|Thursday, August 19, 1993|
McNeeley Body Work Gets 20th Win
By LARRY BEAN
He wasn't WBO heavyweight champion Tommy Morrison. And Brooklyn's Roberto Perez definitely wasn't ready, willing, or able to go the distance with "Hurricane" Peter McNeeley.
In front of a packed house, McNeeley, who last month was offered $150,000 to fight Morrison, upped his unblemished professional record to 20-0 when Perez was unable to answer the bell for the third round Saturday night at the Whitman National Guard Armory.
The knockout was No. 17 for the 24-year-old McNeeley.
"I'm pretty sure the kid himself packed it in," said McNeeley. "I saw him wave the glove in his trainer's face while he was sitting in his corner.
"I was a little irritated that the fight was stopped," he continued. "I wanted to get to him a little more."
Whether it was Perez himself, his manager or his mother - whoever made the decision to call it quits after two rounds made the right call for Perez. Powerful body blows by McNeeley had already sent Perez down twice in the fight, and the Hurricane looked like he was just getting warmed up.
Perez, who weighed in just under 200 pounds, outmaneuvered McNeeley in the early going, but the shots he was able to land had little, if any, effect on the 214-pound McNeeley.
McNeeley, meanwhile, was taking aim at Perez's head in the opening minutes of the fight. But Perez, who entered the ring with a 9-3 record, was quick enough to duck away from any direct hits.
"He did get a couple shots in on me but he was throwing his best stuff and nothing was happening," said McNeeley. "That took a lot out of him mentally."
Nonplussed by the furtive jabs of his elusive foe, the iron-fisted Hurricane continued to press the attack.
With a crunching left to the ribs, followed by a stiff right uppercut, McNeeley soon began to take a physical toll on Perez, sending him to the canvas for the first time midway through the first round. A right to the ribs, followed by a hard left to the head left a dazed Perez sitting helplessly on the bottom rope in the closing seconds of Round 2.
The enthusiastic crowd roared with approval. The bell rang to signal the end of the round - and, as it soon turned out, the fight itself.
The fight was announced as a third round technical knockout victory for McNeeley, although Perez never actually fought any of the third round.
"I think I scared him with my power," said McNeeley. "He started out in a flurry but he came down a few notches in the second round. I don't think he wanted to fight me anymore because he knew he was going to have even less speed than he had in the first two rounds.
"Talent-wise, he was probably the best fighter I've fought but he lacked the mental toughness."
McNeeley said that after the fight, his manager, Vinnie Vecchione, and his father, Tom, chatted with Perez, trying to gauge how McNeeley would match up against the New York-area heavyweights Perez has been fighting.
"He (Perez) said he had never been hit so hard in his career," reported McNeeley.
"This was a good fight. It's just what we needed," said McNeeley. "It was a different look rather than just another stiff. I was glad that we got somebody of that quality.
"This fight shows that I've come a long way with my defense, but it also shows that I'm not ready to step up with the Morrisons. I need more time, more maturing, more experience."
McNeeley will add some experience Sept. 10 when he takes on wily Juan Quintana, a 225-pounder out of Holyoke, at Wonderland Race Track in Revere.
McNeeley's fight will be part of a live undercard that will precede the closed-circuit telecast of the Julio Caesar Chavez-Pernell Whitaker match.
Quintana's resume includes fights against Razor Ruddock and Alex Stewart.
"He'll be a really good opponent," McNeeley said of Quintana. "He's not too fast, not too busy. In five rounds he'll probably throw half the punches that Perez threw in two rounds.
"He's a veteran. He's very confident, very relaxed. He'll be content to throw jabs all night. But if you aggravate him, he'll fight back," said McNeeley.
"I could have an easy night if I wanted to, but I like to go right in there."
This story was published in the Medfield Suburban Press on 08/19/93.