|Tuesday, September 27, 1994|
BIG BOUT FOR McNEELEY
Medfield fighter lands Garden date with McCall
By Stephen Tobey
Medfield's "Hurricane" Peter McNeeley against Mike Tyson? It could happen.
"I want Tyson," said McNeeley last night after learning he was Don King's choice to fight Oliver McCall for the WBC world heavyweight championship at Boston Garden in December. "That would be bigger than a title fight. I want to give it a go."
McNeeley was nowhere near Wembley Arena in London, England, on Saturday night, but when McCall knocked out Lennox Lewis in the second round to win the WBC world heavyweight championship, McNeeley was also a winner.
Today, McNeeley, 25, will step into King's New York office to sign a contract to fight the newly crowned champion for the title.
"Only in America, baby," McNeeley said. "Only in America can Peter McNeeley bring the heavyweight championship to the Garden."
A Garden bout would be the first world heavyweight championship fight in the venerable arena since 1940, when Joe Louis TKO'd Al McCoy in the sixth round. This is also the first world championship fight in Boston since 1990, when Mike McCallum defended his WBA middleweight title with a decision over Steve Collins in the Hynes Auditorium.
McNeeley is currently ranked 20th in the WBC's ratings, was one of three opponents King considered for McCall after he won the title. South African Frans Botha and Bruce Seldon, whom McCall has already beaten, were other names King considered.
McNeeley (30-1, 24 KOs) is the second in his family to fight for the world heavyweight championship. In 1961, his father, Tom McNeeley, Jr., fought Floyd Patterson in Toronto and was stopped in the fourth round.
McNeeley is also the third in his family to fight in the Boston Garden. His grandfather, Tom McNeeley, Sr. fought in the Garden's opening night in 1929.
"My grandfather opened the Garden and I'm going to close it," said McNeeley, who said he's met McCall and is confident he'll stand up to him.
"McCall knocked off the champion and now I've got the inside track," said McNeeley.
McCall, 29, is a former sparring partner for Tyson, who held the title from 1986-90. Tyson is currently serving a prison sentence in Indiana for a 1992 rape conviction. He is expected to be paroled in May of 1995 and after a few tuneup bouts, fight for a share of the title he once held.
If that happens, Tyson's attempt to regain the heavyweight championship could be the most lucrative sporting event ever.
McCall, who hails from Chicago, is one of two fighters generally recognized as heavyweight champion of the world. Michael Moorer holds the IBF and WBA titles and will defend those belts in November against 45-year-old former champion George Foreman.
(News sports writer Dan Miller contributed to this report.)
This story ran on page 1D of The Middlesex Daily News on 09/27/94