Alberto Puello was expecting to make his U.S. debut later this week and in the biggest fight of his career.
The silver lining is that his training camp doesn’t go to waste.
The unbeaten Dominican will defend his WBA “interim” junior welterweight title as planned, though with a significant change in the opponent, date and location. Puello (18-0, 10KOs) will face Mexicali’s Jesus Antonio Rubio (13-3-1, 7KOs) this Wednesday at Pabellon de Volleyball in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic.
The bout came about on short notice following the fallout from the planned heavyweight trilogy bout between lineal/WBC champion Tyson Fury and former champ Deontay Wilder. Their bout was due to headline a July 24 Pay-Per-View event at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, only for Fury to test positive for COVID which forced a cancellation.
Puello–who trains in Las Vegas—was scheduled to face former two-division titlist Rances Barthelemy on the undercard preceding the PPV portion.
“We had such a great training camp, really my best one ever,” Puello stated upon touching down in Santo Domingo on Monday.
As cliché as the claim can sound, it rings true in this case as the unbeaten 26-year-old southpaw was due to face his toughest test to date. It would have represented his first fight in the United States, with that place in place for nearly a year only for the matchup to suffer numerous postponements.
The date with Barthelemy is once again on hold, though Puello wasn’t interested in waiting until October to get back in the ring. He has fought just once since the pandemic, scoring a sixth-round stoppage of Cristian Coria in his first title defense last December in Santo Domingo. It came in lieu of facing Barthelemy last September live on Fox from Microsoft Theater in Los Angeles, with the fight to be dealt its first postponement when Puello’s travel visa status disallowed him to make the trip in time.
Puello will once again keep it home while waiting for the Barthelemy fight to resurface. Rubio (13-3-1, 7KOs) is a considerable underdog and has been stopped twice, though he enters as the far more active fighter. The interim title shot will mark his third bout of 2021, coming off of a points win over American fringe contender Sonny Fredrickson this past May.
The bout is Julio’s first for any version of a major title, with Puello treating the bout like any other on this stage.
“I’m not looking for a knockout,” vows the defending titlist. “But I know I have heavy hands and it could come when (Rubio) least expects it.”
The bout will air live on the YouTube channel of event promoter Shuan Boxing.
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox