For the second time in his career, Andre Dirrell was knocked out by a punch (or punches) that landed after the bell sounded. This time, Dirrell was knocked down Saturday by a three-punch combination from Jose Uzcategui at the end of the eighth round in a bout for the interim IBF super middleweight title at the MGM Grand National Harbor in Oxon Hill, Md.
Dirrell was also knocked out after the bell by Arthur Abraham in 2010 and suffered a severe concussion. He didn’t fight again for 20 months.
On Saturday, Uzcategui landed a left hook, a straight right hand and another left hook as the round ended. According to Showtime’s replays, at least two of the blows and perhaps all three came after the bell.
As the round was winding down, referee Bill Clancy, who disqualified Uzcategui, could be heard telling the fighters to stop at the bell. But Uzcategui started the combination and failed to stop.
Clancy disqualified him and noted that Dirrell was unconscious.
“The round was over and Andre was knocked out with an illegal punch,” Clancy told Showtime’s Jim Gray in the ring. “Therefore, Andre will win the fight by disqualification.”
But Leon Lawson, Dirrell’s trainer as well as his uncle, made a bad situation worse by slugging an unaware Uzcategui. He approached Uzcategui in the corner, where Uzcategui was standing with his arms on the ropes. Lawson landed a two-punch combination. Uzcategui never moved and didn’t attempt to either defend himself or go after Lawson.
A first- and a second-degree assault charge was filed against Dirrell early Sunday by Sean Gibbons of Team Uzcategui in Prince George’s County District Court. Lawson, who remained at large, faces up to 25 years and a $2,500 fine on the first-degree assault charge against and another 10 years on the second-degree assault charge.
The first punch from Lawson landed on the chin, and the second hit Uzcategui in the neck. It was a vicious, unprovoked and uncalled for attack.
“All I remember honestly is him catching me a shot probably at the same time the bell rung, because I remember hearing the bell,” Dirrell said. “After that, it’s a blur. I do want to say this: I love Uzcategui and I love his camp.”
Asked if he felt the late blows were intentional, he said he had no idea and added, “I forgive Uzcategui with all my heart, man. I didn’t want to win a championship like this.”
Lawson, though, will face serious consequences for his actions. In addition to the assault charges, he’ll almost certainly be suspended by the Maryland commission.
Dirrell, who shouted, “No, Leon,” at one point after Lawson hit Uzcategui, was upset by his uncle’s actions but said it happened because they love each other.
“I’m very apologetic for what my coach has done,” Dirrell said. “But he loves me. You know, that’s my man; that’s my uncle; that’s my brother; that’s my coach. He cares about my well-being first. I don’t understand why he did that, because like I said, I feel fine. But these are the way the cards are dealt sometimes and I’ve got to deal with this.”