Lawson faces August trial for sucker punch


Trainer Leon Lawson Jr., who sucker punched Jose Uzcategui in the face after a Showtime-televised boxing match last month, is scheduled to go on trial on an assault charge in August.

Lawson threw the sucker punch after a fight between his nephew, Andre Dirrell, and Uzcategui on May 20 at the MGM National Harbor in Oxon Hill, Maryland. The trial is scheduled to start Aug. 16 in Prince George’s County, Maryland, District Court.

Lawson, who has been suspended indefinitely by the Maryland State Athletic Commission as well as multiple sanctioning organizations from working in the corner for any fight, faces a second-degree assault charge, a misdemeanor, punishable by up to 10 years in prison, court spokesman John Erzen told ESPN on Monday.

Lawson initially also faced a first-degree assault charge, a felony, punishable by up to 25 years in prison. However, Erzen told ESPN that the first-degree charge “was dismissed because there was insufficient evidence.”

A warrant was issued for Lawson’s arrest shortly after the fight, when he left the arena and police could not locate him.

Attorney Frank J. Manley, who represents Lawson, arranged for Lawson to turn himself in to Maryland authorities, which he did on Friday.

Erzen said that after a preliminary hearing was held Friday, Lawson, of Flint, Michigan, was ordered to stand trial on Aug. 16 and released.

Dirrell, who is trained by Lawson, was awarded an eighth-round disqualification victory to win a vacant interim 168-pound world title against Uzcategui in the co-feature of the Gary Russell Jr.-Oscar Escandon featherweight world title bout.

Uzcategui hit Dirrell with a three-punch combination, the final punch landing while the bell was still ringing to end the round. Dirrell was unable to continue and referee Bill Clancy made a controversial call, ruling it an intentional foul and disqualifying Uzcategui rather than calling it unintentional, which would have sent the fight to the scorecards for a technical decision, which Uzcategui would have won by majority decision.

Minutes after the fight — and after Dirrell and Uzcategui had shaken hands and Uzcategui apologized to Dirrell, who said he accepted — Lawson went to Uzcategui’s corner and, with the fighter standing awaiting the official decision to be announced, sucker punched him in an ugly scene. Lawson threw three punches, including a bare-fisted left hand that hit him in the face.

Uzcategui was restrained by his handlers, and Lawson also was pulled away from him, but Lawson then slipped out of the arena during the postfight confusion.

Uzcategui, who is from Venezuela but lives in Mexico, plans to attend the trial if the case does not end with a plea bargain.

“Jose Uzcategui wants justice for the cowardly act of getting sucker punched by Leon Lawson Jr.,” Sean Gibbons, Uzcategui’s adviser, told ESPN. “Jose does not control what kind of deal the prosecutor cuts, but I can tell you Mr. Uzcategui will be in court to look Leon Lawson Jr. in the face when justice prevails, something he did not receive after the fight when that coward Leon Lawson Jr. sucker punched him. He wants Leon Lawson Jr. to be made an example of so this never happens again.”

The IBF, which sanctioned the interim world title fight, is considering ordering a rematch because of the controversial ending. Uzcategui also has appealed to the Maryland State Athletic Commission to review the fight and consider overturning the result because he believes Clancy made an erroneous call by ruling an intentional foul, which led to the disqualification, rather than an unintentional foul. The commission has not yet said whether it will review the fight.


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