|Thursday, July 28, 1994|
After 1st-Round KO, Hurricane Eyes Next Level
By LARRY BEAN
Peter McNeeley may have looked too good for his own good Friday night, because instead of celebrating his first-round knockout victory, he and his manager, Vinnie Vecchione, were forced to defend it.
"If people aren't happy with the opponent, I'll take the responsibility, not the fighter," said Vecchione, responding to questions concerning the ability of Dwayne Hall, who was knocked down four times in the first round before the referee stopped the fight at the 2:25 mark. "Eight months ago, he [Hall] went six rounds with Peter. How were we supposed to know this was going to happen?"
With the knockout, the 23rd of his career, McNeeley improved his record to 29-1. Friday's fight, in a steamy Plymouth Memorial Auditorium, marked the fifth straight outing in which the Hurricane has stopped an opponent inside the second round.
"He was leading with his head," said McNeeley, who came into Friday's fight ranked No. 20 in the world by the World Boxing Council. "He had his head exposed so I figured I might as well take the head shots."
In November, Hall lost a six-round unanimous decision to McNeeley. Hall's best round that night at Foxboro Park was the fifth, which he split on the judge's scorecards. Friday, however, Hall was knocked to his knees less than 30 seconds after the opening bell had sounded.
"I didn't want to give him a chance to get warmed up," said McNeeley.
However, it was Hall's appearance as the opponent rather than McNeeley's crushing left hooks that was the primary topic of the post-fight Q-and-A session.
Apparently, Hall, whose record was listed at 16-5 prior to the bout, had been indefinitely suspended by the Connecticut boxing commission in May after losing his last fight.
Vecchione, fight promoter Jack Buckley, the Massachusetts boxing commission representative at the fight, and even Hall himself, all said they didn't know about the suspension.
Vecchione did say that Hall was not his first choice for Friday's fight. He had tried to line up the 49-27-1 veteran Bobby Crabtree as an opponent for McNeeley. In fact, most of the reporters covering the fight were surprised to see Hall's name and not Crabtree's listed on the program.
But the Crabtree deal had fallen through when he got an offer to stay home in Arkansas and face former WBC champion Trevor Berbick for more money than he would have made in Plymouth.
"He [Crabtree] got a bigger and better offer," said McNeeley. "What are you going to do? Someday that will happen to me and I'll do the same thing that Crabtree did."
With Crabtree out of the picture and limited time and funds available to lure a replacement to Plymouth, Vecchione and Buckley got Hall to make the trip down from his hometown of Rochester, NY.
"There just aren't enough fighters to go around," said Vecchione, conceding that Hall didn't meet the expectations he had created nine months ago. "It's time now to step up and go to the bigger shows."
Vecchione was planning to meet with Don King yesterday in Fort Lauderdale and start lining up some fights as part of the four-year promotional deal he and McNeeley signed with King last month.
King was indicted for insurance fraud last week, but Vecchione feels confident his new business partner will be exonerated.
"If Don King was worried [about the charges] would he have gone out and spent all that money to get Carbajal?" Vecchione asked.
Three days before his indictment, King signed Michael Carbajal, the newly crowned World Boxing Organization junior flyweight champion, to a two-year, five-fight deal that could bring Carbajal as much as $4.5 million in purses.
Trying to refocus some attention back on McNeeley and the action that had taken place in the ring, Vecchione added, "I don't even want to use the last name, but Peter is as close to a guy named Rocky as you can get. That's the type of fighter he is. But he's vulnerable at times, because the kid is a banger. He fears nobody. You can never question his courageousness."
This article was published on Page 15 of The Suburban Press on 07/28/94