HOLLYWOOD, Florida – Alberto Puello has boxed only once outside of the Dominican Republic since he made his pro debut seven years ago.
The Dominican southpaw thus realizes that he isn’t well known among American boxing fans. Puello promised, though, that he will leave a lasting impression on those that tune in to Showtime to watch him fight for the vacant WBA super lightweight title Saturday night.
“People might not know me,” Puello told BoxingScene.com, “but Saturday night, people will know who I am.”
Puello (20-0, 10 KOs) will battle Batyr Akhmedov (9-1, 8 KOs) for a WBA 140-pound championship that Josh Taylor gave up three months ago. The unbeaten Scottish southpaw relinquished that title in mid-May because he didn’t want to make a mandatory defense against Puello, who is the WBA’s number two contender in the 140-pound division.
Fighting Taylor would’ve presented Puello with a higher-profile opportunity, but the 28-year-old contender is thankful that he’ll get a title shot in the co-feature of Showtime’s four-bout broadcast from Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino.
“I’m not disappointed at all,” Puello said. “As long as they give me the opportunity, I’m willing to take on anybody. I’m not scared of anybody, so I’ll take the chance.”
Uzbekistan’s Akhmedov, who is ranked number one among the WBA’s contenders, will fight for a more legitimate version of the WBA super lightweight title than when he lost a controversial unanimous decision to then-unbeaten Mario Barrios in September 2019. San Antonio’s Barrios dropped Akhmedov twice in their 12-round bout, but Akhmedov again said he was “robbed” during a press conference Thursday.
Puello disagreed with Akhmedov’s assessment of that WBA world super lightweight championship match at Staples Center in Los Angeles.
“It was a complicated fight,” Puello said, “but I think Barrios should’ve won, just like he did.”
Before he meets Akhmedov in the most important fight of his career, Puello will keep as close an eye as possible on the second of four fights Showtime will air.
Another Dominican southpaw, Hector Luis Garcia, will challenge Venezuela’s Roger Gutierrez (26-3-1, 20 KOs) in that bout for Gutierrez’s WBA super featherweight title. Garcia (15-0, 10 KOs, 3 NC) is one of Puello’s closest friends and they come from the same hometown, San Juan de la Maguana.
Puello hopes he and Garcia will both be crowned champions on the same card Saturday night.
“That would be a great night for Dominican boxing,” Puello said. “For both of us to become champions on Saturday night, it would be historic.”
Showtime’s telecast is scheduled to start at 8 p.m. ET with a 10-round, 143-pound bout that’ll pit Brandun Lee (25-0, 22 KOs), of La Quinta, California, against Will Madera (17-1-3, 10 KOs), of Albany, New York. Omar Figueroa (28-2-1, 19 KOs), of Weslaco, Texas, and Kazakhstan’s Sergey Lipinets (16-2-1, 12 KOs) are set to square off in the main event, a 12-round, 140-pound bout.
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.