother Vladimir continue to defend the Ukrainian capital from their own military aggression.
Former heavyweight champion Klitschkos sent a clear request to World Sports in March to ban all Russian fighters from competing.
“In this case, all Russian representatives should be sanctioned,” Vladimir told BBC Radio 5 Live.
Vladimir, who reigned as the champion for nearly a decade, criticized the match between the WBA undefeated B-ball and Mexico’s Alvarez.
He said, “This boxer [Bivol] It is forbidden to fight in America, just as all Russian athletes are banned from international competitions.”
The World Management Organization for boxing, such as the WBC, WBO and IBF, responded to the Russian War in a joint statement promising to block “championship fights involving boxers from Russia and Belarus”. Belarus is a close ally of Russia.
The WBA, a fourth governing body that would make a significant profit by approving Bivol’s defense of the light heavyweight championship, did not receive a similar penalty.
The WBA instead released a “peace-seeking” nine-item plan, which ultimately gives Bivol a favorable payday but does not allow him to use the Russian flag, Russian national anthem, or speak in favor of war. .
But is it right for the WBA to allow a champion who has called for peace between Russia and Ukraine to defend his title?
Bivol’s US-based trainer Diaz sympathizes with the Klitschko brothers, but says his world champion apprentice deserves a chance to make history.
“I think they [Ukraine] They’re going through some really tough moments and I don’t blame them for that [Russian athletes should be banned]. As a human being, I understand the suffering families and there are many problems in Ukraine.
“Bivol has nothing to do with politics, he has nothing to do with his country where he has trouble with other countries. He is just doing what he has been doing all his life. Ready to fight, ready to perform. And his life greatest chance.
“The only thing I can say is that it’s not the players’ fault. They’re just working to feed their families. Boxers train boxing. That’s what they do. I don’t think players should be blamed for political issues. . Relating sports to politics is a problem.”
‘He is focused on his sport, his family and his work’
However, sports and politics have long converged.
Throughout history, sports have transcended winning and losing trophies, medals, and belts, sometimes becoming power instead of political scoring and protests.
In the 1930s, the Nazis declared victory over American Joe Lewis by German heavyweight Max Schmeling as evidence of white supremacy. Incidentally, in a rematch two years later, Louis took a round to overpower Schmeling and this particular strain of Nazi propaganda.
In 1968, US medalists Tommie Smith and John Carlos raised their fists and helped spread the message of black equality and citizenship during the Olympic Games in Mexico.
In 2016, NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick knelt to protest racist violence and created a global symbol for anti-racism.
Would it be a symbolic victory for Russia and its invading forces if Kyrgyzstan-born but Russian passport champion Bivol had a devastating shock and knocked out world super-middleweight champion Alvarez?
Diaz says the outcome of the contest will no longer be meaningful.
“In the end, if he beats Canelo and wins, that victory is for him, his team and his family.”
“If he beats Canelo and wins, does he support his country? I’m not sure. All I can say is that this is the biggest fight of his life. He has a chance to make history by beating the best pound-for-four. The world’s pound fighter now.
“Obviously you represent your country in every fight. But if Bivol knows what’s going on and if he agrees and supports Russia’s situation, then obviously he’s doing it wrong. But he’s not interested in any of that. No. He focuses only on his sport, his family and his work.
“He spent a lot of money on his best sparring partners who pay $500 a day at camp. They invest a lot of money in training, rentals, food and vitamins. I did. .
“If he misses a chance [against Alvarez]Of course, economically he will lose the opportunity to take home a good payday. It affects him and affects his family. Due to the fact that his country has problems, he may never get a chance again. Canelo might say it, but I don’t want to fight him anymore.
“No matter what you say, it’s double-edged. You can take it badly because you’re from there. [Ukraine]. But there are others who will say Diaz is right.”