" Jones is very cute," McNeeley explained. "He knows how to butt and use his elbows so the referee can't see it. The only way I know to do those things is out in the open, which is where I did it." McNeeley won the fight by a fourth-round knockout, but afterward the New York boxing commission threatened to bar him from the state.
By this time it had become apparent that if McNeeley continued on this fiery path he might well be banned everywhere. Fuller considered this possibility dourly, then called the fighter to the huge Cadillac- Oldsmobile agency he owns in Boston. He told McNeeley that he wanted him to see a psychiatrist.
It was a suggestion that McNeeley took as an insult.
"You think I'm some kind of a nut or something?" he demanded.
"I'm sorry," Fuller told him. "You're going to go or I'll put you on the shelf."
After contemplating the emptiness of a life without an occasional fist fight, McNeeley agreed.
"I love fighting," he said. "To me there couldn't be a better way to make money and yet be doing something I like. If I had a good income from something else I'd still be fighting for the pure love of it. It gives me a sense of competition and personal accomplishment, being in there alone. I loved football, but you're part of a team there. In boxing you do it all yourself."
So, after evaluating Fuller as "a very stubborn fellow" who really would make good on his threat to retire him, McNeeley went to a psychiatrist. It turned out that he needed very little treatment.
"We finally figured out," he said, "that the cause of my wild temper was my intense desire to win. You see, my father [Tom Sr. onetime New England heavyweight] always impressed on us kids the necessity of being first—not just in boxing, in everything. He didn't like us to be second-best. When I realized that was the reason for my temper, I learned to keep it under control."
Patterson, McNeeley has heard, does not enjoy fighting but is in the game solely for the money. To McNeeley this approximates a moral defect and somehow encourages him to believe that he has that "good chance." But he does not underestimate the champion a whit.