Alberto Puello has patiently waited through an interim title reign and his current placement as mandatory challenger to receive his overdue title shot.
The lack of response from undisputed junior welterweight champion Josh Taylor is the one neglected deadline where the unbeaten contender and his team draw the line.
A purse bid hearing won by TGB Promotions to secure the rights to the Taylor-Puello WBA mandatory title fight came with a 20-day deadline to secure final contracts, which expires Thursday. Puello’s side has complied with all terms but now await next steps as Scotland’s Taylor (19-0, 13KOs) has failed to commit to his ordered title defense.
“The term has already expired and our team delivered everything required,” Belgica Pena, Puello’s promoter and head of Shuan Boxing, told BoxingScene.com. “Taylor’s team never responded to the call.
“According to WBA rules, what corresponds is that they strip him of the title.”
Efforts by BoxingScene.com to contact WBA representatives seeking clarification or comment went unreturned as this goes to publish. BoxingScene.com has learned, however, that Taylor—who last fought in a twelve-round split decision win over England’s Jack Catterall on February 26—will keep the title until the WBA officially declares the belt vacant. Taylor will remain the lineal/WBC/IBF/WBO champ even under that scenario.
TGB Promotions’ Tom Brown was the lone bidder for the April 22 purse bid hearing conducted by the WBA, placing the minimum acceptable $200,000 bid to serve as promoter of record for the ordered fight. Because of Puello’s former status as an interim titleholder—with the belts removed from circulation last August—the unbeaten Dominican was entitled to 45 percent ($90,000) of the purse bid, with Taylor due $110,000 (55%) as the defending champ.
It was strongly speculated at the time that Taylor would ultimately vacate at least his WBA belt, with rumors of his potentially ditching all the titles to move up to the welterweight division. The reigning champion has yet to make that decision, although he is forced to either commit to his ordered mandatory title defenses or relinquish such titles.
Taylor was also ordered on April 28 to enter negotiations for a mandatory title defense versus WBC number-one contender and former title challenger Jose ‘Chon’ Zepeda (35-2, 27KOs). The WBC set aside a May 24 purse bid hearing should the two sides fail to reach terms.
The order clearly overlaps with the WBA title fight, which TGB hoped to stage on July 16 in Las Vegas if Taylor agreed. The belief was that it would be enough to get Taylor to relinquish his title, at which point Puello would be ordered to face the next highest-ranked available contender for the vacant title.
Venezuela’s Ismael Barroso (23-3-2, 21KOs) is the current number contender in the latest WBA rankings.
Puello was always willing to accept a fight with anyone as so ordered by the WBA. The 27-year-old Dominican southpaw claimed the now-defunct interim WBA junior welterweight title in a twelve-round win over Jonathan Alonso in July 2019. Two defenses of the secondary belt followed while waiting out fights with Taylor or for the WBA ‘World’ junior welterweight title held by Mario Barrios and then Gervonta ‘Tank’ Davis.
None of the fights materialized prior to Puello landing among several interim titlists to have their status removed upon the WBA’s aggressive—and forced—title reduction campaign. Puello was able to retain the same rights previously afforded an interim titlist as he was installed as the mandatory challenger.
The unbeaten boxer spent the rest of the year calling for a fight with Davis (26-0, 24KOs), who instead dropped back down lightweight where he also held a secondary WBA title. Davis was able to retain both belts through his December 5 win over Mexico City’s Isaac Cruz (23-2-1, 16KOs) before agreeing to relinquish the WBA 140-pound title.
That left Puello to call for a fight with Taylor, who was already committed to an overdue WBO mandatory title defense versus Catterall. The undefeated Scotsman is now on the hook for two mandatory title defenses, though with the likely scenario of having his WBA belt removed and with Puello negotiation with Barroso or whoever else winds up next.
“We wanted the Taylor fight,” notes Pena. “But the important thing is that our fighter receives what he deserves.”
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox