Thursday, March 16, 1995

Pre-fight Fireworks Kindle McNeeley Bout

By Jay N. Miller
For The Patriot Ledger

REVERE — Peter McNeeley is spoiling for a fight. Now if they can only point him toward the right opponent.

Hill won't defend title at Worcester

WORCESTER — WBA light-heavyweight champion Virgil Hill won't be defending his title on the Don King Showtime card from the Worcester Aud tomorrow night.

Hill's opponent Duran Williams refused to fight Hill before April 1, which was the original date of their match on a card in Nevada.

Hill was in Worcester for yesterday's press conference and anxious to box someone after weeks of training.

The North Dakota native wore a black cowboy hat and chatted amiably with Brockton's Goody Petronelli, who's trying to get Hill to fulfill a 1994 contract to meet Randolph's Drake Thadzi.

"Hill agrees Drake should be the next opponent, and his manager Bill Sorenson also wants it to happen," Petronelli said, "but King has his contract now, and he's holding it up. Virgil's frustrated at being in training for so long without a bout."

Petronelli shrugged off the notion of Thadzi stepping in as a last-minute sub against the champion, who has defended his crown 18 times. "We'd need at least six weeks of work to prepare properly," Petronelli said. "It'd be foolish to go in against a guy like this on a couple days notice."


Yesterday's press conference introducing the principals in tomorrow night's Showtime boxing program at the Worcester Aud was enlivened by a podium melee involving the South Shore heavyweight and South Africa's Francois Botha, rated third in most world rankings.

Botha, 32-0, and McNeeley, 34-1, will fight in separate 10-rounders, but both are white sluggers well-hyped by the Don King organization.

The spontaneous fun started when Botha took the microphone and began extolling his own talents, and ridiculing McNeeley's. "It's time to declare war on the heavyweight division. I'm white, but I can fight," Botha boasted. "Anyone who wants the title has to come through the White Buffalo. I'm the real white contender here; the others are just pretenders."

"Don't come to my hometown and bad-mouth me," McNeeley growled from two seats away.

"I'll knock out my opponent Friday and then take care of you," Botha challenged.

"Why don't you see if you can knock me out now," McNeeley said, rising.

Before moderator Carl King and various handlers could intervene, Botha grabbed McNeeley's shirt and McNeeley fired a left hook. The punch just missed Botha but caught publicist Mike Marley over the right eye. After a 20-man scuffle succeeded in separating the combatants, the press soiree continued at a more laidback pace.

Later on McNeeley was still incensed. "He's trying to climb on top of our show," he fumed. "There's a guy who had 260 amateur fights, and he's been a pro five years and he still hasn't done anything. He had to come here, because he can't get paid to move furniture at home. He's just a blown-up cruiserweight with a big belly and chicken legs. And the worst part is he was kissing my ass two weeks ago at King's camp in Florida."

McNeeley is still slated to meet Danny Wofford, 15-39-2, of South Carolina, a wily trialhorse who's gone the distance with a litany of heavyweight stars, including Shannon Briggs, Michael Grant, Pinklon Thomas, and Trevor Berbick.

Tomorrow's card begins at 5 p.m., with the two title bouts plus five 10-rounders as well as prelims featuring local prospects Danny Phippen of Whitman and Mike Ohan of Holbrook. A limited number of tickets are still available at the 3,100 seat Aud in the $20, $40, and $75 price ranges.

Related articles:
McNeeley Gets His Irish Up Early   [The Middlesex Daily News]
McNeeley Scuffles With Foe At Press Conference   [Milford Daily News]
McNeeley Goes A Round, KOs Woeful Wofford   [The Boston Globe]
Showtime For McNeeley, Not Opponent   [The Suburban Press]

This story ran on page 33 of The Boston Patriot Ledger on 03/16/95