" Patterson has terrific speed for a heavyweight," he said, "and he's cute and cunning. He's tricky in his own fashion. And he's pretty hard to hit with that peekaboo defense. Hooks don't do any good with those gloves covering the sides of his head. You have to go straight through."
And that is why Fuller and Trainer Jackie Martin have been working so hard to straighten out McNeeley's right-hand punching. After all, the straight rights of Ingemar Johansson proved mighty effective in the first and third of the Swede's fights with Patterson.
"Actually," McNeeley said, "my best punch used to be the right, then I seemed to lose it. I lost it in the finesse of developing a left hook. It's coming back, though, and my left hook has been coming real good in the last year.
"I and Pete have some ideas about how to fight Patterson and we'll keep those quiet, but it's no secret that I intend to stay on top and carry the fight to him. That might not work, of course, and I might have to revert to Johansson's technique of running away from him until I have a chance to get in a good shot. But the best way is to be the aggressor. I'll try to wear him down. I'm not the type that takes you out with one shot. I'm not that good a puncher. But if I get him in trouble—well, that's when I'm at my best.
"If I have him as Johansson did in their third fight [when a stunned Patterson, knocked down by a straight right in the first round, may well have been saved by the mandatory eight-count], there's no doubt in my mind that I'll be heavyweight champion of the world."
The second Patterson-Johansson fight (which Floyd won easily) is the only Patterson fight McNeeley has attended.
"But I've seen eight or 10 of his fights on film," McNeeley said, "and I've watched the last fight a dozen times. Before the fight I'll see the movies a hundred or more times."
Later he'll be able to see the film of his own fight with Patterson. But he might not enjoy it quite as much.