Saturday, February 19, 1994

WRIGHT SURVIVES BLOODIED McNEELEY FOR NEW ENGLAND CHAMPIONSHIP

McNeeley Wins Every Round But Loses Fight On Cut


By RON BORGES

What Peter McNeeley really needed last night was a Red Cross blood bank.

McNeeley started the night as the hottest heavyweight prospect in New England, undefeated in 24 fights with 17 ending by knockout. His fortunes didn't change for more than seven rounds in a New England heavyweight title fight that he was clearly dominating against 6-foot-10-inch, 278-pound Stanley Wright at the Westin Hotel in downtown Boston.

But when the winds of change began to blow they came quickly and savagely, hitting with the unexpected fury of a sudden hailstorm.

One minute there were blue skies and McNeeley was coasting along, winning every round with ease. The next minute everything was an angry red and he had been reduced to a bloody mess after a combination midway through Round 8 tore open a cut over his left eye that originally was opened in the fifth round.

With blood streaming down his face, McNeeley looked toward his corner with a stunned look. A wide streak of crimson was smeared across his eye and down his cheek.

Referee Bob Benoit leaped in with a look on his face nearly as surprised as McNeeley's before giving the young heavyweight a standing eight count in his corner. As he did, ring doctor Joel Solomon stepped onto the apron and asked to examine the cut. One look and he shook his head firmly, despite being surrounded by McNeeley's screaming cornermen.

"He's way ahead on points," yelled Cliff Phippen, McNeeley's cut man and the director of the South Shore Boxing Club, where McNeeley trains. "You can't stop it. He's way ahead. Let it go."

Ignoring the cacophony, the good doctor showed the wisdom of Solomon, stopping the bout at 1:49 of the eighth round and handing McNeeley his first loss and Wright (9-5) the New England title in stunning fashion as the shocked crowd roared with disapproval.

The battered Wright hardly looked the winner, having had his nose broken in the first round by a McNeeley uppercut and having clearly lost every round thereafter as he repeatedly was belted from ring post to ring post by his much smaller opponent.

"I know if it had gone to 10 rounds he would have won," Wright said. "He was way ahead. I had to take him out. But when I saw the cut eye I felt that was it. He's a tough guy. But I'd never seen anyone bleed like that before."

McNeeley refused to talk after the bout. But his manager, Vinny Vecchione, still was angry that a bout in which his fighter led by wide margins on all three cards had come to such an abrupt halt.

"I didn't want it stopped," Vecchione said. "Peter was way ahead. The guy pushed him down once. He was digging into the cut with his glove. It will need some stitches, but we should have had a chance to finish the fight."

Without question McNeeley was completely controlling the action when Solomon stepped in. But to argue that Solomon had any other choice but to stop the bout was to refuse to see the obvious.

From the outset McNeeley had pounded away at Wright with nasty body shots and a ripping uppercut that often left his challenger covering up and unwilling to punch. With his nose broken and puffy, Wright was having trouble breathing. He was staggered repeatedly by McNeeley's powerful blows but managed to cover up and somehow avoid being knocked out.

But McNeeley's troubles began early in the fifth round when he was first cut and they ended in the eighth after Wright landed a blow flush on the wound. McNeeley covered briefly then again went after his towering foe. Wright's target was obvious, however. He managed to get in with a left hand along McNeeley's eye that opened a huge gash and his night's work was finished.

See also:   McNeeley's N.E. Title Bid Cut Short   [The Suburban Press]


This story ran on page 81 of the Boston Globe on 02/19/94.