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February 6, 2015

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Page12 POST-GAZETTE, FEBRUARY 6, 2015 HOOPS and HOCKEY in the HUB by RichardPre s YOU HAVE TO LOOK AT MORE THAN THE NUMBERS Tiger Ted Lowry was More than a Statistic I believe it was Harry Truman who once said, "There are lies, damn lies, and statistics." This quote can certainly apply to boxing. Today, it seems there is more and more emphasis placed on numbers when * it comes to boxing. Watch any televised fight and you are barraged with comments and graphics about how many punches are thrown and where they landed. You are told that x amount of punches are power punches (I have been told that a power punch is any punch that isn't a jab). Comments are made about knock out ratios and not only how many wins a fighter has had, but how many consecutive winning rounds he has had. With all these numbers being thrown around you would be forgiven ff you thought you had tuned into a baseball game instead of a boxing match. Well, box- hag ain't baseball, and these numbers mean very little in a sport as subjective as boxing. It is almost as if they are trying to take the human element out of the sport. That really isn't surprising in this modern age of boxing where fighters have become more like rock-'em sock-'em robots. We are witnessing the atomization of boxing, which is fitting in this era where there is so much talk about driver- less cars becoming a reality. It is interesting to look at box- ing statistics. Take a boxer's record for instance; what would your first thoughts be about a boxer with a record of 71 wins, 68 losses, and 10 draws for a total of 149 fights? You'd probably be thinking, "This guy must be pretty beat up. He has lost almost half of his bouts. It sounds like he picked the wrong profession to be in." That could be true if you were to only go by the numbers you are read- ing. Let me take it a bit fur- ther. What if I now tell you he fought at least three world champions and a number of top contenders? "Oh sure", you say, "he must have been an opponent for them on their way up, and he must be really beat up after being in with those guys see- ing that, by his record he obviously couldn't fight very well." Well, here's where those statistics be- come damn lies. The fighter I am talking about was Tiger, Ted Lowry who fought out of New Bedford, and I can assure you Ted was no bum. The interesting thing about boxing is that you only get very little from the numbers. In order to truly know a fighter, especially a fighter from the Golden Era of boxing, you have to dig deeper. So, first, a little more about the numbers. Out of Ted's 149 fights he was only stopped twice, once by power punching Rusty Payne and then on a questionable stoppage against top heavyweight contender Harry Kid Matthews. One-hundred-forty-nine fights and he only failed to answer the final bell twice, amazing[ Okay, so now you are asking, "Who were his opponents? He prob- ably just fought other ham and eggers, and when he stepped up he got stopped." Let me give you this to think about. In 1952 he fought World Light Heavyweight Champion Joey Maxim. Let me quote Mike Silver, the author of The Arc of Boxing, the Rise and Decline of the Sweet Sci- ence, "One of Ted's fin- est performances was the night he fought Joey Maxim. It was a non-title bout and he clearly deserved the win, but there was no way that was going to happen. Maxim went on to defeat the great Sugar Ray Robinson in his next bout." Those lying statistics are acting up again. Let me throw in another example of Ted at work in the ring. For those of you who know who Tiger Ted is, the name that is forever joined with his is, Rocky Marciano. Ted was the only man to go the dis- tance twice with the Rock. Their first bout was in Providence, R[ on Octo- ber 10, 1949. Marciano had a record of 20 wins with no losses when he entered the ring that night. Ted came in with a record of 62 wins, 50 losses, and 9 draws. He had lost his last seven consecutive bouts. He looked like the typical opponent. For this fight let me quote Michael J. Thomas who covered the fight for the Providence Journal, "Marciano did not win the fight. This reporter gave it to Lowry, six rounds to four." Now, this is a perfect example of what happens if you just look at the numbers when matching an up-and- coming young fighter with an "opponent." When you look a bit deeper you see that not only did Ted go the distance all but twice in his career, and at the time of the Marciano bout he had only been stopped once, but he had been in the ring with the likes of Archie Moore, Lee Oma, Lee Savold, Tiger Jack Fox, and Omelio Agramonte. Often he fought in his opponent's home- town, so there is no telling how fair many of these deci- sions were. Ted lost the rematch to Rocky and then went on to fight Roland LaStarza, Jimmy Bivins, and Joey Maxim ha that highly questionable loss. Ted could fight. If you go to YouTube you can fmd an interview he gave on tape when he was 89 years old. There is no way you would ever guess this man had stepped into the ring 149 times against some of the greatest fighters of his era. His face is not scarred, his nose is not broken, and his speech is not slurred. That interview tells me more than any statistics. It tells me that Tiger Ted Lowry was one terrific fighter, and ff circumstances had been different he would have been a world champion. DOWN THE STRETCH WE GO -- It's one of the first signs of the coming spring, it is. And it has nothing to do with the Red Sox equipment van starting south or the arrival of pitchers and catchers at their various spring training destinations. Rather, you know that there is spring in the air (no matter how much snow there is in the Hub) when the daily papers convert from printing the divisional standings in the NBA and NHL to confer- ence standings. As January became Febru- ary, the Globe switched over, an indication that the post- season in hoops and hockey is on the horizon. From now on each game will mean more, the results of those competing for a berth will be scrutinized more intently and the standings will take on new relevance. Let's just say right now that the Bruins are in an excel- lent position to qualify for the Stanley Cup Playoffs come April. " The NHL introduced a new wrinkle in the qualifying this season. It used to be that the top eight teams in each con- ference qualified. Now it's the top three teams in each divi- sion plus the next two with the highest point totals quali- fying as wild cards regardless of division. As of early February, the Bruins were in a wild card spot with 60 points, mak- ing them, in fact, the eighth place team in the conference. The three Atlantic division leaders were Tampa Bay (68 points), with Montreal and Detroit right behind at 67 each). On the other end, it was quite a drop-off to ninth place Florida with 52. What it all means is that the Bruins most likely should get a playoff berth. Given the fact that they have been play- ing better of late, they prob- ably aren't going to sink down to Florida's level. However, if they really get hot (and one of those three top teams in the division cools off), the B's could move from a wild card spot to one reserved for the divi- sional qualifiers. Either way, look for the B's to be in action in the first round of the Stanley Cup playoffs. And there may be a new face or two. The NHL trade deadline is looming. It's March 2"d. Over on the basketball side, all is not lost for Brad Stevens and the Celtics. As of early February the Celtics could still be considered to be in contention for a playoff berth in the relatively weak East- ern Conference. Lots of people are saying the C's are having a bad year. But that's all relative when so many other teams in the conference are also down on their luck. Out of the top eight teams in the confer- ence qualify for the playoffs -- only six of them are playing above the .500 level. The other nine are all below that standard -- some signifi- cantly so. In early February, the C's were in 11~ place -- but only four games out of the eighth position. As we have said be- fore, if the C's can merely get warm (and there were signs of that on the recent Western trip where they finished .500 with a 3-3 record), then they might be able to do it. If they can finish somewhere north of .400 for the season, they've got a chance. Granted, how the other teams perform down the stretch will also play a large role in this, but at this juncture, the playoffs are still within the grasp of the Green. GORDIE HOWE IMPROVES -- Gordie Howe, the NHL's personification of durability, has once again shown that he is up to a challenge. The 86-year-old legend, who suf- fered a serious stroke in late October and was hospitalized for dehydration in December, appears to be doing well following a treatment with adult stem cells at a Mexican clinic. So much in fact that he was scheduled to make a pub- lic appearance in Canada over the weekend. But not all was bright for Howe as news came that his brother Victor has passed away in Moncton, New Brunswick on January 31st. Vic Howe, a right wing, played portions of three seasons with the New York Rangers ha the 1950s. He also had an extensive career in the minor leagues. He was 85. BEANPOT SHINING BRIGHT -- The first round of the Beanpot went into the books in an exciting fashion with Boston University scoring a 4-3 double overtime victory over Harvard and North- eastern posting a 3-2 upset of Boston College with only 94 seconds left in regulation time. The exciting finishes mean that BU will play North- eastern in the champion- ship game on February 9th. Northeastern has not won a Beanpot title since 1988, while BU, once a power in the Pot with 29 titles on Cause- way Street, has not won since 2009. Although NU has not won since 1988, the Huskies have come close on three recent occasions. They've now made it to the championship game in three of the last five years, only to leave the game with- out the trophy in 2011, 2013, and 2014. It was BC that downed the Huskies for the crown on all three occasions. So this will be the Huskies fourth attempt to capture the title in the second decade of the 21st century. Perhaps no one would like to win the Beanpot more than BU Coach Dave Quinn. Now in his second year behind the bench, a victory by the Terri- ers would be an affirmation that BU has now returned to the spotlight, claiming once again a title in a tournament that was once informally called "the BU Invitational." Will it be NU or BU? We'll all find out on Monday night.