American fighter Andre Dirrell was knocked out a split second after the bell by Venezuela's Jose Uzcategui at the end of the eighth round of their interim WBA super middleweight title fight on Saturday night at the MGM National Harbor in Maryland.
The Venezuelan was disqualified as the eighth-round bell had already sounded, and Dirrell declared winner of the fight. However, the result was overshadowed when Dirrell’s uncle and trainer Leon Lawson Jnr got into the ring. As the referees deliberated and doctors attended to Dirrell, Lawson landed a sucker punch on Uzcategui out of revenge.
According to ESPN’s Dan Rafael: “Dirrell’s uncle, Leon Lawson, is wanted by cops and they don’t know where he is.”
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“I’m sorry for what my coach has done. My coach is my family, my uncle, and he was worried," Dirrell said. "He cares for me. He loves me. That's my man, that's my uncle, that's my brother, that's my coach. Please forgive him."
Dirrell also stressed his love for his opponent: "All I remember honestly was him catching me with a shot probably at the same time as the bell rang because I remember hearing the bell. But after that, it's a blurred vision but I do want to say this, I love Uzcategui and I love his camp."
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“I forgive Uzcategui. I forgive his camp. I don’t want to win a championship like this," said Dirrell, who could get a rematch title shot against unified super middleweight champion James DeGale. "I wanted to win fair and square. But I forgive him."
Lawson left the scene after the melee and was being sought by Prince George's County Police. Uzcategui's team later filed charges against Lawson for first- and second-degree assault.
Uzcategui was leading on two of the three judges' scorecards and was tied on the other when he delivered his punch after the bell. He cost himself a victory, although that didn't stop Lawson from entering the ring and landing a sucker punch.
Uzcategui thought he was winning
Uzcategui felt he was in control of the fight.
"I felt very good. I was hurting him the entire fight. I felt like I could hurt him anytime I wanted. Nothing he hit me with hurt me,” Uzcategui said. "I was throwing a three-punch combination and I didn't hear the bell. I didn't mean to hit him. The third punch wasn't that hard of a punch. I was surprised he stayed down.
"He quit against me. I deserve to be the winner."
But referee Bill Clancy said he had warned Uzcategui twice earlier about punches after the bell.
“The bell rang to stop the round. The round was over and Andre was knocked out with an illegal punch," Clancy announced. "So therefore, Dirrell will win this fight by disqualification. That’s a blatant foul. Earlier in the fight, I had warned Uzcategui. Dirrell wins the fight, he was clearly unable to continue."
"All I remember was him (Uzcategui) throwing a shot at me at the same time the bell rang," Dirrell said. "After that everything was blurry. I remember a shot and then all went fuzzy."
Dirrell now has a record of 26 wins and just two defeats, with both his losses coming at the hands of British boxers.
Carl Froch defeated him on a split decision in 2009 to claim the WBC super middleweight title.
And De Gale beat Dirrell with a unanimous decision after their 2015 bout in Boston.
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