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Andre Dirrell talks fallout from Uzcategui fight

Andre Dirrell says he doesn’t condone his uncle’s sucker punch on Jose Uzcategui, and that he let him know that directly.

Andrew Dirrell, James DeGale Open Workouts Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images

Andre Dirrell may have officially won his IBF title eliminator bout against Jose Uzcategui this past weekend, but certainly not the manner he’d hoped for. Dirrell won the fight based on an 8th round DQ of Uzcategui, who knocked Dirrell out with a late punch after the bell.

Of course by now we all know what happened in the immediate aftermath, with Dirrell’s trainer and uncle Leon Lawson Jr. sneaking up on Uzcategui and hammering him with a bare-knuckle punch that he never saw coming. In the ensuing chaos, Lawson was able to escape the arena before he could be apprehended by local police officers.

Lawson still hasn’t been caught by authorities to face assault charges stemming from the incident, but he has since spoken to his nephew, who in turn tells RingTV that his uncle said to him: “I do regret it, but I don’t regret protecting you.”

The problem here is that no one who saw what happened would really consider that to be an act of protection — the fight had already been stopped and both fighters were separated in their respective corners at the time Lawson laid into Uzcategui. But the bonds of family and memories of a similar incident against Arthur Abraham, from which Dirrell suffered some post-fight neurological issues, appeared to overwhelm Lawson in that moment.

“(Lawson is) just a really, really loyal guy, man,” Dirrell (26-2, 16 knockouts) said. “He saw my kids crying and it happened to me before with Arthur Abraham and he was fed up. It happens to me in sparring often because (fighters) can’t get off like they want to.”

And just like in that 2010 fight with Abraham, many fans accused Dirrell of faking how badly he was hurt in order to secure a cheap disqualification win. Dirrell, however, says that’s not true at all, emphatically stating that he would’ve gotten up from the punch if he was able to.

Dirrell goes on to say that the whole experience has been pretty painful for him, knowing that there’s a good chance his uncle will never be allowed to work his corner again, but says that Lawson should’ve kept his composure — much like trainers teach their fighters to do amidst incoming fire.

”…I talked to him yesterday and said, ‘You shouldn’t have did that.’ I didn’t agree with it at all. People who don’t love him, I understand how they feel. He loves his family, he hated the fact that I got (fouled) again. My career has been a rollercoaster, and I mean one of the most frightening roller coasters. It hasn’t been easy. My uncle wanted me to have a smooth fight. He knew I didn’t deserve (to be fouled), especially toward the end of my career.”

But Dirrell also made it explicitly clear that Uzcategui didn’t deserve what he got from Lawson, particularly considering how vulnerable Uzcategui was at the time. He offered his apologies to Uzcategui and his team for what his uncle did, saying it still bothers him very much.

Moving forward, despite whatever controversy there might be about whether a disqualification was truly warranted, Dirrell is officially in position for another world title shot as James DeGale’s mandatory challenger. However Uzcategui’s team is looking to change that, asking for the fight to be ruled a no contest and that an immediate rematch is ordered, arguing the late punch was an accidental foul rather than an intentional one.

But even if the commission doesn’t overturn the official ruling, Dirrell says that it was no way to win and that he’ll gladly give Uzcategui a rematch following a title shot against James DeGale.

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