McNeeley Ends Foe's Dream In 25 Seconds

Monday, June 19, 2000

By Jay N. Miller
For The Patriot Ledger

Click here for more pictures from the fightJoe Siciliano's "Walter Mitty night" in the ring came crashing down roughly 25 seconds after it began. That's the point at which Peter McNeeley landed a solid left hook and Siciliano, a member of the Leominster Police Tactical Drug Unit, went over backward, landing on his shoulders and banging his head off the canvas.

That was the end of Siciliano's dream of making some noise as a professional heavyweight for all intents and purposes, but the rotund 5-10, 266-pound cop scrambled up at the count of five and waded into deep waters again. Siciliano would slip twice in the next few seconds as he clutched and wrestled McNeeley, but neither was ruled a knockdown.

Siciliano's best move came about a minute into the fight, when he sumo-wrestled McNeeley against the ropes and caught the experienced pro in a headlock, which included the top rope. When matters returned to boxing, Siciliano fared much worse and another left hook dropped him for a three count.

Click here for more pictures from the fightFinally, as McNeeley's left jab punished him yet again, Siciliano tried to throw a counter right and McNeeley inserted a textbook right cross that caught the novice rushing in. Siciliano tumbled facedown and lay motionless for several moments. But incredibly, after referee Dick Flaherty reached the 10-count, Siciliano struggled up, even though he soon fell back into the ropes and hung there panting with a glazed look.

McNeeley, now 47-5 (36 Knockouts), said later that he'd intended to take things slowly and get some work in. He didn't directly say he was going to carry his inexperienced foe, but the inference seemed clear. A prefight dispute between McNeeley's handlers and promoters, and Brockton promoter Rich Cappiello, got under the boxer's skin however and, when Capiello led Siciliano into the ring, McNeeley saw red. "I wanted to try and get some rounds in," McNeeley said, "because people say I've got too many first round knockouts and I need the work. But seeing him in the opposing corner infuriated me, and I said screw it, I'm knocking him out right away."

The affable Siciliano, whose popularity in his hometown helped deliver a sell-out crowd at the Leominster Armory, was the unwitting victim of the bad blood. "Joe has been nothing but a pleasure to work with," McNeeley said, "and he's obviously a class guy. He can really take a punch, and he was willing to get up every time, which shows you his courage and heart. Unfortunately we're in a 'hurt' business, and my instincts took over."

Click here for more pictures from the fightMcNeeley manager Vinnie Vecchione of Braintree said they are considering a bout in England next, and talk of a Larry Holmes comeback fight is still alive. "Peter was in good shape, down to 227 from 242 pounds when he started," Vecchione noted. "We never took this guy lightly because anytime a guy that big hits you it's dangerous. We wanted Peter to get more work, but he was a very upset guy going into this one, and he has a heckuva left hook."

The lengthy undercard featured several local boxers. Whitman middleweight Danny Phippen went to 21-0 with a second round knockout of Toledo's Randy McGee, ten pounds heavier and much taller. "I realized he was a southpaw when the bell rang," Phippen smiled later. "I had some problems in that first round, but kept my composure and picked him apart."

Weymouth heavyweight Dan Conway spent a round chasing elusive James Holly of Cleveland, and then dumped him with a right hand at 1:54 of round two. Conway goes to 11-3.

Plymouth boxing trainer Mark Vaz was on hand, with three pospects from the Miami stable he now works with. Most prominent among them was lightweight contender Lamar Murphy, 26-4, who floored Ohio's Alonzo Sojourney three times in round one. The last time McNeeley and Murphy fought on the same card was August 19, 1995, when The Hurricane met Mike Tyson, and Murphy lost a close decision to WBC lightweight champion Miguel Angel Gonzalez.

See also:  McNeeley KOs Siciliano In First Round [The Worcester Telegram] and the complete fight card report from Fight News.

This story ran on page 22 of The Boston Patriot Ledger on 06/19/00