September 18, 2003 Boston's Hurricane On The 'CanesRyan Burke EagleAction.com Staff Writer
Miami and Isabel can't compare to
This weekend is the culmination of many forces of nature. We have young men
going head-to-head in a nationally televised football game. We have thousands
of passionate fans descending upon Chestnut Hill to cheer on their respective
sides. And we have Hurricanes.
The Boston College football team faces their biggest test of the year
as the mighty Miami Hurricanes blows into town. We also have Hurricane Isabel
sweeping up the East Coast about to wreak havoc. What does this all mean for
Saturday's clash? Who fully understands the powers of these two forces? How
about another Hurricane. A local one.
Hurricane Peter McNeeley.
I caught up with McNeeley this week to discuss the game this weekend,
the forces of nature, and the task of facing a mighty, seemingly insurmountable
opponent. McNeeley definitely knows the latter.
McNeeley is a local guy who grew up in Medfield, fighting his way to a
glossy record that set him up to face Mike Tyson Tyson's first
bout after his release from prison. We all know what happened in that one round
of boxing, but McNeeley, the epitome of an underdog, forever etched his name in
Before drawing on McNeeley's perspective on the game, I first wanted
to establish his credibility related to Boston College. First, is he a fan?
"Of course I am!," McNeeley enthusiastically replied.
The last time BC was able to overcome Miami was the infamous Flutie pass.
"I was watching it live on my ma's couch in Medfield."
When asked if he has any affiliation with BC locally, his response was
"You know how many times I have run around that #@#!*# reservoir? That
reservoir got me in shape for a lot of fights."
I never knew.
Now that we know our own Hurricane has BC loyalty, BC history, and some
BC sweat to his name, we can better understand his perspective on this weekend's
football storm at the Heights. He also dated a BC graduate for almost eight
years. (Add experience to the above list.)
Wait....the name!? How does an Irish kid from Massachusetts get the
nickname of a powerful force of nature? (Of course I asked.)
Both McNeeley's father and grandfather fought under the name "Irish
Tom." Like every other boxer, McNeeley was searching for an appropriate
nickname early in his career. On the eve of his first professional fight,
August 23, 1991, Hurricane Bob was rolling into the Northeast. Usually not a
problem for a boxing match, but McNeeley's fight was outside at Nickerson
field. (How is BU's football squad this year anyway?)
McNeeley fought that day, outside, and ever since he has been known as
Hurricane Peter McNeeley. (Warning: do NOT screw up the order of his name.....I
learned the hard way.)
After a pro career that featured an unbelievable number of first round
knockouts and a short bout versus Tyson, McNeeley is back to being an everyday
Boston local. He lives in town, spends his time with various charities (most
recently with Make-A-Wish Foundation), teaches boxing classes (Boston Sports
Club on Newbury Street), and is still not retired from fighting.
"I am not officially retired, and let me tell you, the phone is still
ringing," he said in his thick local accent, still brimming with confidence.
For all of McNeeley's endeavors, he will nonetheless forever be known
as the guy who fought Mike Tyson. That is where his name was made, and that is
his place in history. Like BC this weekend, McNeeley was an underdog. A big one.
As McNeeley will attest, preparing to face a dominant opponent, on a
national stage, is a mentally challenging task. What advice does he give to the
BC players who are going through the preparations, physically and mentally, to
face Miami on ESPN Saturday night?
"Never let the event take over."
I don't think head coach Tom O'Brien could say it better. This
advice will take on significant importance to the young BC players who have not
experienced a game of this magnitude or exposure.
"You go out and practice hard, and you have a great practice, and you
get that game face on, and then you bring that game face to the Show. You bring
it to the Show!"
I am getting fired up at this point.
Whatever you say about Peter McNeeley's performance against Tyson, you
cannot dispute the courage it took him to get into the ring with a recently
released madman.....I mean, Tyson.
At this point, McNeeley was rolling and I wanted to jump through the
phone to stick a stool under him, imagining himself standing in the Alumni
Stadium locker room Saturday night addressing the BC players.
"Facing an opponent like this, you have to take the story of fire and
fear.....under the stress of fear, it's what the hero does that makes him a
hero.....and it's what the coward doesn't do that makes him a coward! BC needs
to step up, baby!"
I love it.
I can see now why McNeeley has had success as a boxing coach -- Mickey
would be proud. With the Hurricane team and Hurricane Isabel descending upon us,
I wanted to know how our own Hurricane thought our boys would fare.
"That Hurricane is going to sweep by and miss us right? I think that
Hurricane is going to go the other way and take the Hurricanes (Miami) power
with them. Call it karma! We're gonna win, baby!"
He is the expert.
When pressed for a score, McNeeley declined.
"Football, much like boxing, is very unpredictable, I think it is going
to be an up and down game but BC's defense will be stubborn......and we will win
by a touchdown."
For all you BC fans out there, you heard it from the source. If anyone
wanted lockerroom fodder before the game to get them fired up, Hurricane provided
it. Not some pretty orange-colored team from the beach, or some weakening force of
nature named Isabel, but our Hurricane. Boston's own Hurricane.
Hurricane Peter McNeeley.
(McNeeley said he may fight for the last time in the near future, and I will
be there . . . fired up, baby!)
This article was written for www.EagleAction.com, the official sports
website of Boston College.