Alberto Puello is about to be a father.
The process to get there, however, could also lead to his becoming an ex-titleholder.
BoxingScene.com has confirmed that the Dominican Republic’s Puello and his team are fully cooperating with several parties involved in his recent positive drug test. The unbeaten WBA junior welterweight titlist recently produced an adverse finding of the banned substance Clomiphene, a fertility drug that—when used properly and with authorization—can improve low sperm count for men.
The development resulted in Puello being removed from a scheduled May 13 title defense versus Rolando Romero, which was due to headline a Showtime card from The Cosmopolitan in Las Vegas. A fine and suspension could also be in his future, though Puello and his team have acknowledged the April 5 drug test and the reason for the substance found in his system.
“We already sent the evidence to the proper agencies,” Belgica Peña, Puello’s promoter, told Boxing Scene. “We have proof of the doctor visits, the hospital stays and his wife’s pregnancy.”
The necessary documentation has been submitted to the Nevada State Athletic Commission and the WBA. VADA officials are also being kept apprised of the situation as Puello (21-0, 10KOs) to clear his name and—with any luck on his end—avoid being stripped of his WBA junior welterweight title.
Boxing Scene’s Keith Idec was the first to report the drug test finding on Wednesday, which showed “an adverse analytical finding” of “Clomiphene and its M1 and M2 metabolites.” A positive drug test normally results in the end of the testing process as contracted through VADA, save for previously collected samples not yet analyzed.
VADA does not have authority to issue sanctions on a participant; rather, the independent testing agency reports the results to the involved parties, the presiding commission and—if a title is at stake—the appropriate sanctioning bodies. Puello’s test result was reported to NSAC executive director Jeff Mullen; TGB Promotions head Tom Brown; Al Haymon, creator of Premier Boxing Champions (PBC); WBA president Gilberto Jesus Mendoza; and Mike Mazzulli, president of the Association of Boxing Commissions (ABC).
Puello has not yet received a suspension as of Thursday evening, as this goes to publication. Nor is his case due to appear on the next Nevada commission hearing scheduled for April 25 at state headquarters in Las Vegas.
For now, he still has the chance to clear his name and preserve the title he claimed in an August 20 victory over Batyr Akhmedov in Hollywood, Florida.
“After he and his wife tried for years without success to have children, Alberto visited a urologist and a fertility doctor,” Pena explained to Boxing Scene. “After running several studies, he was diagnosed with Grade 3 Bilateral Variocele. The specialist recommended surgery and medical treatment which we discovered unfortunately contained the banned substance in question.
“We turned over all of the medical records to the (Nevada) commission, the drug testing agency (VADA) and the WBA. The good news is that his wife is pregnant.”
Even if Puello is able to prove his case, he is still at fault for failing to disclose any medications he has recently taken upon enrolling in VADA. While the testing agency boast a zero tolerance practice, he could have also filed an exemption with the Nevada commission, which would avoid any disciplinary action and likely would have permitted the fight to proceed in original form.
Instead, Puello will have to sit out the May 13 date. It was already decided that Romero (14-1, 12KOs) will face Venezuela’s Ismael Barroso, Puello’s mandatory challenger who was due to appear on the non-televised portion of the show. Event handlers are preparing for the bout to serve as a vacant title fight in the event that Puello is stripped.
The exact stakes for such a bout are not yet clear, however.
Boxing Scene has learned that England’s Ohara Davies (25-2, 19KOs) plans to protest such a development, as the number-two ranked contender. Davies recently knocked out countryman Lewis Ritson in the ninth-round of their March 4 clash in Newcastle. The bout was billed as a title eliminator and with the winner named the second mandatory challenger in waiting.
Romero’s previously announced shot at the title was in a planned voluntary title defense by Puello. Thus, the Las Vegas native—who is coming off a sixth-round knockout loss to Gervonta Davis (28-0, 26KOs) last May 28 in a secondary WBA lightweight title fight—does not have any claim to a vacant title.
For now, the hope for Puello is that nobody else can fight for the WBA title without his direct involvement.
“I have never [compromised] my principles,” Puello said. “I am a clean and disciplined fighter.”
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox