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Page16 BOSTON POST-GAZETTE, AUGUST 8, 2014 HOOPS and HOCKEY in the HUB by Richard Preiss g READING The Gods of War Shadow Boxing with Golovkin Springs Toledo REVIEW: The Gods of War Springs Toledo is well- known in boxing circles as a very good writer who also knows his boxing. Whether writing about Harry Greb or one of the current champi- ons, his style is a throwback to the days when boxing writ- ers knew the craft of writing as well as the sport. You do not have to be a boxing fan nor do you need a knowledge of the Sweet Science to enjoy his work. However, if you do know your boxing history, Springs will make you think more deeply about it. In his book The Gods of War, Toledo has compiled a collection of his essays in the first section and then takes us on a run through his selection of the ten best fighters of the modern era (fighters who hit their prime after 1920) he calls this se- lect group The Gods of War. Reading the essays in the first section you will hear echoes, not imitations, of A.J. Leibling and Raymond Chandler. Springs is not at- tempting to set the clock back with his style of writ- ing, but rather he under- stands that boxing is the per- fect subject for interesting and creative writing. I think of the term coined by Gay Talese, creative non-fiction, when reading these pieces as they all have a certain sense of drama to them that deserves to be explored. I was pleased to see four essays on Sonny Liston, a fighter whom much too little has been written about. Springs absolutely nails it when he discusses the Ali- Liston fight that was called off in Boston. If that fight had taken place history may have been very different. Much of what is revealed here I know to be true. He talks about Alexis Arguello and the suffering this very decent man lived with all his life, a life that ended tragically and too soon, but one that is not un- common in boxing. Boxing has a way of focusing our at: tention on the unfairness and cruelties of life, and To- ledo uses his pen to paint a picture of this reality. In the section entitled The Gods of War, Springs has de- veloped a criteria for rating the greatest fighters. These greatest of all time lists are always controversial and guaranteed to raise the hackles of boxing fans, but in this case the author has used a very interesting and solid system for rating his picks. Will you agree with his choices? Probably not. But that is part of the fun. What will happen is you will be forced to think more deeply about your own picks. This is not just a list, but a series of short pieces that give the reader insight into each of the Gods of War. I feel I am pretty knowledge- able about the sport having spent a lifetime around it, but I learned much by read- ing these essays. For in- stance, I had not known about the connection be- tween the Bob Fitzsimmons Shift and Roberto Duran. I would advise not jumping to the end to see the pick for the top spot, but rather read and savor each bio as you work your way to the end. There are surprises, but Springs backs up each of his choices with his terrific writing and deep insight. There are many books on boxing being published today. Some very good, some that are labors of love that just don't measure up, and some that would have been better off remaining as trees. The Gods of War is one that de- serves to be read by everyone with an interest in boxing, an appreciation of good writ- ing, and those with a desire to know more about the human condition. I know it will remain in my library for many years to come. Shadow Boxing with Golovkin A couple of weeks ago I watched the Gennady Golovkin-Daniel Geale bout on television. I saw some- thing before the bout when the cameras were in Golovkin's dressing room, something you rarely if ever see today, Gennady was shadow boxing. This used to be common practice as fight- ers warmed up for their bouts, loosening up and get- ting ready to do battle. Today, they are usually spending their time warming up while robotically playing patty cake on the mitts with a trainer or having batons swung at them. Golovkin actually moves around the room get- ting loose and is practicing the movements he will be using in the ring. His mind is engaged. He is not just going through drills and re- peating the same moves over and over again. He is visualizing his opponent in front of him, imagining what he will be facing in the ring. He is getting his body ready while engaging his mind. Golovkin is a very good fighter. He showed that when he rolled with a right hand while delivering his own knockout punch in the Geale fight. He has power, is in great shape all the time, and knows how to think in there. He knows how to slip punches and create angles. He has been well taught and is learning his craft. He is also a class act, behaving as a gentleman before and af- ter a bout. There is no cheap talk or language you wouldn't want your kids to hear. He carries himself well and sets a very good example. I do see problems for him though. I think he can domi- nate the division, but I doubt we will ever see him reach his full potential. We may even see him regress a bit. This is because he does not have the level of competition to force him to improve. At thisstage in his career he should still be forced to learn in each fight he has. He is a very focused and intellec- tual boxer, but he does not have the peers to pressure him to go beyond where he is now. I saw some signs that he was getting just a bit sloppy in the Geale match. This is not to take anything away from him, it just shows that he is so good he does not have to pay for his mistakes. I doubt his camp is even able to find good sparring for him. In an earlier age they would have had solid journeyman sparring partners for a fighter like Gennady. Guys that would make him work in there, forcing him to hone his skills and continue to learn new moves. I hope he continues to improve so we get to see if he is able to develop into a great fighter, but I fear that instead of im- proving, he may be brought down by the caliber of fight- ers he is facing in today's game. He is very smart. He is very talented. I want him to prove me wrong. Bobby can be reached at Gennady Golovkin vs. Daniel Geale IT WONT BE IX)NG NOW -- As August rolls on, the Celtics come closer to being on the radar screens of Hub sports fans. The Green and White will resume play in less than two months when they return to action in a pre-season game against the Philadel- phia 76ers at the TD Garden on October 6. The matchup will be the first of eight pre-season games that will go a long way in determining the full roster of the team for the 2014-2015 regular season campaign. Although we're in a much different era than when the Celtics first took the floor in the late 1940s, the pre-sea- son retains a bit of that former atmosphere as the squad in effect "barnstorms" across New England, bringing a taste of Celtics basketball to areas outside of Boston. Thus, the Celtics will play the New York Knicks in Hartford on October 8th and will face the same Knicker- bocker squad once again at the Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Conn. on Octo- ber 11th. They'll also meet the Toronto Raptors in Portland, on October 15th. The C's will also go against the Raptors in Toronto on October I0th and later play the 76ers in Philly on Octo- ber 16th. The pre-season will close with a pair of games against the Nets -- on Octo- ber 19th in Brooklyn and on October 22"d in Boston. SAME NAME, SAME GAME, SAME SCHOOL, DIFFERENT OUTCOMES -- This is a tale of two players named Melo, who went to the same univer- sity, played the same game, but then took divergent paths down the roundball trail. One is current NBA star Carmelo Anthony,. a player who grew up in New York City, played prep school basketball' in Maryland and Virginia and went on to play one season at Syracuse. That year culmi- nated in the Orange winning the NCAA Division I National Championship in 2003 and Anthony being named the MVP of the Final Four. After that success Melo left Syracuse and embarked on a lucrative NBA career. Drafted third overall by the Denver Nuggets, he led Denver to a pair of division titles and to the playoffs every year from 2004 to 2010, including a berth in the Western Confer- ence Finals in 2009. Traded to the Knicks in 2011, Melo recently signed a new five-year contract worth a reported $124 million. That brings us to the other Melo -- Fab Melo -- who also had an outstanding career at Syracuse. A 7-0 center, he stayed for two years, earning Big East Defensive Player of the Year honors in his sopho- more season. However, he was declared ineligible for the NCAA Tournament that year (2012) for academic reasons. The Celtics selected Melo with their 22"d pick in the NBA Draft. Although he made the opening night roster, he was quickly assigned to the Maine Red Claws, the C's affiliate in the NBA Develop- ment League. There he would remain for basically the bal- ance of the season -- with a few breaks for limited duty in Boston. Melo didn't make his NBA debut until February, 2013. He would play a few more times with Boston, including the final game of the regular season against the Toronto Raptors. When it was all over he had played only a half dozen games for the Celtics -- and would never be seen again in Boston. During the summer of 2013 he was traded to the Memphis Grizzlies -- who promptly waived him before Labor Day. He was then picked up by the Dallas Mavericks -- who also waived him during the pre-season. Acquired by his old team (the Maine Red Claws) for one day last Janu- ary, he was promptly traded to the Texas Legends where he finished out the year. It was time to leave U.S. basketball and Melo did just that, signing with Paulistano in his native Brazil in early August. IN MEMORIAM -- Remem- bering USA Olympic Hockey "Miracle on Ice" head coach Herb Brooks on the 11th anniversary of his passing (August 11, 2003). A native of St. Paul, Brooks had already coached the Uni- versity of Minnesota to three NCAA national champion- ships prior to his success with the 1980 Olympic Team in Lake Placid, N.Y. But it would be that team that would vault him into national prominence. Select- ing a roster made up mostly of college players, he forged a squad that took down the powerful Soviet Union team in the Olympic semifinals. Although not the gold medal game (the U.S. defeated Finland two days later to win the gold), the victory over the Soviet Union was ranked the greatest sporting achieve- ment of the 20th century by Sports Illustrated magazine. The Olympics brought Brooks immediate fame and later fortune in the form of an NHL coaching career. As the years rolled by he would serve behind the bench as the head coach of the New York Rangers (1981-1985), the Minnesota North Stars (1987- 1988), the New Jersey Devils (1992-1993) and the Pitts- burgh Penguins (1999-2000). He also had two encore per- formances in the Olympics, coaching the 1998 French team in Nagano, Japan as well as the 2002 U.S. team that won the silver medal i~ Salt Lake City. At the time of his passing (at age 66) he was director of player development for the Penguins. The venue where the U.S. won the 1980 gold medal (the Olympic Ice Arena in Lake Placid) was renamed Herb Brooks Arena in 2005, the 25th anniversary year of the historic achievement.