Russian boxer David Avanesyan and MMA heavyweight Alexander Volkov headline separate fight nights in London

By Coral BarryBBC Sport
David Avanesyan
David Avanesyan was born in Russia but holds a boxing licence in Serbia

Russian fighters David Avanesyan and Alexander Volkov will headline two fight nights this weekend in London despite the ongoing war in Ukraine.

Boxer Avanesyan defends his European welterweight title at Wembley Arena, while MMA fighter Volkov headlines alongside Englishman Tom Aspinall at UFC London.

Sporting bodies across the world have moved to impose bans on Russian athletes, but no such roadblocks have been created in combat sports in the UK.

Heavyweight fighter Volkov, 33, is one of four Russian fighters currently scheduled to appear on the UFC card at the O2 Arena.

Last week the British Boxing Board of Control banned Russian and Belarussian boxers who hold licences in their native countries from fighting in the UK, but that allows fighters such as Avanesyan to compete as he holds a boxing licence in Serbia.

Queensberry Promotions considered removing 33 year-old Avanesyan from the card but decided against it after speaking with the fighter last Friday.

Avanesyan's family is originally from Armenia and the welterweight plans to promote peace between Ukraine and Russia on fight night.

Frank Warren is promoting Avanesyan's fight against Finland's Oskari Metz.

Warren told BBC Sport: "I've told David [Avanesyan] the ring will be dressed in yellow and blue [in support of Ukraine] and he said he's putting on his shorts a dove of peace, so we're happy."

Alexander Volkov and Tom Aspinall
Alexander Volkov (right) fights Englishman Tom Aspinall in the main event of UFC London

The UFC have resisted calls for Volkov and his fellow Russians to be pulled from UFC London, but had alternative opponents in place amid concerns the fighters may not be allowed to enter the UK.

Volkov landed in London last week and the UFC have a potential replacement in London should he be a late removal from the card.

"It was difficult to be honest," Aspinall said of the uncertainty of the situation.

"There's still a back-up in place who is here [in London]. Just in case anything changes last minute. He is here ready to go."

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