The Medfield Suburban Press
Thursday, March 23, 1995  

Showtime For McNeeley, Not Opponent


Peter McNeeley heard some boos from a few corners of the Worcester Memorial Auditorium Friday night, and he seemed slightly annoyed — responding immediately with one of the universal hand signals for defiance — but hardly surprised.

Following his first-round technical knockout of Danny Lee Wofford, McNeeley sounded as disappointed as everyone else, except maybe the really hard-core Hurricane faithful who ventured across the Rt. 495 boundary for Don King's St. Patrick's Day show.

But don't blame McNeeley. He did his part to entertain the crowd of more than 1,500 on hand for a pair of world championship fights. McNeeley knocked Wofford into the ropes late in the first round with a hard left-right combination after unloading a barrage of body shots into the ample midsection of his shorter, 230-pound opponent.

PETER McNEELEY, right, unloads on the wide target that was Danny Lee Wofford's waist line Friday night in Worcester.   (Staff photo by J. Kiely Jr.)

And don't blame the match-maker. The 33-year-old Wofford came into the bout with a less-than-stellar 14-40-2 record. Rather than mention Wofford's record, the ring announcer described him as a "veteran of 56 professional fights".

But, as McNeeley quickly pointed out following the fight, Wofford had gone at least half a dozen rounds with a host of top heavyweight contenders. Indeed, Wofford is generally known for his durability; he was still standing at the final bell in recent bouts against Michael Grant, Shannon Briggs, Bruce Seldon, Joe Hipp, and Trevor Berbick. He was TKO'd by Orlin Norris, but the end didn't come until the tenth round.

Friday night, however, one round with Peter McNeeley was more than enough for Wofford. He received a pummeling from McNeeley and was knocked down, but did manage to make it through the first three minutes of the scheduled ten-rounder. However, Wofford then declined to get off the stool for the second-round bell, claiming a head butt from McNeeley had done damage to his left eye. He clearly wanted nothing more to do with the Hurricane.

"Did he (Wofford) come to fight?," McNeeley asked rhetorically after the fight. "Did he throw any punches? What, three? If you were a fan and you were here watching, would you think that he had come to fight? No, he didn't come to fight."

The victory improved McNeeley's record to 35-1 with 29 knockouts. He's now scored seven straight first-round KOs.

As poorly as Wofford performed he was the first opponent of McNeeley's to make it through the first round since former WBC champion J.B. Williamson called it quits at the end of round two last June.

"He was dominated by a younger and stronger fighter who can pound with either his right or left hand and his best work is body shots," said Vinnie Vecchione, McNeeley's manager/trainer. "The bottom line is this: Nobody is going to stand up to those kind of body shots."

"He took the easy way out," McNeeley said of Wofford. "Would you have wanted to put up with ten rounds of that?

"What did I get out of the fight?," McNeeley repeated the questions posed to him by a reporter. "I got a 'W', that's what I got out of it — and I got it live on Showtime."

McNeeley's punches had taken their toll as Wofford took a knee before calling it quits after the first round.   (Staff photo by J. Kiely Jr.)

Not exactly...but close. Showtime, which broadcast the later Orlin Norris-Adolpho Washington and Julian Jackson-Agostino Cardamone championship fights live, showed a taped clip of McNeeley's fight. And while McNeeley's punching power was praised, the concensus of the Showtime commentators was similar to that of Worcester hecklers: McNeeley — or, more accurately, his management — needs to find better opponents.

A potential one is scheduled to get out of jail Saturday: former heavyweight champ Mike Tyson.

"Hey, he'll come to fight," said McNeeley when Tyson's name was brought up.

A report last week said negotiations were under way for a McNeeley-Tyson match this summer at Foxboro Stadium. Vecchione said there is some substance to that report.

The bottom line is this here: Right now negotiations are going on with the Kraft family [owners of Foxboro Stadium]," said Vecchione. "And if the negotiations continue and get to the next level, that's fine. We'll see what happens. It doesn't matter to us where the fight takes place. McNeeley will fight Tyson tomorrow."

"I'll fight anybody, anywhere," added McNeeley.

Related articles:
McNeeley Goes A Round, KOs Woeful Wofford   [The Boston Globe]
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 was published in the Medfield Suburban Press on 03/23/95.