|Wednesday, July 13, 1994|
WBC ranking launches McNeeley into national spotlight
By Bob Buckley
WHITMAN — If you need lottery tickets you might want to send Peter McNeeley to the store. There are very few people on a better streak at the moment.
The world keeps on getting better for the pride of the South Shore Boxing Club. One month after signing a four-year deal with Don King Productions, McNeeley has broken into the national boxing scene in the heavyweight division.
The World Boxing Council announced its most recent rankings on Tuesday and McNeeley was ranked 20th. It was the first time in McNeeley's career that he has received national attention from any of the major boxing coalitions.
"I'm completely ecstatic," said McNeeley from the South Shore Boxing Club. "I have worked for this for a long time. It's always been a goal of mine."
McNeeley is 28-1 as a professional and he has won his last four fights, including a second-round knockout of former champion J.B. Williamson at Foxboro last month. His only loss was the result of a severe cut suffered in a fight against Brockton's Stanley Wright for the New England heavyweight championship last February.
The McNeeley team of trainer Vinnie Vecchione and SSBC director has been criticized in the past about the quality of some of McNeeley's opponents. Vecchione has stated on a number of occasions that he was bringing McNeeley along slowly since McNeeley had a very limited amateur career.
It appears to be a plan that has worked.
"The (McNeeley) team just kept on grinding," said Phippen after the WBC announcement. "He has just kept working in the gym, day after day, year after year. We have been putting on shows all over the place and working with him any way we could. Peter has always had a great deal of potential. Something like this makes all the work worthwhile."
McNeeley will be in action next on July 22 as the headliner of a nine-fight card at Memorial Hall in Plymouth. The SSBC heavyweight will fight Bobby Crabtree, a well-tested veteran heavyweight. Crabtree has a career record of 50-20 and has fought six major heavyweight contenders including George Foreman.
"I look at it like this: I have 19 rungs on the ladder in front of me," said McNeeley. "I feel we are just hitting the big time. I have been watching and following these rankings for the last 15 years. Now I'm in those rankings and it is just an unbelievable feeling."
Phippen stated he believed that since McNeeley is now recognized on a national level, his next step into stardom may not be far off.
"I think if we do what we are supposed to do and follow the schedule Vinnie and I have put together, we could be in line for a title shot within nine to 12 months," said Phippen. "Once he gets into the top 15, he could be a perfect contender for a heavyweight champion."
McNeeley, for one, is welcoming the challenge. He is very tired of hearing about the lack of quality competition.
"Whoever I fight is up to Vinnie and Cliff," said McNeeley. "I want to be in those tough situations against the toughest fighters I can face."
Phippen downplayed the reports in the New York Post that Don King will be indicted for insurance and tax fraud. The Post reported on Tuesday that King is expected to be indicted next week on the charges.
"I really don't think it will have too much of an affect on the (McNeeley-King) agreement," said Phippen. "From what I gather, it is a book-keeping situation and has no impact on his fighters."
The Post reported that the probe of King's finances began more than two years ago when his former chief financial officer Joseph Maffia filed civil affidavits against King and has been cooperating with the Manhattan U.S. Attorney's office. King has filed countercharges against Maffia.
This story was published on Page 27 of The Brockton Enterprise on 07/13/94.