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Page12 BOSTON POST,.GAZETTE, SEPTEMBER 11,2015 > HOOPS and HOCKEY in the HUB by Richard Preiss PENDER vs. HAGLER Pender Had the Style to Give .the Marvelous One Trouble But Could He Have Won? Paul Pender The Boston area has pro- duced three World Middle- weight Champions. Johnny Wilson, who was originally from Harlem, Paul Pender from Brookline, and Marvel- ous Marvin Hagler from Brockton by way of New Jer- sey. Interestingly, two of these champions, Wilson and Hagler, were southpaws. While watching clips of Paul Pender in action, I started to think about how a matchup between these two local world champions would have played out. Haglef's name is always included in any list of great middleweight champions, while Pender is remembered as a very good, but not great, champion. However, a boxer not being ranked on the all- time great list does not mean he would not have posed prob- lems for one of the best. It has been repeated over and over and is still true, styles make fights. Ken Norton is never ranked as an all-time great, yet in their three fights he gave Muhammad Ali, the number one choice of many boxing experts, all he could handle. Many believe he de- served the decision in all of their match ups, not just the first one where he broke Ali's jaw. If they fought a hundred times, it would always be a tough fight for Ali. Why?. Be- cause Norton had a style that Ali just could not cope with. In comparing Pender and Hagler, it is interesting to note that neither champion was ever beaten by the same opponent twice, tn Hagler's case, with the exception of Ray Leonard, he avenged ev- ery one of his losses. Pender had a record of 48 bouts with 40 wins (20 KOs}, 6 losses, and 2 draws. Paul was stopped on 3 occasions. He fought a total of 345 rounds. Hagler's record stands at 67 total bouts with 62 wins (52 KOs}, 3 losses, and 2 draws. He had a total of 398 rounds fought in his career. Maixin was never stopped. Pender fought most of his fights in the 1950s; his pro career began in 1949 and ended in 1962. Hagler's ran from 1973 until 1987. So, what makes this an interesting fight? Well, first off, since this is all conjec- ture, let's assume each con- testant has a piece of a di- vided Middleweight Crown. Remember that when Pender won the title from Sugar Ray Robinson, the majority of gov- erning bodies did not recog- nize it. In promoting the bout at the Boston Garden, it would not only be built up as a championship match be- tween two local fighters, but two local fighters with a claim to the title. The winner would walk away as the undisputed titlehold-er, great motivation for both of them. This would probably be the only time in history that the Boston Gar- den would be sold out for a box- ing match. Pender and Hagler would both enter the ring su- premely confident. Marvin having taken out Thomas Hearns in one of the great- est fights of all-time, and Paul having defeated the great Sugar Ray Robinson twice. Neither man would be in- timidated by the other. Now to their styles: Pender is thought of as a boxer, but he was reaIly a boxer- puncher. He moved fast on his feet, had quick hands, and was a master of the feint. He also had an excellent left hook that he would work off of his jab, sometimes throw- ing it immediately after land- ing a jab, and sometimes feinting with a jab and mov- ing in with the hook. Paul also had power in both hands. Marvin is best known as a lethal puncher, but he could box as well. It was also very difficult to hit him with a clean shot. He kept his chin tucked down and had excel- lent head movement. Once he had an opponent hurt, he would finish him off. Marvin was always in excellent: shape and had a burning desire to win that never abated throughout his career. The two Hagler fights that give us a clue to how Pender would have done against him are the Duran and Leonard bouts. Duran, like Pender, was a master at feinting, Marvelous Marvin Hagler though he used more body feints than Paul. That feint- ing kept Marvin a bit on edge and made the fight competi- tive. He ended up winning a much closer decision then most experts expected. Leonard showed how move- ment could be a problem for Marvin. Of course, there was a lot more going on in. that bout that I will not get into here, but it did show that a boxer who kept his cool, stuck to a plan, and fought in flur- ries could be a problem for Mar~rin. Perlder could do all of that. Paul"s most effective weap- ons ~against Marvin would be his footwork, his left hook off a jab feint, and his follow-up right hand. He would be mov- ing ira and out, attacking and retreating, moving side to side. All of this would give Marvin a lot of trouble, but for how long? While Paul would be frus- trating Marvin, he most likely would not be able to get a clear shot off on Hagler's chin. Hagler would start in- creasing the pressure and begirl cutting the ring off on the lBrookline native in the hope of cornering him and landing a barrage of punches in order to at least slow him down. This would be difficult, but raot impossible to do, as Pender was always thinking in there and did not tire. I think this would have been a very interesting fight. Remember, I am talking about both of these champi- ons meeting in their primes with the title.at stake. It would also be a fifteen-round match and both would be local favorites. I am going to leave the }rot- come up to my readers, but I do believe this fight would have gone the distance and the fans would have gotten their money's worth. Paul Pender defeating Sugar Ray Robinson. The Hearns-Flagler epic battle. It's less than a month be- .fore the Celtics leave the USA for Europe to take on Olimpia Milano in Italy as part of this year's NBA Global Games Europe. While it's officially a pre- season exhibition game on the schedule of the Green and White, we have a feeling it will be anything but that when the teams take to the court at the Mediolanum Fo- rum in Milan on October 6th. It should be obvious that When any NBA team travels overseas for international competition, the teams in the host nations have circled the date. It would be a feather in thecap of any European team to defeat the Celtics~ a team that has won the NBA Championship some 17 times. So, just because those who design the schedule at NBA headquarters in New York City have designated it as a preseason affair -- meaning it has absolutely no bearing on the standings m try tell- ing that to their Italian hosts. In a scheduling quirk, both teams will travel long dis- tances in order to play the game. The Celtics will be coming direct from their training camp location in Waltham while Olimpia Milano will also be coming from the United States, hav- ing just concluded a two-game swing in the U.S. Milano will play Maccabi Electra Tel Aviv in Chicago on October Ist and in New York's Madison Square Garden on October 4th -- only-48 hours before playing the Celtics in Italy on October 6th. So, since it will be the opening game of the pre- season for the Celtics, they should arrive well-rested and ready for action. Compare that with Olimpia Milano, whose players will be return- ing from a 7,000 mile, one- week road trip and will be forced to play the Celtics on only one day of rest. "We will play in Chicago and New York against Maccabi and then head home to Italy to play the Celtics," said Olimpia Milano President Flavio Portaluppi in a press release. "It will be an exciting week for us as a team. We appre- ciate the opportunity to play such a spectacular opponent in front of our loyal fans." And, of course, everything will be on the line for some of the Celtics The C's will be bringing their full train- ing camp roster to the con- test, meaning there will be several players participating who hope to impress third year coach Brad Stevens enough to win a coveted spot on the regular season ros- ter. In reality, they will be playing for a place in the NBA, knowing that being sent down to the NBA Devel- opment League is the alter- native. That Should encour- age all th6se newcomers to move around a little faster. The game is the first of two matchups the Green will play in Europe. Two days later on October 8, the Celtics will take on Real Madrid, the reigning Euroleague cham- pion, in Madrid, Spain. They will then fly back to the U.S. where they will play the re- maining five games of their preseason schedule. In addition, the Celtics will play a regular season game outside the U.S. this year when they travel south of the border to take on the Sacramento Kings (and former Celtic Rajon Rondo) in Mexico City on December 3rd . The Celtics and the NBA are no strangers to travel. In the league's early years, barnstorming was a tradi- tional feature of the NBA and the Celtics often hit the road for places not on the regular season NBA road map. This could be for exhibition games, followed by even a different town for a practice. Fast forward more than half a century and it's the same deal, except that the places visited are now in other countries rather than within New England So there will be a lively ex- pectation in the air when the Celtics leave on their European swing, playing the dual roles of ambassadors of the game as well as the NBA. And make no mistake: Olimpia Milano is no weak team. It has won 26 Italian League championships and three Euroleague titles. The game in Milan will be the seventh contest that The Celtics have played in Eu- rope and their second matchup in Milan. They pre- viously played there in 2012. At least one member of the current Celtics front office remembers the team's first trip to Europe -- in 1988, when they beat the Yugloslav national team and Real Madrid to win the McDonald's Championship. That would be Celtics President of Bas- ketball Operations Danny Ainge who was a member of the squad that featured the "Big Three" of Larry Bird, Kevin McHale and Robert Parish, along with fellow Hall of Fame player Dennis Johnson. "On behalf of the Celtics organization, we are proud to return to Milan for the NBA Global Games," said Ainge in a press release. "I have par- ticularly fond memories of playing in Europe almost 30 years ago. I am sure our cur- rent players will relish this unique opportunity." One player with Milano that might be familiar to NBA fans is Olimpia team captain Alessandro Gentile, the 53rd pick in the 2014 draft by Minnesota. "It is a great opportunity to measure ourselves against a terrific team," rioted Gentile in a press release. "We are looking forward to the game and will try our best to be com- petitive and give our fans a reason to be proud of us." We also look forward to the game as the Celtics return to the court for a preview of the 2015-2016 season.