Boxing: America Awaits Neary's Progress
Leach, Glyn, The Independent (London, England)
SHOULD TONIGHT'S World Boxing Union light-welterweight title fight at St George's Hall, Liverpool, featuring Shea Neary, turn out to be an uneventful bout it will surely surprise many observers. The Merseyside- based champion has a cultivated a burgeoning reputation as British boxing's most exciting fighter.
As usual when Neary fights in his home town, the arena - albeit a modest 1,500-seater - was sold out weeks ago. Neary, 30, is a rarety in this sport: a man who has the capability of packing houses irrespective of his opposition. That tonight's challenger is a little known Argentinian, Juan Carlos Villareal, is neither here nor there. A Neary fight has long been recognised as an opportunity for Liverpool's fight fans to turn up in force.
Tonight will be a homecoming of sorts for the champion, his last defence - a stirring 12-round win over South Africa's Naas Scheepers in July - having taken place in Widnes, due to the scant availability of suitable sized venues in Liverpool. When Neary faced his home-town rival Andy Holligan in March, his promoters were forced to erect a marquee on Stanley Park, famously situated in the "no man's land" between Anfield and Goodison, in order to accommodate a raucous crowd of 5,000. But now the celebrations are set to go global. While tonight's fight will be screened live by ITV, the first time that the network has gone head-to-head with Match of the Day for almost four years, the interest expressed in Neary by the American subscription TV channel Home Box Office looks set to move the Scouse success story on to another level entirely. …