Josh Taylor has yet to indicate whether he will remain at junior welterweight or embark on a welterweight campaign.
At least one sanctioning body is banking on the reigning undisputed champion sticking around at 140 for at least one more fight.
The World Boxing Association (WBA) has called a purse bid hearing for its previously ordered title fight between Scotland’s Taylor (19-0, 13KOs) and Dominican Republic’s Alberto Puello (20-0, 10KOs). The session is set to take place April 22 via Zoom conference call, the sanctioning body announced Monday overnight.
“The negotiation period between [Taylor and Puello] expired without reaching an agreement and that is why the bidding was ordered under the terms indicated in the WBA rules,” Carlos Chavez, chairman of the WBA Championship Committee revealed in an open letter. “This Monday, the communication was sent to the parties with all the conditions of the bidding.”
Taylor was represented in talks by Top Rank and managerial company MTK Global. Puello is promoted by Belgica Pena’s Shuan Boxing, the leading promotional outfit in the Dominican Republic.
The purse bid hearing will be open to all WBA-registered promoters, who will be required to pay a participation fee. The winning bid must exceed the $200,000 minimum established for the fight, with the final amount to be split 55/45 in favor of Taylor.
The high purse split is due to Puello having previously served as an interim titlist, retaining those benefits despite the belt being removed from circulation last August. Puello has been owed a title shot for nearly a year, having openly campaigned to face Taylor and then-WBA ‘World’ junior welterweight titlist Gervonta ‘Tank’ Davis (26-0, 24KOs), who vacated the belt last December.
Taylor is coming off a WBO mandatory title defense, barely outpointing England’s Jack Catterall (26-1, 13KOs) in a highly questionable, split decision victory February 26 in Glasgow, Scotland. The win was his first since becoming undisputed champion following a twelve-round, unanimous decision over Jose Ramirez in their clash of unbeaten, unified titlists last May 22 at Virgin Hotels Las Vegas.
Overall, Taylor has made four successful defenses of at least one major title dating back to his May 2019 win over Ivan Baranchyk to claim the IBF strap. The Scottish southpaw added the WBA title in a points win over Regis Prograis in the October 2019 World Boxing Super Series junior welterweight tournament final, followed by a first-round knockout of Thailand’s Apinun Khongsong in an IBF mandatory title defense and the win over Ramirez to add the WBC/WBO belts to his collection.
Puello was one of several fighters affected by the WBA’s forced decision to remove its interim titles from existence last August. The 27-year-old southpaw previously held the WBA interim junior welterweight title since July 2019, having made two defenses while waiting out major fights with either Taylor or for the WBA ‘World’ title previously held Davis and Mario Barrios before him.
The revamped policy rolled out by the WBA called for a number of title consolidation bouts, along with stripped interim titlists moving into the mandatory challenger slot in divisions where one was available. Puello fell into the latter, one month after having defended his title in a twelve-round shutout of Jesus Antonio Rubio last July.
The removal of interim titles was well received by the media, though not the many promoters, managers and fighters who shelled out thousands of dollars in sanctioning fees to win such belts. Pena was among the most vocal, particularly in support of her own fighters affected the decision including Puello and precocious strawweight Erick ‘Mini PacMan’ Rosa.
Pena’s demands were met in part by the WBA, who promised that Puello would be next in line for a shot at the WBA title—whether versus Taylor or in a vacant title fight.
For now, Taylor-Puello is the advertised title fight as it relates to WBA-registered promoters interested in placing a bid. A deal can be reached any time before the purse bid, though one has yet to come a negotiation period that began March 9.
Should Taylor ultimately choose to give up the belt—which would be his only move absent going forward with the ordered fight—Puello will be ordered to face the next highest-ranked available challenger for the vacant title.
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox