Josh Taylor ordered to face Alberto Puello

Josh Taylor has been handed another mandatory task.

The WBA has ordered the reigning undisputed junior welterweight champion to face unbeaten No.1-ranked contender Alberto Puello. The fight was formally ordered Wednesday, with both sides allocated a month to reach a deal to avoid a purse bid hearing.

The ruling comes just over a week after Taylor told reporters he would be moving up to welterweight following his controversial split decision win over mandatory challenger Jack Catterall to retain the lineal/WBA/WBC/IBF/WBO 140-pound titles.

The bout saw FightNights' No.8-ranked pound-for-pound fighter suffer the first knockdown of his pro career in round eight. Both combatants received point deductions in their Sky Sports/ESPN+ aired championship clash from Glasgow, Scotland. The British Board of Control (BBBoC) is currently investigating the scorecard, a process that includes interviews of the judges assigned to the fight. Furthermore, the UK police are also involved in the matter.

Should the 31-year-old southpaw change his mind, it could be seen as disappointing in a sense as it prevents Taylor, who became the undisputed champion last May 22 with a unanimous decision over former unified titleholder Jose Ramirez, from taking on more imposing, compelling bouts.

On the other hand, Catterall was largely written off and nearly pulled off the upset as the mandatory challenger. Puello (20-0, 10 KOs), a Dominican Republic native based in Las Vegas, who has held the WBA interim 168-pound belt since July 2019, has been overdue for a shot at the title. He last fought on December 21, picking up a 10-round unanimous decision over Ve Shawn Owens in Minnesota on the undercard of the David Morrell-Alantez Fox PBC on FS1 super middleweight main event.

However, the 27-year-old southpaw, who was one of many fighters to benefit from the WBA's decision to remove its interim titles last August—following a massively controversial decision involving Gabriel Maestre and Mykal Fox— has not defended the title since July 2021, when he dropped and outpointed Jesus Antonio Rubio over 10 rounds in his native homeland.

Should Taylor stick by his decision to move up to 147-pounds, he would likely be forced to vacate the WBA and WBC titles. Jose Zepeda (35-2, 27 KOs), who is the current WBC mandatory challenger, is taking a stay busy fight against Francisco Perez on March 19 in Mexico ahead of what is expected to be a vacant world title shot and potentially a rematch against former unified titleholder Jose Ramirez.

Ramirez (27-1, 17 KOs), a 2012 Olympian, outpointed Zepeda in a disputed majority decision win back in February 2019 when he was defending the WBC title for the second time.

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