Sunday, May 21, 2017

Andre Dirrell Title Fight Erupts In Explosive Punches and Disqualification


By Peter Silkov

Last night”s scenes at the MGM National Harbour, Oxon Hill, Maryland, during the aftermath of the Andre Dirrell vs Jose Uzcategui match, were a disgrace to the sport. Uzcaregui had just been disqualified after the 8th round for landing a punch after the bell, which sent Dirrell face-first to the canvas, and unable to continue the contest. Ironically, Dirrell was also involved in a similar incident in 2010, when Arthur Abraham also knocked him out with a blow after the bell. However, on that occasion, the aftermath was not quite as controversial and violent as it turned out to be on Saturday night. Uzcategui seemed to be very unlucky to be disqualified in a fight that he seemed to be winning clearly, for a late punch, which seemed purely accidental. Uzcategui already had Dirrell hurt and backed up into a corner, and was in the midst of a throwing a flurry of punches, when the bell sounded. In the past, fighters have got away with such incidences with point's deductions, or simple warnings, but with Dirrell seemingly rendered incapacitated by the late punch, the referee had little choice but to disqualify Uzcategui.

Yet, if Uzcategui was thinking that his night had just taken a bad turn things were about to get even darker. Moments later, with both boxers now in their corners, and Dirrell quickly recovering, Leon Lawson, Jr the uncle of Dirrell, and member of his coaching team, approached Jose Uzcategui, and sucker-punched him with a brutal left hand that snapped Uzcategui's head back alarmingly. Luckily, a second punch by Lawson only clipped Uzcategui's neck, and by then, his corner-men had rushed in front of their fighter to protect him from Lawson. It was a vicious, and to be blunt, cowardly attack by Lawson, who then fled the scene, and is now being sought by the Police. Hopefully Uzcategui is unhurt from the post-fight assault that he suffered at the hands of Lawson.

This incident recalls the case of the Richard Grant vs James Butler fight in November 2001, who incidentally were also super-middleweights, like Dirrell and Uzcategui. Richard Grant had caused a mild upset by out-pointing the fancied Butler over 10 rounds. After the decision had been announced, Butler had walked over to where Grant was stood, but instead of congratulating Grant on his win with the expected show of sportsmanship and respect, Grant (whose gloves had been removed, but not his hand-wraps) struck Grant in the face with a terrible punch, which sent Grant to the canvas with blood pouring from his mouth. Grant was later found to have suffered a broken jaw and concussion. For Butler, the repercussions of his spiteful blow were irreversible. He was charged with assault and jailed for 4 months, and barred form boxing for a time.

Eventually, Butler who was diagnosed with bipolar disorder in the aftermath of the Grant fight, was allowed to return to boxing, but he remained an outcast and had just 4 more fights, winning two. Then on March 2006, Butler was jailed for 29 years for the voluntary manslaughter of Sam Kellerman (younger brother of Max Kellerman) who had been allowing Butler to stay in his house. Richard Grant himself was never the same fighter after the Butler incident, and although he returned to the ring when his jaw had healed, he went 5-7-1 in the remainder of his career. Ultimately the tale of Grant vs Butler is far darker than Dirrell vs Uzcategui, but Leon Lawson should be severely reprimanded for his actions on Saturday night, which not only could have caused serious injury to Joe Uzcategui, but also came very close to sparking off a full scale riot in the arena. Dirrell is now in line to challenge James Degale who beat him on points two years ago, but anyone who saw last nights fight up to its controversial conclusion, would struggle to find a case for Dirrell being deserving of another fight with Degale. The fairest way to sort out this mess would be a rematch between Andre Dirrell and Jose Uzcategui. Hopefully without the presence of Leon Lawson. 

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