Fifteen Years Later: "Iron" Mike Tyson vs. "Hurricane" Peter McNeeley

Colin LinneweberSenior Writer ISeptember 3, 2010

Fifteen years ago last month at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, "Iron" Mike Tyson defeated "Hurricane" Peter McNeeley by a first-round disqualification in his first fight since his March 1995 release from prison.

Tyson (50-6-0-2, 44 KOs), who, at 20 years old, became the youngest man in history to capture the heavyweight championship, was sentenced to a six-year term behind bars in February 1992 for the rape of Miss Black Rhode Island, Desiree Washington, in an Indianapolis hotel room.

At the pinnacle of his career, Tyson was a defensive phenomenon in the ring who possessed an extraordinary blend of quickness, timing, reflexes, and power.

Perhaps more vital was Tyson's menacing persona and ability to cripple opponents with fear before a bout even got under way. 

Prior to Tyson's incarceration, his aura of invincibility evaporated in February 1990 when he was knocked onto Queer Street in the 10th round by 42-1 underdog James "Buster" Douglas in Tokyo, Japan.

After the epic upset loss, Tyson's skills began to erode due to a lack of proper training, concentration, and dedication.

Unfortunately, "Iron Mike's" pugilistic abilities only further diminished during his three-year stay in the pen. 

Therefore, Tyson's handlers searched for an untalented sap for Tyson to fight in his return to the squared circle.

On cue, McNeeley (47-7, 36 KOs), a Caucasian Medfield native, was selected to battle the convicted felon on August 19, 1995.

McNeeley, whose father, Tom, was a former heavyweight contender, entered the late-summer prizefight with only one blemish on his record.

Instead of cowering like a clown pocket as expected, the "Hurricane" aggressively charged Tyson at the opening bell and attempted to bully the most notorious of all bullies. 

Although admirable and courageous, McNeeley's strategy backfired and he was floored twice before his manager stepped into the ring to stop his fighter from taking any more punishment after the second knockdown. 

Tyson and his flunkies were criticized for picking an unworthy adversary like McNeeley to begin with.

Conversely, McNeeley became a nationwide basis for gags and jokes for his "Sin City" performance against the paroled rapist. 

Granted, McNeeley was not exactly the boxing equivalent of Brockton's legendary Rocky Marciano. Nevertheless, people are wrong to discount McNeeley and consider him an entire bum. 

In actuality, McNeeley was an adequate prizefighter who would maim the grand majority of men with his bare hands.

"McNeeley was just big and solid. Quick, too," said an undisclosed individual who sparred with the "Hurricane" in 1992 at a gym in Woburn. 

"I'm 6"4" and I weighed about 250 pounds and the guy just rocked me with blows and it was evident he wasn't giving his all. They chose me to spar with McNeeley because I have long arms and they wanted to prepare him for a particular opponent with similar features. McNeeley's a tough guy."

Mike Tyson is one of the most celebrated and renowned prizefighters ever.

McNeeley is merely a vague New England name who will forever be recalled for his 89-second scrap with "The Baddest Man on the Planet."

McNeeley was not "The Baddest Man on the Planet" and he never will be.

However, "Hurricane" Peter McNeeley was a tough boxer who deserves praise for his successful career as a prizefighter.