Ten Years After: McNeeley Reflects on Tyson-McBride

By Stephen Tobey (June 11, 2005)
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Peter McNeeley

Almost 10 years ago, Peter McNeeley was in Kevin McBride's shoes, but that's not to say he empathizes with him.

During the buildup to Saturday's fight between McBride and Mike Tyson, McBride and his handlers tried to distance themselves from any comparisons with McNeeley, and some of the remarks they made did not sit well with Tyson's first post-prison opponent.

"When Kevin fought Kevin Montiy on ESPN2, he said some [expletive] about me," said McNeeley, who fought Tyson in August of 1995 and was disqualified in the first round after his manager, Vinnie Vecchione, went into the ring to stop the fight. "Maybe he should be worried about himself.

"I saw a big article with Packie Collins [one of McBride's trainers] talking about me. Who has he ever trained? I like Packie and his brother, Steve, but what camps has Packie ever run?"

According to McNeeley, McBride also has plenty to be worried about with Tyson in spite of Tyson not being what he used to be.

"Tyson's not the same fighter," said McNeeley, who said he has sparred with McBride twice. "When I fought him, I was 224 and he was 220, ripped, mean and rock-hard. [McBride] is not fighting the same guy I fought.

"But he's a big kid and Tyson has a history of fighting well against tall fighters. Lou Savarese was a way better fighter than he is and he didn't last as long as I did. I was watching a tape of my fight with Tyson and I was able to get low against him, almost as low as he was and I made him miss. McBride is a big, wide target."

After he fought Tyson, McNeeley was a pretty big target himself, with bar patrons and late-night talk show hosts taking most of the shots. In his first fight after facing Tyson, fans in the FleetCenter in Boston pelted him with pizza slices, mocking an ad he did for Pizza Hut, after he knocked out Mike Sam in two rounds.

McNeeley said he has no regrets about facing Tyson.

"I had a lot of fun doing it," said McNeeley. "Maybe I was a little too excited, but I took my shot.

"I remember two things: I had 37 fights in four years to get there and I was in great shape. Tyson also did three interviews and I did a lot more. People joked that I set a record for doing the most interviews in the shortest time."

McNeeley did not go away after fighting Tyson. He faced Eric "Butterbean" Esch, Henry Akinwande and Brian Nielsen. His last fight was on June 8, 2001 when Mike Bernardo stopped him in South Africa and he has a record of 47-7 with 36 knockouts.

Since then, McNeeley has held several jobs and bought a condominium in Norwood, Mass., not far from his hometown of Medfield. He said he still trains occasionally and is staying sober. He also hopes to fight again.

"I'm not officially retired," said McNeeley. "I've had a lot of offers. I'm 36 and I've had 54 pro fights. I have to finish it up, but if something does not happen by Oct. 6 [when he turns 37] I'll retire."

McNeeley said Vecchione will try to get him a comeback fight in the Boston area and that he may fight overseas.

He plans on watching Tyson and McBride on Saturday. He doesn't have any advice for McBride, but he does have something to say to him.

"I like Kevin, but he shouldn't be talking [expletive] about me 10 years later," he said. "He should worry about himself. Do better than I did, then you can talk [expletive] if you still feel the need."

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