Sunday, June 16, 1996


McNeeley primed for another shot


It's a long way from the Whitman Armory to the MGM Grand Garden Arena, but it's a lot longer when you're going in the opposite direction. Peter McNeeley had to learn that the hard way, but after a long fall that was started by Mike Tyson's fists, things are looking up again.

Friday morning, McNeeley and manager Vinnie Vecchione finalized a two-year deal with Denver promoter Mat Tinley to fight at least six times a year on Prime Network and on other Tinley promotions in combination with another Tinley-backed fighter, former World Boxing Council bantamweight champion Wayne McCullough. McCullough, who won a silver medal for Ireland in the Barcelona Olympics, just resigned his title because of weight problems and will move up to the super bantamweight class and challenge champion Daniel Zaragoza.

Thanks to a two-year deal with promoter Mat Tinley, Peter McNeeley (left) and manager Vinnie Vecchione are back in action.   (Globe Staff File Photo/Pat Greenhouse)

McNeeley will make his debut as a Tinley fighter July 13 on CBS against an unnamed opponent under a McCullough main event before traveling to Ireland in late September or early October to fight on a card that includes McCullough-Zaragoza.

Tinley's plan is to pair the Irishman and the Irish-American on Prime Network from Europe in fights he hopes will lead to a showdown between McNeeley and Kevin McBride for the Irish heavyweight title. But after surviving the surprisingly bitter fallout from his controversial, rapid-fire loss to Tyson last August, McNeeley and Vecchione are just happy to have another second chance.

"This is a good deal for Peter," Vecchione said. "I would say as much as Wayne fights, Peter will fight on those cards. Peter's excited again.

"He went through a down period after the Tyson fight. It was hard to go back to the Armory from the MGM Grand. To be involved in something that's big and then it's over like that, there had to be a letdown. There was. It was a tough time for Peter. It was a tough time for all of us. But Peter is excited about being on CBS and having a long-term deal with a network."

That deal came about after Tinley asked promoter Al Valenti what McNeeley was up to, having lost track of him after the Tyson fight despite the fact that McNeeley has had three victories since then to push his record to 39-2 with 34 knockouts. Valenti brought Vecchione together with Tinley in Phoenix to discuss the possibilities.

Tinley originally wanted a three-year deal but Vecchione got it cut to two, with McNeeley likely to earn $7,500 - $10,000 when he fights under McCullough and $25,000 or more for televised main events. A title fight, if one ever comes to be, would be negotiated separately.

But after making $750,000 last year from the Tyson fight and several commercials that spun out of it, money was not the point this time. McNeeley will be paid reasonably for his efforts under Tinley, but more important to Vecchione is that this time, he believes, he will have the financial backing to build McNeeley's record against the same kind of opponents who were the fodder for recent heavyweight contenders such as Tommy Morrison and Jeremy Williams.

"This is our second chance to do something," Vecchione said. "He can't fight the guys he's been fighting before on television, but now he won't have to. We never had any money to pay guys with 35-5 or 25-8 records for Peter to fight. Now it's different.

"Peter will be a success in boxing. He may not be the greatest fighter who ever lived, but he is tough and he will be a success. Peter is going to be around for a while."

On June 22, McNeeley will be appearing at the Whitman Armory one last time, fighting Bernard McClain. A month later, he'll be on CBS, and by fall he'll be in Dublin with McCullough on Prime Network, trying to fight his way back to a place as grand as the MGM.

Related articles:
McNeeley Returns To Prime Time   [The Suburban Press]
McNeeley No Punchline   [Nando SportServer]

This story ran on page 80 of the Boston Globe on 06/16/96.