Sunday, April 23, 1995 Hot Springs, Arkansas

Crabtree, McNeeley Win By KO

'Fighting Hillbilly' stops O'Han in his first title defense

McNeeley sets world record with 6-second knockout

Bob Wisener
Sentinel-Record sports editor

PETER McNEELEY "Hurricane" Peter McNeeley

HOT SPRINGS, Arkansas — "Hurricane" Peter McNeeley broke the world record for fastest knockout with a first-round, one-punch KO of Frankie Hines Saturday night at Hot Springs Convention Auditorium. McNeeley floored his North Carolina foe with a big left hook only six seconds into their scheduled 10-round heavyweight fight.

The Beau Williford-trained prospect improved his record to 36-1 in the process and stole some of the thunder of local favorite Bobby Crabtree who was headlining the fight card.

"Mike Tyson's next," McNeeley said, positioning himself as the first opponent on the former heavyweight champion's comeback circuit late this summer.

Entering the ring for the main event, Crabtree tripped over the ropes but quickly regained his balance to hoist his newly won World Boxing Federation cruiserweight belt.

Making no further missteps, the self-styled "Fighting Hillbilly" from Fort Smith also left the ring with the belt. In his first title defense, Crabtree scored a third-round technical knockout in a scheduled 12-round match with New England cruiserweight champion Mike O'Han.

Crabtree bloodied O'Han's nose in the third and it was later said to be broken, causing the fight to be stopped before the next round. Crabtree could not remember one punch that might have inflicted the damage.

"I hit him with everything I thought could hurt him but it wouldn't," said the 34-year-old champion, now 58-22-2 with 54 knockouts.

Crabtree scored a knockdown late in the first round, but O'Han rose at the count of six, seconds before the bell sounded. O'Han landed a few shots of his own in the next two rounds, most with his opponent resting against the ropes, but Crabtree stepped up the tempo in the third and was getting his point across when the fight was stopped.

"He's an exciting guy. He comes to fight," said Williford, who also trains Crabtree. "Technically he may not be the best fighter in the world but he has the skills.

"I told him that even though O'Han has a lot of knockouts, he wasn't a puncher who beats you down. He wears you down with body shots and is very aggressive, all over you all the time. Bobby might have taken him a little lightly, although if there had been another 10 seconds in the first round, he would have knocked him out."

O'Han (18-3 with 16 KOs) stood in for former middleweight and light-heavyweight champion Iran Barkley, whom Williford said backed out after watching tapes of Crabtree's last two fights. Williford penciled in Barkley and Kenny Keane as future opponents; Keane yielded the WBF title to Crabtree in a 12-round split decision Feb. 10 in Fort Smith.

Crabtree is also mentioned as a future Tyson opponent, triggering reports that Tyson's promoter, Don King, would scout McNeeley or Crabtree or both Saturday night. King (a no-show) and 1,200 more would have filled the half-empty arena.

We had a great chance to bring national TV here (for future fights) and the local community didn't support it," Williford said. "It's a great town, Hot Springs, for everything but paying customers."

Planning to take Crabtree home to Fort Smith, where he sold out a 2,500 seat arena for the Keane match, Williford said Hot Springs is unlikely to receive a second chance as a fight town.

Saturday at Hot Springs Convention Auditorium
Heavyweights: Garing Lane, Fort Lauderdale, FL, def. Kenneth Jackson, Atlanta, TKO-2
Junior welterweights: Darren McCormick, Manchester, England, def. Sean Green, Atlanta, TKO-1
Light heavyweights: James Gatlin, Atlanta, def. Thurman Blanton, Fort Smith, decision-4
Junior middleweights: Lafayette Lawson, Hot Springs, and Stacey Goodson, Paris, AK, draw-4
Junior middleweights: Jason Papillion, Broussard, LA, def. David Taylor, Atlanta, decision-8
Junior welterweights: Kenneth Vice, Youngsville, LA, def. Jackie Beard, Jackson, TN, TKO-6
Heavyweights: Peter McNeeley, Boston, def. Frankie Hines, Forest City, NC, KO-1
Cruiserweights: Bobby Crabtree, Fort Smith, def. Mike O'Han, Boston, TKO-3

See also:   McNeeley breaks record with 6-second KO   [Boston Patriot Ledger]

This story ran on page 1B of The Hot Springs Sentinel-Record on 04/23/95