The WBA has suspended trainer Leon Lawson Jr. indefinitely from being involved in any WBA-sanctioned bouts following his attack on super middleweight contender Jose Uzcategui last Saturday night at the MGM National Harbor in Oxon Hill, Maryland.
Lawson’s nephew, Andre Dirrell, was awarded an eighth-round disqualification victory to win a vacant interim super middleweight 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 and sending 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 post-fight confusion.
He is still wanted by authorities on two counts of assault. The WBC suspended Lawson from all activity related to its fights on Monday and the WBA followed suit on Thursday.
“We think it was an action that all those who love sport should reject,” WBA president Gilberto Jesus Mendoza said. “There was a blow after the bell, the product of an action that I consider involuntary, that (Uzcategui) could not stop, and then the cowardly act in which Lawson punched the boxer occurred. Therefore, as the WBC did, we suspended him indefinitely. I rejected the incident since I saw it. However, I wanted to talk to (IBF president) Daryl Peoples first to make my point because it was a match sanctioned by them and I thought it was best to talk to him first.”
The IBF, which has not announced any punishment of Lawson at this point, is considering whether it will order a rematch. Uzcategui’s team has filed an appeal with the Maryland State Athletic Commission, hoping the video of the final punch sequence will be reviewed and the result of the fight will be overturned.
The Association of Boxing Commissions, a national nonprofit organization that represents state and Native American tribal boxing commissions and works with commissions to standardize rules, has also encouraged all member commissions to refuse to license Lawson, who faces jail time for the assault.