Mike Hogan: I'm trying to hook up with Peter McNeeley right now. I think he's the man a lot of people thought of when they saw Kevin McBride. McBride beat Tyson Saturday night and, we assume, ended his career, but of course that could change. Money talks, and if Tyson is broke...
Peter Loubardias: Doesn't he still owe the government $40 million?
Hogan: Is that all?
Loubardias: Last night Christine Simpson put together a great story on Peter McNeeley that I thoroughly enjoyed. She did a wonderful job. And, we ran a feature on Mr.Tyson as well on our SportsNet news show last night and, I think, we said that he still owed $40 million.
Hogan: Well, sell one of your 37 houses then! That'd be a pile of money. Didn't he have, like, six houses at one point?
Loubardias: I have no idea. Tigers, elephants...
Hogan: Did he have any elk?
Loubardias: I don't know...
Hogan: He probably ate them!
Loubardias: Yeah, raw! [Laughter]
Hogan: Well, as mentioned, Peter McNeeley is our next guest. A lot of people thought of him when they saw McBride Saturday night. I know you had Christine Simpson go down to Boston and do a long sitdown with Peter McNeeley for SportsNet and he joins us now. How are you doing, Peter?
Peter McNeeley: Good. How are you, sir?
Hogan: Very good. Mike Hogan here, along with Peter Loubardias. Did you get a chance to see the Tyson fight on the weekend?
McNeeley: I sure did.
Hogan: What did you think?
McNeeley: Well, short and simple, it was not the guy I fought ten years ago. The guy I fought was ready, ripped, rock-hard — and angry. I fought him right after he'd spent four years in jail and he didn't want to do anything else but fight. At the official weigh-in I weighed 224, he weighed 220. The actual fight time was some 36 hours later. They re-weighed us about an hour before the fight and we'd both lost about 4 pounds due to nervous energy: I was 220, he was 216. That's the Tyson that has speed. When he's over 226, he's too heavy for his height. Cardio-vascular conditioning is the key.
Loubardias: Peter, what was that experience like back then and what was the feeling that you had in the dressing room or walking down the tunnel into the ring to face him knowing that it was his first fight after he came out of jail? It had to be scary.
McNeeley: Well, for me, I'm scared before every fight. But that's healthy; I use it. There's an adage about the difference between a hero and a coward: It's what the hero does that makes him a hero. It's what the coward doesn't do that makes him a coward. My manager and I have a saying: you're either a gym fighter or a show fighter. I might not look that great in the gym, but when I go to a show I use that fear as a high, a motivator, and I step up. A lot of other guys step down. They're great in the gym, but when it's for real in front of a crowd, they tense up and step down a notch. My manager always says I'm a show fighter. When I was in the locker room that night, my friends couldn't believe how relaxed I was. On the day of the fight, I was in such great shape and so relaxed that I slept — I took a nap in the afternoon — which nobody would do. But I did [chuckles]. In the locker room I was laughing and joking because I knew I was ready. I was as ready as I was ever going to be. I always said, from the day the contract was signed, that I was going to go at him. You've got to back Mike Tyson up to win. I just didn't have the experience to keep him backed up.
Hogan: Peter, it was an event I think all sports fans — boxing fans were really looking forward to it — but I think all sports fans, even if they weren't a boxing fan, had at least a curiosity about that fight. I will never forget the staredown and the intensity of Mike Tyson looking at you when the referee was giving his instructions! You were joking around and having a great time before the fight. Was that the point where you went, 'Uh, oh!'?
McNeeley: Actually, my brother used to work for Showtime so he got me all the close-up footage from alternate camera angles, and you can see that I winked at him while he was doing his stare and I even blew a kiss at him... [Interviewers laugh] ...I was trying to mess with him a little right up until the last second, but it didn't really do me any good!
Loubardias: When you look back on it, what are your feelings on the fight? Obviously, you would have liked it to have lasted a little longer than it did.
Hogan: You were a really busy pro in your career before the Tyson fight.
McNeeley: I had 37 fights in 44 months.
McNeeley: Fighting once every five weeks. That's old school. I have to give the credit for that to my manager and trainer, Vinnie Vecchione.
Hogan: Would you do it differently — you weren't very busy after the Tyson fight. Would you have tried to capitalize a bit more on your name if you had it to do over?
McNeeley: Oh yeah, definitely. But I'm still not officially retired. I fight for the love of the game, but when you get right down to it, it is a business. My manager always tried to do whatever he could to make more money for us. I'm behind him.
Loubardias: What are your chances of fighting another fight?
McNeeley: Well, I'm hoping to fight this summer. I need a quick win to get any kind of a money fight. And we're hoping to fight — possibly locally — down here. Then, you never know, we might even come up to the Great White North. You never really know in this game. We often joke that you never know for sure you're going to fight until you walk into the ring.
Hogan: Yeah. If you have fought your last fight and you don't get another pro fight, what are you going to do for a living? How are you going to keep busy?
McNeeley: I really have no idea! This is what I've done for 14 years. I am presently working, but I really don't know what I want to do permanently. I had a resume made, but I didn't work a day job — I just boxed — for 10 years. I just started working again about 3 years ago. Just doing busy work to make some money. But I did buy my first home with the rest of the Tyson money.
Hogan: Oh, good! So it did work out that way. Congratulations.
McNeeley: Yeah, I've been living here a year June 1st. I bought a 2-bedroom condo. I'm right near all the major highways in the Boston area; I'm on the first floor and I've got a pool just across the street...it's a beautiful thing.
Hogan: Well, it worked out. Peter, thank you so much for joining us today. Stay healthy and I hope things work out for ya.
McNeeley: Thank you.
Hogan: Peter McNeeley, The Hurricane, who fought Tyson his first fight out of jail. A very highly publicized fight...Hopefully that has a happy ending to it.
Loubardias: Yeah, I hope it does, too.
Loubardias: I mean, he made a lot of money for that fight...
Hogan: Yeah, and it's nice to know he didn't waste it all. Because he's a professional fighter — that's what he does — and he hasn't fought in a few years...
Loubardias: That's a long time in that business.
Hogan: And there's no paycheck if you don't fight.
Loubardias: And he's not getting any younger...
Loubardias: Yeah, I've found that myself...
Hogan: He didn't fight very much after that and you would have thought they would have capitalized a lot more on the name. Because here it is, almost ten years after the fight, and we all know who Peter McNeeley is. Now, to a degree, there was a bit of a punchline there — no pun intended! ...
Hogan: But when people saw that Tyson was fighting Kevin McBride...and we didn't realize that Chris was going down to do the interview with McNeeley as well. David Cadeau, the producer, said, 'I saw McBride and I immediately thought of McNeeley.' So we tried to track down McNeeley. We tried to get him before the fight. Then I looked up over the weekend and saw that — ACK! Chris beat us to him! — but that's who I thought of. And, this time, McNeeley won, so to speak. And a lot of people are real happy about that.
Loubardias: Well, the neat thing for Peter — not that he ever reaps much benefit from it — I don't care what you do, if people are still talking about you ten years after you did it, obviously something went right.