Former heavyweight champion Wladimir Klitschko has condemned collaborations that ultimately see Russian fighters reinstated in the WBA rankings.
The World Boxing Association, participating in its 100-year Convention, announced a link-up with the IBA led by a Russian President.
They also allowed several boxers who supported the Russian war into the fold with separate backing for a promotional company.
As Ukraine continually undergoes missile attacks, Klitschko says boxing needs to take a long hard look at how it is currently run.
“Boxing needs more transparency, not more greed,” said Klitschko. “The collaboration between WBA and IBA [International Boxing Association, formerly AIBA] is a stain on the coat of the noble art.
— Klitschko (@Klitschko) December 15, 2022
“The decision to reinstate Russian and Belarusian boxers is an indelible moral fault. It is no coincidence that the IOC [International Olympic Committee] persists in excluding boxing from the 2028 Olympic Games. Boxing needs one big clean-up.”
A couple of days prior, the WBA had aired reasoning for why Russian boxers would no longer be excluded.
“The World Boxing Association (WBA), through its Championships Committee and Ratings Committee, issued a statement in which it decided to reinstate Russian and Belarusian boxers to their place in the rankings,” they said.
“The athletes from this country are not soldiers or part of the government. Therefore, they have nothing to do with the war against Ukraine.
“However, it was determined that any fighter who speaks out in favor of the war or is involved in it will be removed immediately.”
Dangerous boxing precedent
The stipulation that boxers can compete for Russia if they don’t mention the war is undoubtedly one that divides opinions. If a fighter doesn’t share his true beliefs, whether he backs the war or not, the WBA will not punish that athlete with suspension.
The move comes in the same week the WBA invited YouTuber Jake Paul to the seminar. They gave him a championship belt and allowed him to advise on the sport despite never fighting a professional boxer.
Speculation about the WBA will rank Paul has since followed, with the notion widely panned by true boxing figures and fans.
The problem comes with rating someone who doesn’t deserve it based on their social media fanbase. In addition, it sets a dangerous precedent.
Those boxers who work their way up and earn a place could ultimately miss out on their place due to influencers having deeper pockets and a more extensive reach in the future.