Ranked No. 7 heavyweight by World Boxing Association,
"Hurricane" Peter McNeeley has been around the fight game nearly all his life. He followed in the footsteps of his father and grandfather by entering the sport at the age of 18. As an amateur, he won the New England Golden Gloves in Lowell, Massachusetts in 1989 and the New England Diamond Belt Tournament later that year.
Peter's grandfather Tom Sr. was the national amateur champion and a member of the 1928 U.S. Olympic team. As a professional, Tom Sr. was the New England light heavyweight champion. He was also part of the first fight card ever held at the Boston Garden in 1928.
Peter's father Tom McNeeley Jr. was a well-known and popular heavyweight contender in the 50's and 60's, challenging Floyd Patterson for the world heavyweight championship in 1961. As a result of that fight, Tom McNeeley was captured on the cover of Sports Illustrated and Peter recalls seeing the magazines and newspaper clippings on his father and grandfather. Spending hours in the attic digging up all the old articles, Peter set his sights on the sport of boxing as well.
Peter's mother Nancy McNeeley was a finalist in the Miss Universe pageant in the early 60's. Today she is a successful businesswoman and a professor at Mount Ida College in Newton, Massachusetts, where she teaches a course in fashion marketing.
Peter's amateur boxing career was relatively brief but established the young fighter as a future prospect. He successfully represented the United States in international competition, defeating Wayne Bernard of Canada, who was, at that time, the world Maritime heavyweight champion. Other notable wins included a first round knockout of No. 1 ranked US amateur James Johnson.
Turning professional in 1991, Peter quickly began to attract attention as an up-and-comer in the heavyweight division. In his debut on August 23, he scored a first-round knockout over veteran Van Dorsey. His first six fights were all wins by way of first-round knockout.
Peter would go on to win his first 24 fights, 18 by knockout, before suffering a defeat. On February 18, 1994, nearly three years after turning pro, he lost a hard fought battle to 6'10" Stanley Wright. Peter was clearly winning every round in the fight when he suffered a vicious cut in the seventh round. Though he felt it was caused by a thumb rather than a clean punch, the bout was halted a round later when the doctor saw the severity of the cut. Going ballistic at the announcement, Peter and his corner were furious with the decision that left him with his first professional loss.
A young man with his priorities in order, Peter divided his time between his boxing career and his education, receiving a degree in political science from Bridgewater State College in 1994. He briefly considered pursuing an acting career when he nearly landed the role as Sylvester Stallone's protege in Rocky V. In the end Peter lost the role to rival heavyweight Tommy Morrison, which convinced him to stick with his first real love: boxing.
The hard-hitting Irish kid from Boston got his first major nationwide television exposure on Showtime, March 17, 1995. The St. Patrick's Day boxing special was held in Worcester, Massachusetts, and Peter faced Danny Lee Wofford. Known for his durability, Wofford was supposed to get Peter used to going more than a round or two, having gone the distance with several noted fighters including Trevor Berbick, Michael Bentt, Shannon Briggs, and Pinklon Thomas. However, Wofford was no match for McNeeley. After pounding him from the opening bell and knocking him to the canvas, Peter got the TKO victory when Wofford was unable to answer the bell for the second round.
Possessing power in both hands, Peter's 25 knockouts in the first round total more than even Mike Tyson. His explosive style and exciting ring persona attracted the attention of super promotor Don King, who quickly signed the young heavyweight to a multi-year contract.
Peter got the opportunity to go up against Tyson as the former undisputed champion's first post-prison opponent on August 19, 1995, a fight that would be seen by over one billion people worldwide and change Peter's life forever. Climbing into the ring as a considerable underdog, the Hurricane did what many did not think possible: he charged right at Tyson, smothering him with combinations and backing him up until a shot to the side of the head sent Peter to the canvas on the seat of his pants in a flash knockdown. Bouncing back up immediately, Peter continued to press the attack. The fighters exchanged heavy punches at a furious pace for another minute. Then Peter was floored by a thunderous uppercut. Peter looked dazed but was on his feet and ready to continue when manager and trainer Vinnie Vecchione climbed into the ring to save his fighter from further punishment, ending the fight by disqualification at the 1:39 mark.
Peter recovered from the Tyson extravaganza to win the USBF heavyweight championship with a second round stoppage of Mike Sam at the Fleet Center in Boston in his next fight. He recorded four consecutive early-round knockouts over a nine month stretch before he suffered another setback at the hands of journeyman Louis Monaco in Denver on July 13, 1996.
Needing to rebound again, Peter found himself at a turning point in his career. Feeling burnt out after a lackluster victory in upstate New York a month later, Peter stayed out of the ring for more than a year to sort out some personal issues. He laced up the gloves again on December 5, 1997 to score a decisive victory over Doug Davis. Back on track, the Hurricane won three straight in 1998 and continued to improve with each victory.
Peter again found himself at a crossroads in 1999 with a loss in his high profile bout with "Butterbean" Eric Esch in Las Vegas on June 26th. Admittedly, Pete had an off night against the Bean and was never really able to get going with his fight plan. Esch, however, was fired up and used his 99 pound weight advantage effectively. Peter had not been down nor was he cut, and although Esch scored with a heavy uppercut and four-punch flurry as Peter covered up against the ropes, the round was one second from being over and Pete's hands were up when referee Jay Nady leaped between the fighters to end the contest at 2:59. Peter looked at Nady like he had lost his mind. Despite all the controversy surrounding the stoppage a rematch does not appear likely at this point - but Peter would probably do just about anything for a second chance.
The Hurricane may be down now, but he is definitely not out. However disheartening this loss may be, Peter is a fighter and he will be back to fight another day.
Peter McNeeley is trained and managed by   Vinnie Vecchione at the Grealish Boxing Club in Dorchester, Massachusetts.   He resides in nearby Medfield, the town where he was raised, and is an active participant in community affairs.
Check out the following link to learn the McNeeley family's connection with The Greatest,   Muhammed Ali.