Decision upheld on controversial ending in Andre Dirrell-Jose Uzcategui DQ
The ending of their May bout is still one of the most bizarre scenes of the year
Super middleweight Jose Uzcategui's controversial disqualification loss against Andre Dirrell in their May 20 vacant interim world title fight was upheld Wednesday by the Maryland State Athletic Commission.
During a hearing to review the fight in Baltimore, the commission voted 3-1 (one member was absent) in favor of upholding referee Bill Clancy's decision that Uzcategui landed a punch after the bell, knocking Dirrell face down and out at the MGM National Harbor in Oxon Hill, Maryland.
Uzcategui (26-2, 22 KOs), a native of Venezuela, had uncorked a three-punch combination to end the round with replays proving the final punch landed after the bell. Because Dirrell was ruled unable to continue, Clancy could've ruled the punch an accidental foul, which would have sent the fight to the scorecards (with Uzcategui winning by majority technical decision).
Instead, Clancy ruled the punch intentional, which handed the victory to Dirrell (26-2, 16 KOs). From there, a bizarre melee broke out with Leon Lawson, Dirrell's uncle and assistant trainer, landing a sucker punch against Uzcategui while he was standing in his own corner.
"Our position is that Mr. Clancy lost control of the situation," Sean Gibbons, an adviser to Uzcategui, told ESPN on Thursday. "He overrode the doctor to make the decision. He's the sole arbiter, but one of the things Mr. Clancy did was when Mr. Dirrell was down on his knees, he told him to get up.
"He said, 'Are you OK?' And Dirrell nodded yes. Then he went to the corner and screamed, 'Get me a doctor' while people outside the ring, including Mr. Dirrell's brother, told him to fall over. One of our contentions was that as the doctor was entering the ring, Mr. Clancy said to him, 'Tell me if Dirrell can continue.' And 10 seconds into the doctor looking at Mr. Dirrell, Clancy yelled, 'I'm disqualifying [Uzcategui]!'
"Throughout the whole testimony, Bill Clancy was very combative as he was in the ring that night to Uzcategui and it felt like he was under attack. We feel he misrepresented the facts."
In Clancy's defense, he had warned Uzcategui for hitting after the bell earlier in the fight to end the second round. Uzcategui's team ultimately took umbrage with the idea that their fighter would've committed the same foul a second time on purpose.
"Mr. Clancy was adamant that since Mr. Uzcategui had accidentally hit Dirrell after the bell after the second round that it was intentional at the end of the eighth round, and because he had already warned him, that's why he disqualified him," Gibbons said. "They didn't buy that it was in the heat of battle. It was a three-punch combination as the bell was ringing and there was no way he can pull up at that point. But at no point was Uzcategui doing anything intentional, but Clancy kept going on that it was intentional."
Despite the ruling of the Maryland commission, the IBF did not agree, with president Daryl Peoples believing Clancy had made multiple errors in his handling of the bout. Peoples went on to order an immediate rematch, which Gibbons hopes will take place in December.
Lawson, for his role in the incident, was issued an indefinite suspension from both the Maryland commission and various other sanctioning organizations, which bans him from working any corners in the United States.
After initially fleeing police, Lawson turned himself in on assault charges. His Aug. 16 trial was delayed until Nov. 16 while Lawson's attorney and the state work out a plea deal that likely will see Lawson serve at least some jail time.
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