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December 4, 2015

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PAGE 16 BOSTON POST-GAZEI-I'E, DECEMBER 4, 2015 HOOPS and HOCKEY in the HUB by RichardPre s Rest in .Peace Bob Foster Great Light Heavyweight Champion Answers His Final Bell Foster wins the title from Tiger. Bob Foster. Former Light Heavyweight Champion Bob Foster passed away on November 21 st at the age of 77 in Albuquerque, New Mexico, his lifelong home. Bob was one of the all-rime great champions. He possessed deadly power in both hands and dominated the light heavy- weight division for six years. Foster won the title in dev- astating fashion with a fourth round knock out of Dick Tiger. Tiger was knocked out cold by a Foster left hook and layuncon- scious for a number of minutes after being dropped. It was a bittersweet victory for Foster as he had waited a long time for his chance at the rifle. He also made peanuts for the fight. Talk is he had to sell out to some shady characters in order to get his hard-earned chance at the championship. When I think back on Fos- ter's career, a few fights stand out in my mind including the Tiger match. I don't think there Foster tags a cut Ali. Foster and Jack Dempsey. is a fight fan alive that lived during that era who will forget his destruc- tion of Mike Quar- ry. In 1972, as the co-featured bout along with the Ali vs. Jerry Quarry fight, Bob took on Jerry's younger brother. Mike put up a valiant effort, but Foster was way too much for the challenger. Using shoulder feints, Bob set Quarry up for a left hook that left young Mike unconscious even before he hit the canvas. Quite a number of minutes passed before he was able to open his eyes. Most peo- ple, including Fos- ter, feared he would not recover. Another match that comes to mind was Foster's defense of the title against Frankie DePaula of New Jersey. Rumor has it that Bob agreed to carry Frankie for a number of rounds to make him look good and that DePaula double crossed him by going all out early and actually drop- ping the unsuspecting Foster. Frankie may have thought he was going to sneak his way to the title, but when the champi- on arose, he promptly dropped DePaula three times to score a knockout victory. I remember Foster being in- terviewed after the fight, and he didn't say much but was obviously seething at what happened. Again, tales of mob Foster drops DePaula. involvement in his career were in play here. Bob did challenge once for the heavyweight title, but was kayoed in the second round by Joe Frazier. He did not have the strength to stand up to doe's furious onslaught. Foster also fought Muham- mad Ali. Bob was dropped seven times in what could be con- sidered a very one-sided fight; however, he did cut Ali and also managed to hurt him on three occasions with straight right hands. He just did not have the body strength to hold up to the bigger man. Bob defended the title 14 times before retiring in 1974. He made a brief comeback af- ter that, but would never again fight for a world rifle. He became a sheriff in his home town of Albuquerque, New Mexico where he lived the rest of his life. Bob Foster fought in a time when there were many good fighters competing in the ring. Unfortunately, many of these fighters never made any money. I don't believe Foster retired with a nest egg. It is ironic that such a great fighter would end up not having become rich from the sport. Today, you see so many guys who couldn't lace up Foster's shoes walldng away with multimillion dollar purses after fighting terrible matches. Rest In Peace, Bob Foster. You were a great Champion and those who appreciate real box- ing will never forget you. Remember, at least according to Bruins President Cam Neely and Head Coach Claude Julien, it's all about Thanksgiving. That's the day where the two Bruins leaders agree that the standings offer a pretty good picture concerning how things will wind up at the end of the regular season come April. It's not a perfect predictor, mind you, but it is a snapshot of how things stand roughly at the one quarter mark of the season. Enough games have been played to see trends de- veloping -- both on the positive side and the negative side -- to make assessments concerning the remainder of the regular season. So, where were the B's on Thanksgiving morn as many drove off to Thanksgiving high school football games while oth- ers remained at home preparing for the feast to come later in the day? The Bruins were parked in a third place tie with Detroit and Tampa Bay in the Atlantic Division. The B's owned a 12- 8-1 record through 21 games, good enough for 25 points, four behind second place Ottawa (29 points through 22 games) and 11 behind hot starter Montreal (36 points through 23 games). Standings in the division are important because the top three teams in each of the 4 divisions make up the first 12 teams of the 16-team field in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. The remaining four spots are filled by the next two highest placed teams in each conference, regardless of division. Stretch that out to include the entire Eastern Conference and the Black and Gold found them- selves tied for the sixth spot at Thanksgiving. Montreal still led the entire conference, followed by the hard-charging New York Rangers. Then came Washing- ton, Ottawa and Pittsburgh. The B's were only six points behind Washington and can move up to third ff their now-winning ways continue. Dallas led the Western Con- ference followed by St. Louis, Nashville, Los Angeles, Chicago, San Jose, Minnesota and Van- couver. So, if the Stanley Cup field was selected based on the standings on Thanksgiving Day, the B's would make the playoffs by virtue of their being in third place in the Atlantic Division -- but by the'thinnest of mar- gins -- decided by tie-breakers. That sixth spot in the Confer- ence also was on super-thin ice, with tie-breakers elevating the B's out of a four-way traffic jam. One slipup and they would tumble to ninth. Even at this early juncture one has to wonder if the season is essentially over for Eastern Conference cellar dwellers Buf- falo and Columbus and their counterparts in the West -- Ed- monton, Colorado, and Calgary. But you never know. Recall that in the 2009-2010 season, Philadelphia was having trouble winning but changed coaches and brought in Peter Laviolette early in December. The Frank- lin, Massachusetts. native was no stranger to challenges and success. He had led the Caro- lina Hurricanes to the Stanley Cup Championship back in 2006. It took the remaining four months of the regular sea- son, but the Flyers managed to keep rising and squeezed into the playoffs by defeating the Rangers via a shootout in the last game of the regular season. They then proceeded to win their way through the first three rounds of the playoffs before coming up just two games short of the ultimate prize in the Stan- ley Cup Final. While the Flyers were on their way, the B's were one of their victims. Bruins fans might like to forget, but in the second round series the B's were up 3-0 in games before Philly came back and won the next three to force a seventh and deciding contest. The B's proceeded to take a 3-0 lead in that matchup before the Flyers roared from behind to capture the game and the series -- and move on to the next round. But back to the present where there's plenty of hockey left -- enough remaining so that virtu- ally anything can happen. But for two NHL veterans -- Neely and Julien -- the snapshot of the league provided by the standings on Thanksgiving re- mains a pretty good indicator of how things will look at the con- clusion of the regular season. If so, the B's will win a tight battle for one of the playoff spots, either divisional or conference wide. They could also move up to fourth or higher in the Eastern Conference and grab a guaranteed home ice berth for the first round. But if they slip, it could be another quiet spring in Boston. It's certainly better to be on the upside of the Thanksgiving Day standard, as the Bruins were when turkey was served. But their placement was razor thin, with no comfort zone in place and the lengthy remainder of the season left to be played. Snapshots are a moment in time, but the final standings are for all time. It is those standings that determine which teams will advance and play in the Stanley Cup: It is for those we must wait so that a crystal clear picture can come into focus. Until then, the season is a work in prog- ress. One can take a frame out of a roll of film and examine it, but it is the entire reel that tells the story. So also with the 2015- 2016 regular season. We l just have to wait and see what the end of the reel reveals.