South African News

McNeeley Ready For Another Mike

Posted on 07 June 2001 - 09:37

Peter McNeeley  Allsport For Peter McNeeley Wednesday was just another day at work, even though he could be 48 hours away from becoming a world heavyweight champion.

Having fought Mike Tyson for almost 90 seconds, McNeeley is now ready to take on Mike Bernardo, the World Boxing Federation champion, in Cape Town on Friday night. He accepted the challenge only five days ago.

"I have often taken a fight at short notice. It was always like that, but after the Mike Tyson bout I knew I had to grab every opportunity to win a world title," he said on Wednesday.

"I stay in shape 24 hours a day and that's why I can accept a fight at short notice. I live for boxing and fighting is my life. I cannot say no when I am offered a challenge.

"I know it's not ideal to accept a bout at such short notice but that's what I promised myself. The only person who will tell me otherwise is my manager, Vinnie Vecchione," said McNeeley.

In 1995, after Mike Tyson had flattened McNeeley in round one of their bout in Las Vegas, Vecchione jumped into the ring to rescue his charge from further punishment and getting him disqualified in the process.

On Wednesday morning Vecchione saw McNeeley off on a 5km run and then had him spend an hour doing stretching exercises. In the afternoon the fighter spent two hours in a makeshift gymnasium doing mostly skipping and shadow boxing.

McNeeley comes from a family of high achievers.   His father Tom, Jr., fought Floyd Patterson for the world heavyweight championship.   His grandfather was a US light heavyweight amateur champion and a member of the US Olympic team in 1928.   And McNeeley's mother was a finalist in the Miss Universe pageant in the early 1960s.

Most local pundits are high on Bernardo and feel that he will finish off McNeeley in the fight Friday, putting him in line for a job with super promoter Don King.

Local trainer Emile Brice, who on Wednesday worked with McNeeley, has, however, warned Barnardo to be wary.

"McNeeley is a bit slow, but he has real power," said Brice.

"If Barnardo does not win by the fifth round then he could be in trouble. Do not rule out a Hasim Rahman punch from McNeeley."

The other world championship bout on the card is the Intercontinental Boxing Council's vacant super welterweight championship between local Virgil Kalakoda and Nigeria's Cyprian Emmetti.