Boxing's governing organizations won't sanction any title bouts in Russia due to invasion of Ukraine

The four governing organizations responsible for overseeing boxing title matchups around the world -- the WBC, WBA, IBF and WBO -- announced in a joint statement that they won't sanction any such bouts in Russia because of the invasion of Ukraine.

Currently, two Russians hold major titles. Dmitry Bivol, ESPN's No. 2 light heavyweight, defended his title successfully against Umar Salamov in December in Yekaterinburg, Russia. Bivol, a resident of Saint Petersburg, Russia, fights boxing's top star, Canelo Alvarez, on May 7.

The other Russian champion is Artur Beterbiev, who holds two light heavyweight titles. He's expected to meet Joe Smith Jr. in June in New York.

But this ruling also affects boxers competing for minor titles and title eliminators. A card scheduled for March 26 in Ekaterinburg, Russia, featuring ESPN's No. 8 junior middleweight, Magomed Kurbanov, against former champion Patrick Teixeira, would be impacted if the edict isn't lifted.

One week ago in Russia, Zaur Abdullaev scored a 12th-round KO of Jorge Linares in a fight for a minor lightweight title streamed on ESPN+.

Ukraine's health minister said in a Facebook post Saturday morning that 198 Ukrainians have died since the attack was launched Thursday. The United Nations said the death toll includes 64 civilians.

Former heavyweight champion Vitali Klitschko, the mayor of Ukraine's capital, Kyiv, said Thursday that he was taking up arms to defend his country. His brother, fellow Hall of Fame boxer Wladimir Klitschko, enlisted in Ukraine's reserve army earlier this month in anticipation of the attack.

Current unified heavyweight champion Oleksandr Usyk returned to Ukraine from England on Thursday to be with his family. He is set to meet Anthony Joshua in a rematch that could take place in May or June. He often trains in Ukraine but his promoter, Alex Krassyuk, told the Daily Mail he has "no idea" where Usyk will prepare for the title fight.