|Monday, July 17, 1995|
Man-in-the-middle Boyd likes McNeeley's chances
By Bruce Brown
Who's going to win on August 19?
Will it be favorite Mike Tyson, who is spoiling for a fight after 3½ years in prison, or will it be Peter McNeeley, who has spent that time in the ring picking up wins and experience?
Opinions are plentiful, but one man has the inside track on how that heavyweight bout might go.
Lorenzo Boyd, a 30-year-old journeyman with a 30-14 lifetime record, is the only fighter to have faced both combatants in the ring as a pro.
He lost both bouts, lasting three rounds with Tyson in 1986 but just one round against McNeeley last November.
"I fought Tyson in June of 1986, just before he turned 21," said Boyd, who is in Lafayette to train with Beau Williford and to be part of a McNeeley exhibition July 31 at the Hotel Arcadiana.
"It was Tyson's third fight before he won the title from Trevor Berbick. We were both young, and he had the hype then. He was on a mission to be the youngest one to win the title, and I said I was going to try and stop that mission. I ended up just trying to live."
The book on the young Tyson was to avoid his bull rushes, to connect and keep moving. But Boyd threw the book away.
"I had worked with James "Quick" Tillis and I knew how to win the fight," said Boyd. "You had to stick and move. But, I got caught up in that macho thing with Tyson. Right before the fight in the corner, I told Beau I was going to back him up, and he said, 'Fine, I'll back up the ambulance.'"
Needless to say, the change in plans didn't work too well.
"I was going to jump on him, but I jumped right off," Boyd said with a rueful chuckle. "Tillis had showed the whole world how to beat him, and might have won if that fight hadn't been in New York.
"Then, later, Buster Douglas beat Tyson doing exactly that — stick and move. That's what haunts me to this day."
Moving might have worked for Boyd, who got a reputation as one who could get around the ring in a hurry.
"I was supposed to fight George Foreman in his first comeback fight," Boyd said, "but they called us back and said I ran too much."
Boyd, who has been with Williford for roughly 38 of his 44 pro fights, is trying to get back into the hunt. Ironically, his comeback began with Williford in McNeeley's corner with manager Vinnie Vecchione last November.
It was over in 1:28 of the first round.
"I started to move, and he jumped on me," Boyd said. "I tried a clinch, they separated us, and I thought I had time to move laterally, but he was there.
"I had all this experience, but he's a very busy fighter, to say nothing about his punch. Peter is probably the best unknown power fighter in the business. Tyson will knock you out with one punch, but Peter swarms you with power."
Williford saw a difference in Boyd after the two fights.
"In the Tyson fight," Williford said, "Tyson caught Lorenzo with an uppercut and the referee stopped it. It was the right decision, but Tyson didn't hurt him.
"Against McNeeley, Peter had him down three times. After the fight, Peter and I went to check on Lorenzo in the locker room, and his eyes were still glassy."
"I still don't know where that last punch came from, because I haven't seen the tapes," Boyd said.
So who should be the pick next month?
"Both of them will be in good condition," said Boyd, who plans to team with Garing Lane to help McNeeley in that direction. "But, if it's nasty attitude, Peter's got the edge.
"Before, Mike had the psychological edge on the whole world. But now, that's out the window. People are lining up to fight him. Peter's not shaken by the 'Tyson Mystique.'
"I'll loan you the money to bet on Peter. I saw it was listed as a 10-1 mismatch, but I don't know."
What will it take for McNeeley to negate those odds and win?
"(Sugar Ray) Leonard was the last one I saw who got back into the ring and didn't show any rust," Boyd said. "Tyson will try to whack you fast in the first four rounds. The distance is in favor of Peter.
"Peter's in great shape. He's got very strong legs, and your legs are where your punch comes from.
"Peter has been a busy fighter. To think that Tyson could take a three-year layoff and then train 2-3 months and be the same, I don't think so. Peter is a Top 10 fighter. Tyson is not going to misuse him. I don't think I'll like sparring with Peter."
Boyd will be training in Lafayette until McNeeley returns for the July 31 exhibition in which Boyd and Lane will work two rounds apiece, and the two will work with McNeeley in the final stages of preparation for the fight.
"I can imitate Tyson's style in camp, prepare Peter for that bob and weave," Boyd said. "This fight here is something he needs to get out of his way so he can have a title shot."
If Boyd's experience is any barometer — and if McNeeley can keep his cool — the fight may not be a mismatch at all.
This story ran on page D-3 of The Lafayette Daily Advertiser on 07/17/95