McNeeley enjoys break from intense training session here
By STEVE BANDY
Peter McNeeley is wrapping up an eight-day training session in hot and humid Southwest Louisiana in preparation for his August 19 heavyweight battle against Mike Tyson at the MGM Grand Hotel in Las Vegas.
McNeeley was in Rayne Tuesday night, along with his manager, Vinnie Vecchione; trainer, Beau Williford; and sparring partner, Garing Lane, for a barbecued steak supper at the home of Mike Shoffiett. The hospitality fell right in line with what McNeeley has been experiencing since his arrival at Lafayette Regional Airport last Thursday.
"The people here have welcomed me with open arms," said McNeeley. "Everyone's been really nice to me since we got here."
The 6-2 fighter, who weighed 225 when he arrived but has admitted that, although he has been training hard, he has gained a little weight since last Thursday — "and you ask me if I like the food?" — will be leaving Acadiana Friday for a publicity tour prior to the fight. He will return for a final tune-up around the beginning of August.
A native of Medfield, Mass., and a graduate of Bridgewater University (Mass.) with a degree in Political Science and History, McNeeley has an impressive family history in the boxing arena.
His grandfather, Tom McNeeley, was a member of the 1928 Olympic boxing team and was featured in the first fight for the grand opening of Boston Gardens. His father, Tom II, fought Floyd Patterson for the Heavyweight Championship of the World in 1961 — he knocked Patterson down but eventually lost the title bout.
Peter didn't even know about his father's fight with Patterson until he was climbing around in the attic one day and found an old Sports Illustrated with his picture on the cover," says Williford.
But family history means little when you climb into the ring with the likes of Mike Tyson. Peter, however, is no slouch himself. He has done plenty in his own career, flooring 21 opponents in the first round and including 30 knockouts in his 36-1 pro worksheet.
"In my experience, no one else has his desire," says Vecchione, who has been with McNeeley for five years. "He's never missed a day in the gym. Whatever talent may be missing, he has made up for it with hard work."
McNeeley's trip to South Louisiana was planned to break the routine of his regular training — and to get some heat, something that's plentiful here in July. That, and humidity.
"Las Vegas is very hot these days," McNeeley says. "In eight days here I'll get used to the heat. And, since Las Vegas isn't humid like it is here, that should be an advantage."
McNeeley, who has fought 37 fights in 44 months, feels he is ready for his Aug. 19 fight and has consistenty predicted an early victory over Tyson.
Williford sounds just as confident.
"Peter is in the best shape of his life. Tyson is as rusty as an old nail," says Williford. "Four years is a long time to go without really getting hit."
And Peter will have more than his fair share of support "in his corner" the night of the fight.
"We'll all be here rooting for you," said host Mike Shoffiett. "We'll be hollering so loud you'll probably hear us all the way in Vegas."
This story ran on page 2B of The Rayne Acadian-Tribune on 07/13/95