|Monday, September 20, 1993|
THE RIGHT STUFF
Peter McNeeley Now 21-0
By Tim Flaherty
It was Sept. 10th, 1993, and the location was Wonderland Raceway, turned battleground, in Revere, Mass. Peter McNeeley was about to fight his way to his 21st victory as a heavyweight boxing contender. His opponent was Juan Quintana of Holyoke, Mass. Peter McNeeley was sure that this fight would best demonstate his boxing potential. McNeeley's ability, endurance, and skills as a heavyweight were on the line. Wonderland's brightly lit neon signs and fixtures of blue and red contributed to the excitement.
Peter McNeeley had arrived at the ring with his entire boxing entourage, which included his father, Tom McNeeley, a former heavyweight contender of the early 1960's.
The packed crowd was growing anxious, as Juan Quintana was taking his time getting to the ring. Ten minutes had passed, and now the crowd was restless. Was Quintana doing this on purpose in order to frustrate the young McNeely? Was Quintana's psych job part of his strategy?
Finally, the fight announcer made a statement that alluded to Quintana's possible lack of courage and nerve. To be sure, this was a biased remark, but perhaps one that needed mentioning. At last, Quintana emerged from his enclave to a very cold reception from the crowd.
Peter McNeeley looked like an Irish Adonis - handsome, well-built, and in great condition. There was no fat on that body, just lean and mean! Juan Quintana was shorter in height than his opponent. He was stocky in comparison, with a mid-section that was wide and solid. From top to bottom, he was built like a tree trunk. His image reminded one of an updated 90's version of the Canadian heavyweight boxer, George Chuvalo. He was the fighter that Muhammad Ali once referred to as "the washer woman." Quintana appeared to possess a low center of gravity, something that Peter McNeeley would soon find out.
As the first round started, both fighters went to work immediately. The two fighters resembled two scorpions battling on a hot summer's day. With a circle dance, and a widening dervish taking place, the neon lights intensified the action.
Peter used the "stick and jab" style most of the time, while Quintana adopted a more defensive posture. Quintana was a more experienced and ring-wise fighter. Except for a below the belt punch from Quintana, the first round ended uneventfully.
The second round opened quickly, with Quintana attempting to establish a dominance. He tried unsuccessfully to pick up the pace with some good counterpunches. He fired off another low blow for which he was warned again. At that point, McNeeley began to sting Quintana's face with right jabs. Quintana began to cover up by using the "peek-a-boo" style reminiscent of heavyweight champion Floyd Patterson. Although this defensive style was resourceful, Quintana wasn't counterpunching at all.
In the third round Quintana seemed explosive and threw wild punches that never landed. He was warned yet again for low blows, while the harder-hitting McNeeley conserved on energy.
The fourth round opened with Quintana throwing a good body punch, and McNeeley throwing good right and left combinations. Quintana went back to the "peek-a-boo" style and then unleashed another body punch. But very little damage was done. Quintana appeared to be waiting for McNeeley to make a mistake, to leave himself open.
In the sixth and seventh rounds, McNeeley's heavy body punches began to take their toll. At that point, he made a distinct motion with his right hand, as if he were marking Quintana with an imaginary letter X. It reminded one of radar-like detection, a sign of the precision bombing that was about to take place figuratively. Quintana then reverted to his slow, plodding style with more punches missing the target. Near the end of the round, Quintana appeared to employ the crab-like style that was popular with another heavyweight champ, Ken Norton. Although this was an awkward style, it did little to deter the relentless McNeeley.
In the seventh round, Quintana started to fire out some solid punches, one of which struck McNeeley on the left jaw. Quintana looked like a frustrated man, a good trench soldier, a man who had fought a long and exhausting battle. By now, he looked old and beaten. Whereas McNeeley was still fresh and looking very confident.
As expected, with the eighth and final round, Quintana was all defense, with his right hand tucked tight against the right side of his face. As Quintana threw wildly and desperately with his left, McNeeley was landing hard shots and scoring points offensively. The bell sounded and the fight was over. But Quintana threw some cheap shots after the bell and the angered McNeeley defended himself. A crowd gathered with the two fight teams eventually separating the fighters. At last it ended cleanly.
In triumph, McNeeley won his 21st fight by a unanimous decision. He proved he had "the right stuff": the endurance, courage and ability to hold up under pressure.
An edited version of this article appeared on page 11D of The Middlesex Daily News on 09/20/93