McNeeley goes a round

TKO's woeful Wofford

By Ron Borges, Globe Staff, 03/16/95

WORCESTER, MA — Peter McNeeley didn't take St. Patrick's Day off, but he didn't exactly work overtime in ridding himself of Danny Lee Wofford. In fact, he didn't even come close to working a full shift.

HEAVYWEIGHT BOXER PETER McNEELEY It was one round and out as Medfield heavyweight Peter McNeeley easily disposed of Danny Lee Wofford.   (Globe Staff File Photo/Jim Davis)

When the Medfield boxer arrived at the Worcester Auditorium, he believed that the 33-year-old Wofford would give him at least a half dozen rounds of work, something Wofford had done for every heavyweight from Shannon Briggs to Bruce Seldon to Joe Hipp to Ray Annis to Trevor Berbick. He was the best of both worlds: a durable heavyweight with little chance of victory.

Five hammering shots to the rib cage of a man who stands 5 feet 9 inches and weighs 230 pounds ended that plan. McNeeley jumped on Wofford with his usual wild-eyed enthusiasm and, midway through the opening round, poured home a series of body blows to the suet, and Wofford collapsed helplessly to the canvas like a side of beef. After rising like a dirigible slowly filling with helium, Wofford stumbled to his corner at the end of Round 1 and retired for the night. It should be for longer.

"We were expecting Wofford to do what he normally does: hang tough and put up an effort," said Beau Williford, who has been co-training McNeeley along with manager Vinnie Vecchione. "Obviously, he didn't want to do that tonight. Peter hit him with some thunderous body punches, and he folded. The kid can hit."

Danny Wofford's vaunted durability was not in evidence Friday night. The South Carolinan has been used as a trialhorse for a slew of rising young heavyweights and was still standing at the final bell when he fought Briggs, Seldon, Hipp, Berbick, Michael Grant, and Pinklon Thomas. Although he has been stopped before -- Bonecrusher Smith scored a seventh round TKO and Oliver McCall put him away in five -- Wofford was only able to withstand one round of punishment at the hands of McNeeley.

The quick end angered many in the crowd, several of whom were attacking McNeeley more aggressively than Wofford had managed.

"This is a joke!" one fan crowed from the balcony. "You gotta be kidding me! I hope they ain't taking pictures of this. You guys stink!"

When McNeeley heard the latter comment, he turned in the patron's direction, spread his arms wide as Wofford continued to sit on his stool complaining of a bad eye and barked, "You talking to me, toothless? You're going places, right?"

While McNeeley's heckler may not be headed anywhere, it was difficult to tell where a victory like last night's was going to take the "Hurricane". McNeeley, who upped his record to 35-1 with 29 knockouts, showed impressive punching power, but that is one thing about the young heavyweight that has never been in doubt. While victory was far preferable to a loss to such a man as the woeful Wofford, whose record shrank to 14-41-2, not even McNeeley was terribly thrilled by what had just occurred.

"I got something out of this," McNeeley said. "I got a 'W'. Was he awkward or wasn't he? Did he come to fight? No, he didn't come to fight. That was obvious.

"I think he got scared when I hit him with the body shots. He's a guy who's been down a long road. Would you want to put up with 10 rounds of those body shots?"

Apparently Wofford didn't want to put up with even two rounds of them, which is what had McNeeley's fans peeved. Wofford's explanation that an inadvertent McNeeley thumb to the eye had so bothered his vision he could not go on did not soothe them any, especially since 75 percent of McNeeley's punches hit him in the paunch.

"I got hit in the eye," Wofford said. "I couldn't see. That's why I quit. But McNeeley's decent, I'll give him that. He's got a hell of a punch."

What was indecent was Wofford's performance, not to mention his conditioning (if round is a condition). It didn't help the crowd's humor any when minutes later Francois Botha, the World Boxing Council's No. 3-ranked heavyweight contender and a man McNeeley had rumbled with at a press conference earlier in the week, knocked out a hapless Brian Sargent in less than a round to push his record to 33-0 in equally distasteful fashion. Again the audience jeered.

As Botha stood over the fallen Sargent, McNeeley stared at him from an elevated stage at the back of the Aud and snorted, "I'd fight him anywhere. When I slapped him the other day, how long did those bongo drums of his go? Those drums got hidden pretty fast."

Most of the people in the Aud wished Wofford had gone with them.

Related articles:
Showtime For McNeeley, Not Opponent   [Suburban Press]
McNeeley Gets His Irish Up Early   [The Middlesox Daily News]
McNeeley Scuffles With Foe At Press Conference   [Milford Daily News]
Pre-fight Fireworks Kindle McNeeley Bout   [Boston Patriot-Ledger]

This story ran on page 77 of The Boston Globe on 03/18/95