|Saturday, July 23, 1994|
A tainted victory for McNeeley
By Bob Buckley
PLYMOUTH — The fights returned to Memorial Hall on Friday night, but the memories of local boxing legends who fought here before were somewhat tarnished.
Peter McNeeley was the fifth fighter and the headliner of the "Friday Night Fights", and he got things done quickly, scoring a first-round knockout of Dwayne Hall. The win improved McNeeley's professional record to 29-1.
It was revealed shortly after the fight that Hall had been suspended indefinitely because he had been knocked out in his last fight.
The suspension was originally for 90 days but was extended the next day by the Connecticut Commission.
While it's obvious that McNeeley can punch and he appears to have boxing potential, a fight like this does little to shatter the stereotype that he has been trying to downplay for much of his professional career. McNeeley's management team of Vinnie Vecchione and South Shore Boxing Club director Cliff Phippen have been accused of padding McNeeley's fight record with easy opponents.
There is a reason boxing programs are not written in stone. McNeeley was originally scheduled to fight Bobby Crabtree, who had over 70 professional fights and who had fought six title contenders.
But there was no Crabtree sighting in Plymouth on this night as Hall was brought in as a last-minute replacement after Crabtree failed to show. McNeeley had beaten Hall once before and there were no cries for a rematch after their fight in November.
Vechionne said he was informed on Wednesday that Crabtree would not honor his commitment to fight McNeeley, leaving Vecchione and promoter Jack Buckley only 48 hours to find a suitable replacement.
"Hall took McNeeley the full six rounds when they fought before," said Vecchione. "There was nothing we could do. Hall was the best thing available on short notice. McNeeley was the main event — the whole show would have had to be cancelled.
"It has always been our plan to bring McNeeley along slowly. Crabtree is a very seasoned fighter. We thought it would be a good test."
Officials of the Massachusetts State Boxing Commission were stunned at the sudden turn of events.
"We just found out (about the suspension)," said Bernard Doherty of the Massachusetts State Boxing Commission. "This is the responsibility of John Burns, the Connecticut State Boxing Commissioner. They did not notify us about this."
Doherty believed Hall would be a suitable replacement.
"You are always a bit leery in this situation, but Hall did go six rounds with McNeeley in November" said Doherty. [McNeeley reportedly was also battling the flu the first time he beat Hall.] "It is time for the New England states to coordinate this kind of information."
Hall, for his part, denied the suspension ever took place.
Vecchione stated that regardless of Hall's status, it should not affect what McNeeley did in the ring.
"The fighter did his job and he did it well," said Vecchione. "There is no doubt that we have to step up the class of opposition. That's what we're working on."
Vecchione stated that he has a meeting scheduled with Don King on Tuesday. McNeeley signed a four-year deal with Don King Productions last month and Vecchione stated that King is looking to take McNeeley out of the country, possibly Belfast or Dublin.
Danny Phippen, the other South Shore Boxing Club fighter on the card, was also a first-round knockout winner. Phippen made a human punching bag of Mike Harris, the brother of heavyweight Bobby Harris.
Harris stayed in the corner for most of the fight, ducking long before he was punched. Harris' corner finally threw in the towel.
New England welterweight Kipp Diggs defended his New England Welterweight title with a third-round knockout of Milton Leaks.
This story was published on Page 20 of The Brockton Enterprise on 07/23/94.