McNeeley Stopped in Denmark
Boxing Notes/by George Kimball

Sunday, February 28, 1999

Oh, For Pete's Sake

Well, he was good while it lasted.

``Up until the time the referee stopped it, it was a pretty even fight,'' said manager Vinnie Vecchione of Peter McNeeley's third-round TKO loss to unbeaten heavyweight Brian Nielsen in Denmark two weeks ago. Nielsen, who was penciled in as Tyson's April 24 opponent before the latter was locked away, floored McNeeley once before the fight was stopped.

McNeeley's loss, coupled with ongoing contractual issues with America Presents, caused promoter Rich Cappiello to look elsewhere for his March 17 St. Patricks Day show at the Roxy, where Lowell junior welter Mickey Ward will now perform in the main event. The card will also showcase Maine junior middle Marcus Davis (vs. Alex Labriel of Providence), Southie welterweight Jimmy LaBlanc (vs. Rhode Islander Jose Mendez), a Bernard Gunderway-Jimmy Combs super-middle fight and bouts featuring Bridgewater heavyweight Najee Shaheed and Charlestown super-middle George Heckley.

Holyfield opens with verbal jabs

Say what you will about the heavyweights Lennox Lewis has and has not fought. This much is indisputable: Both Riddick Bowe and Mike Tyson gave up the WBC belt rather than get into the ring with him.

With the most anticipated heavyweight fight in 28 years still two weeks away, its participants are already warming to the task. Evander Holyfield, pronouncing himself Lewis' ``worst nightmare,'' is uncharacteristically predicting that he will knock out the WBC champion.

``It's not fair because he don't have a chance to win! Lennox is a good fighter, but I'm still gonna knock him out,'' said Holyfield. ``Now you just have to wait and see if Evander tells the truth, if the man of God is true. I've opened my mouth and now I have to knock him out.''

Said Emanuel Steward, Holyfield's erstwhile trainer who is now in Lewis' corner: ``With his size, I can't see anybody outboxing Lennox Lewis. Evander is going to have to work inside, and it's very hard to put pressure on a big man. Lennox is not just tall, he's strong. There's a difference between being tall and being big.''

Holyfield's stance is curious. He says he isn't boasting (``boasting is being proud and being arrogant''), but the usually humble WBA/IBF champion admits he is ``going out on a limb'' by predicting that he'll take Lewis out in the first three rounds.

On the other hand, Holyfield took the high road when confronted with Lewis' charges that he was ``hypocritical'' for pontificating on his religion while fathering children out of wedlock.

``People always try to find a reason to make themselves feel better about themselves,'' said Holyfield, who freely admits to having five children by four different women in addition to three by his first wife and another by his current one.

While - and take it from one who was there - Lewis was somewhat baited into the criticism, Holyfield said the revelations ``don't make me any smaller. The question is whether a person can overcome mistakes he's made, and I have. I'm not ashamed of what I've done.''

Reid goes for the gold

David Reid, the lone U.S. gold medalist from Atlanta, goes after Laurent Boudouani's WBA junior middleweight title in Atlantic City next Saturday night. Like De La Hoya (who won the only American boxing gold at Barcelona four years earlier), Reid's title shot comes in his 12th professional bout.

Reid this week described the upcoming fight as ``the turning point of my life,'' and he is probably right. Although the challenger is a 4-1 favorite, Boudouani is no slouch and owns two wins over Javier Castillejo, the WBC 154-pound titlist.

Garza hurts hand

WBA junior feather Nestor Garza injured a right hand in training and has been scratched from next Saturday's Top Rank card on Univision. Antonio Diaz will now fight Mexico's Juan Carlos Rodriguez in the main event, with welters Ray Lovato and Daniel Santos in the co-feature from Indio, Calif. On yet another Saturday night card, Don King has IBF junior flyweight champ Will Grigsby fighting 4-5-1 Anis Roga (and WBA No. 1heavyweight Henry Akinwande vs. TBA) from Minneapolis on USSB.

Undefeated Hartford heavyweight Lawrence Clay-Bey (9-0), who underwent bone graft surgery to repair the third metacarpal on his left hand four weeks ago, is hoping to return to the ring by June.

Happy Birthday, Ray ``Boom-Boom'' Mancini.