McNeeley KOs Siciliano in first round

Sunday, June 18, 2000

By Bud Barth
Telegram & Gazette Staff

LEOMINSTER -- What was perhaps the most eagerly awaited boxing match in northern Worcester County history didn't last very long -- or end very happily for the locals -- here last night.

Leominster drug detective Joe Siciliano, a robust, 5-foot-10, 266-pound champion of the people, didn't quite last one full round against Hurricane Peter McNeeley. Knocked down for the third time at 2:57 of the first round, the portly Siciliano got up again after referee Dick Flaherty reached the count of ten and awarded the KO to McNeeley before more than 1,000 screaming fans last night at Leominster Armory Hall.

It was circus atmosphere inside the brutally hot, humid and stuffy hall. Siciliano slipped and went down just 20 seconds into the fight but it wasn't scored a knockdown. He was having trouble keeping his balance as he tried to charge forward and still protect himself.

McNeeley, who appeared to be in at least decent shape, knocked Siciliano down with a big right hand the first time, and a short left hook the second time. Both times, Siciliano got up. He also slipped and went down one more time before the final flurry.

On the decisive knockdown, a short left hook landed cleanly to the jaw of Siciliano, who went down on all fours. He got back up, but more slowly than the first two times, and Flaherty waved the fight over.

“He hit me right on the chin,” Siciliano said. “I don't know if it was a right or a left.”

For McNeeley (47-5), who has fought big-time heavyweights including Mike Tyson, it was his 36th KO, and his 25th in the first round. After the fight, he raised both arms, then went over to Siciliano, wrapped his left arm around his shoulder, and whispered something in his ear as the crowd -- pro-McNeeley and pro-Siciliano -- cheered.

“He hit me,” Siciliano conceded, “but the bottom line is that I got back up. He's still one of the best around.”

Siciliano, who never landed a clean blow, said “I definitely would have kept going.”   “I wanted to keep going.”

“The thing is, he took Peter's best shots and got up three times off the canvas,” said John Zablocki, who handled Siciliano's corner. “It's a big fight for a guy (Siciliano) who is 2-0 or 3-0. The other guy's had 52 fights.”

It became clear early that Siciliano was in way over his head. He finally resorted to clutching McNeeley and pushing him into the ropes two or three times just to protect himself.

It was a lot tougher than he expected.

“It was,” he agreed. “I thought maybe he'd open up (to be punched). He's a legitimate hard puncher with a lot of experience. The experience on his part, and the inexperience on my part, showed.”

The Worcester Telegram & Gazette