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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Tyson's First Challenger: He's Smart, Not Scared

STOUGHTON, Massachusetts -- Peter McNeeley wore a T-shirt and jeans shorts to his news conference at a small hotel outside Boston. No flashy suit or fancy setting to discuss the biggest day of a career in which his top payday was $10,000.


"I'm a square peg in the fight game,'' he said Wednesday. "I come from a small, wealthy community. I'm college educated ... I'm just a different cat."


But he's still a fighter. That battling instinct is one thing he has in common with Mike Tyson, whose first bout since leaving prison March 25 will be against McNeeley on Aug. 19. Actually, it will be Tyson's first fight since he outpointed Razor Ruddock on June 28, 1991.


"All fighters go in the middle of the ring, they're barely dressed and they've got something in front of them. Fighters are different," said Vinny Vecchione, McNeeley's manager and trainer. "He's not going to be intimidated.


"He's a purebred pitbull fighter who doesn't back up,'' Vecchione added. "If you attempt to do anything illegal to this kid, he wouldn't hesitate to butt you in the head.''


McNeeley, a virtual unknown until the search for Tyson's first comeback opponent began, is given little chance against the former heavyweight champion. But he chuckles at his critics -- "Letterman is abusing me'' -- and shows absolutely no sign of anxiety as the big day approaches.


The plan is simple. Keep moving forward and forget about cute boxing moves.


Finesse is not McNeeley's forte. He figures the fight will be over within three rounds.


Vecchione is counting on Tyson being off, physically and mentally, after spending four years in an Indiana prison following a rape conviction.


"I know a few guys who have been locked up,'' Vecchione said. "He hasn't got it all together yet ... I didn't say that he [McNeeley] couldn't get beat. I just don't think he's going to fall apart.''


McNeeley, 36-1 with 30 knockouts, has won his last eight fights in the first round. He has fattened his record on weak fighters -- his last opponent had a 14-67-22 record. Still, he thinks he's ready.


"I've been hanging around the fight game now for 8 1/2 years'' as an amateur and pro, he said. "I think I've been in the ring enough that I should be able to overcome whatever comes at me ... I'll bull him all over the ring.''


Tyson has been training in seclusion. But Vecchione said he knows that Tyson isn't being hit in the ribs, something that McNeeley, a good body puncher, intends to do.


McNeeley comes from a family of fighters. His grandfather, Tom, was on the 1928 U.S. Olympic team. His father, Tom Jr., was knocked out in the fourth round by Floyd Patterson in a heavyweight challenge in 1961.