Boxing was in for a huge weekend of world title fights all over the United States and Japan, but one particular fight, Andre Dirrell and Jose Uzcategui’s clash for the vacant IBF interim super middleweight belt, had one of the most controversial endings in recent memory.
Dirrell won the vacant title by eighth-round DQ after Uzcategui punched him just as the bell rang to end the eighth round and he was ruled unable to continue on the Gary Russell Jr.-Oscar Escandon undercard at the MGM National Harbor.
Despite Dirrell winning via disqualification, Uzcategui was actually ahead in the official cards. Uzcategui was ahead 77-74 and 77-75 on two scorecards, and the third judge had the fight 76-76.
Dirrell went down on the canvas and referee Bill Clancy ruled that the punch landed after the bell. In the post-fight interview with Showtime, Uzcategui said he did not hear the bell ring as he was throwing a punch combo.
"I was throwing a three-punch combination, and I didn't hear the bell," Uzcategui said. "I didn't mean to hit him. The third punch wasn't that hard of a punch. I was surprised he stayed down. He did the same thing against Abraham that he did against me tonight. He quit against me, and he quit against him. I deserve to be the winner."
Clancy defended his call and awarding the title to Dirrell in a post-fight interview.
"The bell rang to stop the round. The round was over and Andre was knocked out with an illegal punch. So therefore, Dirrell will win this fight by disqualification," Clancy said. "That's a blatant foul. Earlier in the fight, I had warned Uzcategui. I warned him. Dirrell wins the fight; he was clearly unable to continue."
But the mess would only worsen once the fight was over. As Dirrell was being attended to by the ringside doctor, Leon Lawson Jr., Dirrell's uncle and assistant trainer, stormed across the ring and hit a hard left hand on Uzcategui's face which started a riot inside the ring. Dirrell apologized on behalf of his uncle.
"I'm sorry for what my coach has done," Dirrell said. "My coach is my family, my uncle, and he was worried. He cares for me. He loves me. Please forgive him. I'm going to stand up like a man. I didn't win like I wanted to, but I'll be back."
According to Showtime ringside reporter Jim Gray, police said they were searching for Lawson and that he would be arrested when found. Dirrell now joins James DeGale, Gilberto Ramirez and Tyron Zeuge as the current world champions in boxing's 168-pound division.