|Tuesday, April 12, 1994|
By Jay N. Miller
Boxing trainer Vin Vecchione of Braintree had been telling people how anxious Peter McNeeley was to get back in action, almost from the moment a 40-stitch cut over his left eye sidelined the heavyweight on Feb. 18.
After dominating Brockton's Stanley Wright for eight rounds of their New England title match that night in Boston, McNeeley suffered the gash. Despite the protests of McNeeley and his corner, the referee stopped the fight, resulting in his first-ever defeat after 24 pro wins.
McNeeley was slated to return to combat on an April 30 Whitman Armory show, but his cut healed enough that Vecchione accepted an offer in the meantime. Last Saturday night, McNeeley began his comeback in Fort Smith, AK, with a second round knockout of Homer Jackson. Jackson, from Indianola, MS, met McNeeley in mid-ring and engaged him in a toe-to-toe slugout, until McNeeley's power wore him down.
"This kid was tough," McNeeley said Monday at Whitman's South Shore Boxing Club, "he just stood there and battled, and he never did go down. They use small gloves in Arkansas, eight ounces, and my hands were sore from hitting him so hard."
Vecchione felt staging McNeeley's initial comeback far from home was a wise move. "One reason I jumped at this offer was that Peter would have no tension on the road," he said. "People don't realize how hard it is to always fight in front of your friends and family. Besides, they have no pro teams — no Red Sox, Bruins, Celtics — so we were treated like royalty down there."
McNeeley will still be the headliner on the April 30 Whitman Armory card, and Vecchione explained that the Arkansas opportunity grew out of his ongoing negotiations with the Don King organization. Al Braverman, events coordinator for King, has been trying to sign McNeeley to a promotional contract for some time and offered the youngster a slot on the Fort Smith show.
"We flew down without a contract, knowing nothing about our opponent," Vecchione said. "But it all worked out, and they were very impressed with Peter."
King's people were so happy, in fact, they're flying McNeeley, Vecchione, and SSBC director Cliff Phippen to North Carolina tomorrow where McNeeley may be able to pickup another paycheck as a last-minute added attraction.
The Whitman Armory program figures to have two world heavyweight champions working the corners. Larry Holmes has confirmed to the SSBC that he'll be bringing his 2-0 light-heavyweight Andrew Yakozy to town for a bout, and Floyd Patterson will return with his heavyweight prospect Martin Foster, last seen losing a 10-rounder on the USA network three weeks ago. Tickets ($20) for the show are on sale at the Regal Food Mart in Whitman, and through the SSBC at 447-0031.
See also: McNeeley Back On Winning Track With Quick KO [Suburban Press]
This story ran on page 24 of The Boston Patriot Ledger on 04/12/94