The stars came out for Mike Tyson’s return. Having been out of action, for the most part being in jail, for over four years, the former heavyweight champ was a bigger star than ever. It was always going to be a massive event when Tyson fought again, yet he never actually got the chance to do much fighting against handpicked foe, the game but totally outclassed Peter McNeeley.
Very much an ordinay man thrown into a bizarre situation, high-class club fighter McNeleey was no real-life Rocky Balboa. He enjoyed his 15 minutes of fame and thankfully walked away undamaged, yet we knew nothing when it came to how much Tyson had left. Talking a great fight – “I’m gonna wrap him up in a cocoon of horror” being one of “The Hurricane’s” most memorable lines – McNeely knew what he was in for.
Running at Tyson even before the first bell had actually rang, McNeeley wanted to get it over with. Fast. And as painless as possible. Aided by his coach, Vinnie Vecchione, who was faster with the white towel of surrender than his fighter was with his punches, McNeeley was soon put out of his misery.
Decked twice by Tyson, and, it must be said, bravely getting back up both times, McNeely’s father figure/trainer lobbed in the towel as he came into the ring. The fans screaming for more action (or wanting to see legalised murder if you prefer), the MGM Grand in Las Vegas was on fire. And then it was over. Millions of fans had paid to see the “fight” on P-P-V and thousands more paid a fortune to be there live, and yet they saw nothing. A brief appearance of a once great fighter who had had way tougher workouts on the heavy bag.
Credit goes to the late Vecchione, for getting his fighter a massive payday (and a TV advert shortly afterwards, before McNeeley faded from public view and memory). Vinnie saw his man get paid and go home with the brains he had climbed into the ring with.
Far too many fighters, better than McNeeley in every department, are not so lucky. It was carnival time in Vegas in August of 1995, and the man behind it all, Don King, was all smiles. Tyson, his biggest cash cow by some margin, was BACK! Hey, at least Don put on a decent under-card by means of support for the paying suckers, sorry, fans.