By Keith Idec
NEW YORK – Jose Uzcategui isn’t seeking vengeance for the sucker punches he took nine months ago.
The super middleweight contender even joked Thursday during an interview with BoxingScene.com that neither Andre Dirrell nor his uncle/former trainer, Leon Lawson Jr., could hurt him during and after their first fight. The forgiving fighter doesn’t hold Dirrell in any way accountable for his uncle’s ugly actions following their May 20 bout in Oxon Hill, Maryland.
Angry because Uzcategui hit Dirrell after the bell, Lawson punched Uzcategui in the face twice following his disqualification defeat at MGM National Harbor.
“What happened is in the past,” Uzcategui said through a translator before a press conference Thursday. “Things happen in the ring. His uncle decided to do what he did, but now we get an opportunity at the rematch. That’s in the past for me. I’m more focused on what’s coming up Saturday night.”
That’s when Venezuela’s Uzcategui (26-2, 22 KOs) and Dirrell (26-2, 16 KOs), of Flint, Michigan, will go at it again in a 12-round rematch for the IBF interim super middleweight title. The second Dirrell-Uzcategui fight will be broadcast by Showtime as the opener of a doubleheader that’ll feature WBC heavyweight champ Deontay Wilder (39-0, 38 KOs) against Luis Ortiz (28-0, 24 KOs, 2 NC) in the main event.
Uzcategui was defeating Dirrell on all three scorecards before referee Bill Clancy declared that he hit Dirrell after the bell sounded to end the eighth round. Once Dirrell said he couldn’t continue, Clancy disqualified Uzcategui and Dirrell was awarded the IBF’s interim super middleweight championship.
The IBF later ordered an immediate rematch.
Lawson fled the scene after hitting an unsuspecting Uzcategui, first with a flush left hook to his face and again with a right hand that grazed Uzcategui’s chest. He eventually turned himself in to authorities in Prince George’s County, Maryland.
Felony assault charges against Lawson were downgraded to one charge of misdemeanor assault. He also was suspended by the Maryland State Athletic Commission.
“I didn’t say anything wrong,” Uzcategui said. “I just did my work. They tried to mess with me, but I don’t pay attention to that. I just focus on what I have to do in the ring.
“His uncle got frustrated. He took things the way that he did. As I always say, I’m moving forward. I’ve had class since I was 6 years old and I’m a very mature person.”
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.