The next career decision made by Gervonta Davis will set the tone for several boxers spanning three weight divisions.
Alberto Puello is among those waiting to see where the undefeated knockout artist next lands. Davis was issued a deadline of August 27 inform the World Boxing Association (WBA) at which division he plans to next fight. From there, the sanctioning body would evaluate next steps for the other two belts currently in his possession.
Baltimore’s Davis (25-0, 24KOs) currently holds the WBA “Super” junior lightweight title and secondary versions of WBA belts at lightweight and junior welterweight. The recent movement by the Panama City-headquartered sanctioning body should result in at least two of the titles being eliminated, although Puello’s team has a simpler solution on how to resolve matters at least in the junior welterweight divison.
“We hope that Alberto Puello's fight against the WBA “World” champion [at junior welterweight], which in this case is Gervonta Davis, will also be ordered,” Belgica Pena, Puello’s promoter and head of Shuan Boxing told BoxingScene.com.
Davis claimed the WBA “World” junior welterweight belt following an eleventh-round knockout of Mario Barrios this past June at State Farm Arena in Atlanta. The win came eight months after regaining the WBA “Super” 130-pound title in a sixth-round knockout of Leo Santa Cruz last Halloween, having given up the belt prior to challenging for and winning the vacant WBA “World” lightweight title in a twelfth-round knockout of Yuriorkis Gamboa in December 2019, also in Atlanta.
BoxingScene.com has since learned that the WBA has fielded a request from Davis and Mayweather Promotions requesting a one-week extension before making his decision. Industry speculation suggests he will next compete at lightweight, although any such decision has not been finalized as this goes to publish.
Meanwhiile, fighters such as Puello (19-0, 10KOs) are forced to play the waiting game and with less leverage than was the case at the beginning of the week.
Puello was among the several WBA interim titlists to lose such status following the sanctioning body’s ruling earlier this week to phase out those belts. Those who previously held the belts have—for the most part—been inserted as the mandatory challenger in their respective weight divisions.
As much is the case for Puello, a 27-year-old Dominican southpaw who lives and trains in Las Vegas. Two defenses came of his reign dating back to a twelve-round, decision win over Cristian Rafael Coria in July 2019. Puello was due to face former two-division titlist Rances Barthelemy this past July 24 at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, only for the event to get postponed when lineal heavyweight champion Tyson Fury (30-0-1, 21KOs)—who was due to face Deontay Wilder (42-1-1, 41KOs)—tested positive for Covid and had to withdraw.
Puello was able to squeeze in a title defense, earning a twelve-round decision win over Jesus Antonio Rubio on July 21 in Santo Dominigo, Dominican Republic. The fight with Barthelemy is listed as part of the rescheduled Fury-Wilder III card which will now take place October 9.
However, the stakes are less significant than would have been the case in July, due to the WBA’s recent moves. Shuan Boxing also promotes Erick Rosa, who won the WBA “interim” strawweight title on the same July 21 show where Puello defended his 140-pound title but who is now ordered to face WBA “World” titlist Vic Saludar as the mandatory challenger.
“We do not agree with our titles being taken away,” notes Pena. “We paid various world title sanctioning fees.”
Based on Davis’ decision, Puello-Barthelemy—should the fight move forward—could wind up becoming a title eliminator. If so, the winner would next face undisputed junior welterweight champion Josh Taylor, who holds the WBA “Super” title in addition to the WBC/IBF/WBO belts and lineal crown.
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox