Should Dirrell and Uzcategui have a rematch?

Should Dirrell and Uzcategui have a rematch?

Published: May 24, 2017


MGM NATIONAL HARBOR – This past weekend in Oxon Hill, Maryland fans were witness to another night of controversy within the sport of boxing. It started off with a controversial decision win for Rances Barthelemy (26-0, 13 KOs) over Kiryl Relikh (21-2, 19 KOs) in a fight most observers thought Relikh won. Afterward, a super middleweight bout between Andre Dirrell (26-2, 16 KOs) and Jose Uzcategui (26-2, 22 KOs) took place to determine the interim IBF champion to challenge IBF champion James Degale (23-1-1, 14 KOs). 

Unfortunately for both Dirrell and Uzcategui most of the attention was put on what happened after their fight instead of during the fight. The match between Dirrell and Uzcategui was competitive and entertaining with shifts of momentum. Uzcategui was able to hurt Dirrell in the second and third rounds with right hands. In what may have been a premonition of things to come Uzcategui landed a punch after the bell in the second round and was sternly warned by referee Bill Clancy. Dirrell to his credit was able to adjust landing carefully timed straight lefts from the southpaw stance as Uzcategui kept pressuring forward. 

The eighth round is where the fight came to an end as the Venezuelan kept the pressure on Dirrell and landed a combination on the ropes. Two of the punches of the combination landed right before the bell rang, but the last punch landed right after the bell. This punch knocked Dirrell down leaving the Flint, Michigan native unable to continue. The referee mentioned to Dirrell that he was going to disqualify Uzcategui, which may have been a mistake as Dirrell was conscious and responding back to questions.

The punch that knocked Dirrell down was part of a combination and would be difficult to pull back on when the bell rang. Clancy was not close enough to the two fighters when the bell rang and was complicit in how the fight ended.  At the time the fight was stopped Uzcategui was ahead on the judge's scorecards with scores of 77-74, 77-75, and one judge scoring the fight even at 76-76. 

After the fight emotions from the Dirrell camp were high, but Dirrell himself kept his composure and even went over to Uzcategui and embraced him in a show of sportsmanship. Dirrell’s trainer Leon Lawson decided to take a different approach. Lawson instead walked up to Uzcategui and sucker punched him with a vicious left hook that caused another melee in the ring. 

This may be the last time boxing fans see Lawson near a boxing ring for quite some time. Afterward, a warrant for the arrest of Lawson was issued, and as of this writing he has still not been arrested. The main event that night that saw Gary Russell Jr. (28-1, 17 KOs) stop Oscar Escandon (25-3, 17 KOs) in seven rounds. It was an exciting bout and excellent performance by Russell that was completely overshadowed by Lawson's actions. 

Now after all the controversy Dirrell and Uzcategui stand at a crossroads of what to do next. With the fight being so close and competitive a rematch is warranted. Fernando Beltran of Zanfer Promotions spoke with ESPN Deportes about Lawson, having the IBF order a rematch, and changing the fight to a no-contest.

“It was an outrage from all sides. It was a very painful thing that made Dirrell’s team look cowardly, with a punch that was practically snuck in. We are going to legally prosecute Dirrell’s team and whoever is responsible. Dirrell was running, he was terrified of Uzcategui. The best thing would be to make the fight a no-contest. Neither a victory for one nor a victory for the other. Let the IBF order a direct rematch and fix things as things should be fixed in this sport, in the ring.”
— Fernando Beltran

The WBC (world boxing council) issued a statement suspending Lawson from any WBC sanctioned fight. They were not alone as The Association of Boxing Commissions also called for all commissions not to license Lawson to participate in any future boxing matches as a corner man. 

“The actions, which have been seen all over the world in which Mr. Lawson attacks and punches with bare fists Uzcategui, have created regrettable damage to our sport. The WBC rejects any form of foul play, aggressions, and behavior. We will seek a meeting with Mr. Lawson to offer several forms of help to address this grave situation.”
— WBC
The Association of Boxing Commissions feels it necessary to encourage all member Commissions NOT to license Mr. Leon Lawson as a cornerman, based on his punch to Jose Uzcategui. Commissions have many regulations in place directed at the safety of participants. Even though it appears Lawson was reacting to a late strike in the match, NO cornerman or trainer should be so out of control as to take a punch at anyone, and certainly not at the opposing fighter. As the President of the ABC, it seems that the action by Mr. Lawson was not only unprofessional but probably also criminal. The sport of boxing does not condone or excuse Mr. Lawson’s criminal act, and it is my personal hope the state of Maryland will take direct action against Mr. Lawson. All Commissions should refuse him license as a second/trainer anywhere in the United States. Instance like this one gives the sweet science a black eye.”
— Michael Mazzuli

As of now, it may be too early to tell if a rematch will occur between Dirrell and Uzcategui. Whomever Dirrell steps in the ring with next one thing we know is that Lawson will not be in his corner.  


(Feature Photo: Showtime Sports)

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