HOLLYWOOD, Florida – Alberto Puello completed what was an unforgettable feat for boxing in the Dominican Republic on Saturday night.

The undefeated Dominican beat Batyr Akhmedov by split decision to win the vacant WBA super lightweight title in a 12-round co-feature Showtime televised from Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino. In the previous bout, another Dominican southpaw, Hector Luis Garcia, out-classed Roger Gutierrez to take the WBA super featherweight championship from him.

Puello and Garcia are longtime friends from the same hometown, San Juan de la Maguana, and achieved their dreams in back-to-back bouts broadcast on American television.

The skillful Puello had a much tougher time with Akhmedov than Garcia had while defeating Gutierrez, yet he won on two scorecards. Judges Benoit Roussel and Mark Streisand scored their back-and-forth bout between southpaws identically, 117-111 for Puello (21-0, 10 KOs), who lost 115-113 on the card of judge Lisa Giampa.

Akhmedov landed 16 more punches overall, according to CompuBox’s unofficial statistics (207-of-764 to 191-of-825). CompuBox counted more power punches for Akhmedov (198-of-502 to 168-of-503) and more jabs for Puello (23-of-322 to 9-of-262).

The taller, rangier Puello got off to a strong start and counterpunched precisely at times to deal with Akhmedov’s persistent pressure and body punching. Akhmedov came on strong during the second half of their fight, though, and the crowd booed loudly when Showtime’s Jimmy Lennon Jr. announced the decision.

His defeat to Puello was the second close loss in a 12-round, 140-pound title fight for Akhmedov in nearly three years. Mario Barrios beat Akhmedov by unanimous decision in September 2019 at Staples Center in Los Angeles, but Akhmedov (9-2, 8 KOs) reiterated during a press conference Thursday that he was “robbed” that night.

Akhmedov, 31, and Puello, 28, fought for the unclaimed WBA belt Josh Taylor relinquished in mid-May because the unbeaten Scottish southpaw didn’t want to make a mandatory defense against Puello.

It became apparent by the championship rounds Saturday night that neither Puello nor Akhmedov would hurt his opponent enough to get a stoppage.

The 10th, 11th rounds and 12th rounds mirrored most of the prior rounds, as Akhmedov pushed the action for all three minutes in each round, while Puello attempted to counterpunch the aggressor.

Puello boxed well at times in the ninth round, but Akhmedov’s pressure put him on his back foot yet again throughout those three minutes. Akhmedov landed various body shots during that round and nailed Puello with a straight left several seconds before it ended.

A precise Puello landed a right hook up top and then a right hook to the body with about 20 seconds remaining in the eighth round.

Puello boxed effectively again for most of the sixth round. Akhmedov seemed to affect Puello with multiple body shots during the final 20 seconds of that round, though, which made Puello reach out to hold him as it came to an end.

Puello and Akhmedov landed short shots as they battled on the inside for most of the middle minute of the fifth round. Puello clipped Akhmedov with a left hand just before the fifth round ended.

Akhmedov snuck in a right hook while Puello was backed against the ropes with just over 20 seconds on the clock in the fourth round.

Akhmedov tried to get inside the taller, longer Puello’s jab during the third round, but Puello made him pay with crisp counter punches.

A right-left combination by Puello landed with just over 30 seconds on the clock in the third round. Puello also clipped Akhmedov with a left uppercut several seconds before the third round concluded.

A straight left by Puello made Akhmedov back off 1:05 into the second round. Puello was the busier, sharper puncher throughout that second round.

Burgos warned Puello for a low blow with just over 40 seconds on the clock in the first round. Puello connected with the hardest punch of the opening round, a left uppercut, with just under 20 seconds to go in it.

Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.