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Articles of 2005

Boxing Predictions: Hopkins vs. Eastman

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The Sweet Science writers offer their predictions on the big fight in LA.

Hopkins by decision.
Mitch Abramson

Hopkins hasn't shown signs of wear and tear, but the rugged, aggressive Eastman may be strong enough to expose “Ex” as a 40-year-old waiting to be taken. But don't count on it. Hopkins is a well-preserved 40, and may be the one 160-pounder who is stronger and tougher than Eastman. An entertaining scrap through the first eight rounds turns into a rout through the championship rounds – as Eastman takes a William Joppy-style whuppin'. Hopkins by unanimous decision.
Matt Aguilar

Hopkins by KO. Is there really any doubt about this one? Love Eastman's beard, though.
Steve Argeris

If Hopkins can’t beat this guy, he should retire right now. But I don’t see that as a decision Bernard will have to make any time soon. I like Hopkins by 7th-round TKO. He’ll do it with the right hand.
“Irish” Bobby Cassidy

Bernard Hopkins gets better with age. He has displayed superior skills since his monumental win over Felix Trinidad. There is no slowing him down, particularly against Eastman. Hopkins TKO 11.
Robert Cassidy Jr.

Eastman will do far less clowning in this fight, knowing that far more is at stake then ever before. He may even fight well enough to be ahead on the cards after four or five rounds. But once Bernard gets into his groove, he'll take over and never look back. Eastman will remain competitive for a minute, but will ultimately fall behind and never catch up. Hopkins by decision.
Jake Donovan

Ya gotta love B-Hop. It’s going to be long time before we see his likes again. If Eastman wants what Hopkins has, he’s going to have to go and get it. There’s only one problem . . . and that problem’s name is Bernard Hopkins. The Battersea Bomber has never faced this quality of opposition before, and no matter what happens in LA Saturday night, he’s not going to face this quality of opposition again. Eastman will try but won’t be able to hurt Bernard. The Executioner executes Eastman in the late rounds and sends him back to Battersea on his shield.
Robert Ecksel

Hopkins by decision in a tough fight. There's too much on the line for Hopkins to not take this fight seriously (20th title defense, big money fights down the road). As for Eastman, he can sneak up on you if he's given the chance. Hopkins won't give it to him.
Rick Folstad

Bernard Hopkins is perhaps a more exceptional man than he is a fighter – and that is saying something. His mental discipline and ability to focus make him the exceptional athlete he is, more so than his physical skills. With his thirties now receding into the distance one has to wonder if one of these nights Hopkins is going to be had. Could Eastman be the man to do it? By all accounts this is a fight Eastman has wanted for some time and actually believes he can win. That self-belief will be crucial come Saturday night. Hopkins now has the kind of mystique which can have a paralyzing effect on opponents come the moment of truth. I believe Hopkins has done well to cultivate this reputation, but it is exaggerated. Hopkins is a schooled technician, but I feel his reputation may exceed his ability at this moment in time. The one thing that worries me about Eastman, however, is the fact he has not fought at the elite level enough. I do not expect Hopkins to steamroll Eastman. Eastman has a legitimate shot, but he will have to have the night of his life. It could happen, but is it likely? In all likelihood, come the championship rounds Hopkins takes over what to that point is a relatively close fight and notches his 20th win. Hopkins by Unanimous Decision
Chris Gielty

Sooner or later, the 40-ish Hopkins is going to fall apart. He may show signs of it tonight, but not enough to make him an ex-champion. B-Hop by decision.
Randy Gordon

Hopkins by late knockout. A few years back I used to predict Hopkins losses because I figured age was due to catch up to him. Now I'm not going to go against The Executioner until I see signs he's slowing down. I certainly haven't seen any yet. That said, I want to go on the record, just in case I have psychic abilities, that Wednesday night I had a dream where Eastman knocked out Hopkins in the early to middle rounds. It's kind of fuzzy, but I think it was the fourth. Then again, I also dreamt I was watching the fight on TV in the Bahamas and woke up to the snowy reminder I was still in Buffalo.
Tim Graham

Eastman's bold predictions of taking Hopkins out in five won't happen. Hopkins has already decided he'll win his 20th title defense, so it's mind over matter.
Amy Green

While Hopkins is the obvious pick – I see a very close, competitive fight. Eastman now has his “Glen Johnson-type shot” and makes the most of it. Hopkins shows why he is one of the best middleweights ever. Good, classic fight. Hopkins unanimous decision victory.  
Mike Indri

“Let me offer up a prayer more than a prediction. Can Howard Eastman PLEASE make a fight out of it! Attack the legend! Give us all something to remember! Everyone in boxing has given Hopkins his just dues for longevity and professionalism. It's time B-Hop got back to fighting real fights. After all, he's the guy who wants to be thought of as master of the halls occupied by Ray Robinson, Carlos Monzon and Marvin Hagler. So, as for Saturday night, Hopkins tops Eastman one way or another. Hopkins UD12 Eastman.
Patrick Kehoe

Eastman should probably be coming into this fight undefeated, but even if he had gotten the nod over Joppy in their fight, would that make him Hopkins' equal? The most logical argument that can be made in Eastman's favor is that a 40-year-old boxer, no matter how great, can suddenly get old in one fight, and we're not going to fall into that trap again. Hopkins by decision.
George Kimball

The “Battersea Bomber” Eastman is a very dangerous opponent for Hopkins at this point. He has major league confidence and backs it up with nasty power. In his fight with Joppy it looked like Eastman could have won that fight and stopped Joppy whenever he wanted, instead he seemed to be soaking in the atmosphere and waited too long to drop Joppy, who made it to the bell and won the fight. Since that time Eastman has been waiting for another chance and finally gets it. I expect him to make the most of it. Physically the two matchup well and Eastman has the bigger one-punch power, although Hopkins wears people down as well as anyone. 'Nard hasn't faced anyone like Eastman and “big” victories over “little” men like De La Hoya and Trinidad do little to impress, as the bigger man is supposed to beat the littler man when they meet in the ring. Did Hopkins beat a middleweight De La Hoya or a welterweight? Hopkins looked rather ordinary against Robert Allen and also against Joppy, who only fought to survive. When Hopkins faces a similar foe with more power it will be interesting to see how he handles it. At 40 years of age, Father Time and lack of motivation to face the British invader will catch up with Hopkins here. Eastman forces the action and turns the fight into a war he can win – and does.
Joey Knish

Eastman is not a bad fighter. In fact, he's pretty decent. He's awkward and his punches sometimes come from odd angles. I think he makes this fight much closer than people are expecting. Hopkins is always in great shape, but one has to wonder if he'll be as hungry this time, after competing in a mega fight last time. Hopkins wins by unanimous decision but not by an especially wide margin.
Marc Lichtenfeld

As with all predictions involving a 40-year-old fighter, age is a factor. One of these nights Hopkins is going to show up on fight night gift wrapped with nothing inside. I just can't make a case for Eastman other than Hopkins’ age. On top of that, if Eastman goes on the attack too aggressively, as indicated by his 5th round knockout prediction, he'll be playing into Hopkins' strength: having opponents come at him. Hopkins is too complete to pick against him in this spot. Hopkins by UD.
Frank Lotierzo

Eastman deserves the shot but has only one formula to win. Hopkins can counter him to pieces or win from in front. I'll start picking against Hopkins when he gives me a reason.  Hopkins KO 7.
David Mayo

As we have seen in the past year with the defeats of Tyson, Jones and De La Hoya, nobody is unbeatable. That includes Hopkins, although he seems to be at the top of his game. While I can see a virtual unknown uncrowning him down the road, Eastman won't be the one to do it. I seem to remember him talking a good game against William Joppy, but taking the path of least resistance when the bell rang. 
Robert Mladinich

There are a number of intriguing symmetries between Hopkins and Eastman. Both arrived at genuine world championship level late in their respective careers. Both are fiercely determined, well schooled, strong and with solid chins. Both are the product of tough backgrounds that seem to have been the catalyst for their unshakeable single-mindedness and self-belief. On that basis you could contemplate an argument that this fight will represent a passing of the torch from the veteran champion with the withering tongue to the brusque semi-veteran challenger. You could even argue Eastman is stronger, fresher and more motivated. You could argue Hopkins hasn't fought anyone as big, strong and determined as Eastman for years. You could argue Hopkins might get old overnight. You could argue a lot of things. But the bottom line is, Hopkins does everything better than Eastman. And like most things in boxing, it all boils down to the bottom line. Hopkins UD12.
David Payne

I've always regarded Howard Eastman as an underappreciated boxer who should have received more opportunities at the big titles. Hopkins is in for a tougher ride than I believe he expects. This is the fight of Eastman's life. Hopkins has already had a few of those. While I still favor Hopkins to win by points, Eastman could take it by a late stoppage.
Deon Potgieter

If Howard Eastman, the 34-year-old Battersea Bomber, could fight with his mouth, Bernard Hopkins might have a problem. “I have been boxing since I was six,” said Eastman. “Not many people can say that.”  Well, no. “Since that age I have been working upward.” Means he grew from the age of six, which a lot of folks can say. “I have God on my side and courage in my heart. Hopkins will not deny me my destiny.” Yeah, right. Pick here is Hopkins to deny Eastman his destiny by unanimous decision.
Pat Putnam

I don't know what makes Eastman tick. Does anyone? He's clearly very talented and, unlike the last eccentric British fighter, Kirkland Laing, clean-living. But he definitely went to sleep for periods of the Joppy fight, and Hopkins is going to be in his face all the time. Funnily enough, I think that might spur Eastman to keep his concentration this time. And Hopkins? You can pick holes in his quality of opposition. Against Jones a decade ago he looked very one-dimensional. Clearly he has improved a lot. But he's in his 40th year. I've always thought it would take a thinking boxer to beat him. I'll gamble that Eastman is that man, by points decision. But he'll have to fight the perfect fight.
Jonathan Rendall

Bernard Hopkins by a modest unanimous decision. The Executioner has the potential for two mega-fights before riding off into the sunset at the end of the year. He will not risk that by slugging it out with the wacky Howard Eastman. Hopkins will use his height and reach advantage to methodically earn his 20th title defense.
Aaron Tallent

This is more of a “keep busy” fight than a serious title defense for Hopkins. Eastman has never beaten top opposition and will stay around in this one for as long as Bernard allows him. Father Time is going to catch up to Bernard one of these nights; it is just not going to be on this particular night. Hopkins takes Eastman out with a late round TKO.
Scott Yaniga

Articles of 2005

In Boxing News: Floyd Mayweather An All-Time Great, Valuev & More

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A Shot of Boxing on the Last Day of the Year

The Guardian reports that talks have already taken place between Nicolay Valuev‘s co-promoters – Don King and Wilfried Sauerland – and Danny Williams‘ promoter Frank Warren for Nicolay Valuev to face Danny Williams. I’d suggest Danny Williams needs to worry about Matt Skelton (who Williams is reportedly scheduled to fight in February) before he entertains notions of facing the Beast From The East.

The Mirror in the UK looks forward to a big year in boxing for 2006. The Mirror considers what the future might bring for Joe Calzaghe, Amir Khan and Ricky Hatton, among others.

The Parksville Qualicum News has an interesting column on the travails of former Canadian Super Middleweight title holder Mark Woolnough. Woolnough’s career turned controversial – as widely reported in the Canadian press – at the beginning of this year when Woolnough and four other men were charged with manslaughter and assault after a fight outside a Parksville nightclub. The case returns to court next month. It’s an interesting read, as Woolnough is still looking to the future with hope.

Our own Marc Lichtenfeld provides plenty of food for thought with his Top Ten Wish List for boxing in the New Year. There’s plenty of good stuff here, but what really jumped out for me is Lichtenfeld’s opinion that a win over Zab Judah could have Floyd Mayweather knocking on the door of all-time great status. Seems to me this might be jumping the gun a little. Or is Marc right? Will it soon be time to call Floyd Mayweather Jr. an all-time great?

(More Boxing News Links at TheSweetScience.com)

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Articles of 2005

ShoBox Friday Night Fights

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Hot bantamweight prospect Raul “The Cobra” Martinez heads back to Chicago next Friday night as he is featured in the co-main event of SHOBOX “THE NEW GENERATION,” an action packed evening of professional boxing presented by Dominic Pesoli’s 8 Count Productions,’ HOME OF THE BEST IN CHICAGO BOXING, Kathy Duva’s Main Events Inc., along with Miller Lite and TCF Bank.

The two-time national amateur champion sporting a perfect 12-0 record with 9 knockouts, six of which have come in the first round,  will take on Colombian Andres “Andy Boy” Ledesma, 13-1 (8 KOs) in a scheduled eight round bout.

Speaking after a training session at his home gym in Georgetown, Texas, Martinez said, “I’m truly looking forward to returning to Chicago. The fans were terrific in September, they were very supportive from the start of the fight,” an internationally televised first round knockout of Miguel Martinez on September 16th at the Aragon Ballroom.

Regarding his upcoming fight with Ledesma, “The Cobra” said, “I haven’t seen him fight, although I understand he’s fought at higher weights and will be naturally bigger than me. I’ve had great training for this fight and feel very confident. I really haven’t left the gym in months, just taking off Sunday’s and even then I get my running in. My thinking is that fights are won in the gym and complete preparation is the key.”

When asked about his being mentioned by Dan Rafael, ESPN’s boxing writer as one of the top prospect’s in the boxing world the 23-year-old San Antonio native said, ‘It’s a great compliment, but I still have much work to do. I want to be a champion for Main Events like Fernando Vargas and Arturo Gatti. But like Fernando said while he was in town, ‘be patient, work hard and your time will come.’”

Finishing the conversation, Martinez said, “I’m looking forward to starting out this year with a bang. I might have a couple less fights than the seven I had in 2005, but I’m looking to stepping up the competition, move up to ten-rounders and climb in the rankings.”

Headlining the evening is a ten-round welterweight showdown between boxing’s hottest prospect, unbeaten Joel Julio of Monteria, Columbia, and Ugandan native Roberto “The Doctor” Kamya. Julio, turning 21 years old the day before the fight, is 25-0 with 22 knockouts, twelve of which have come in the first two rounds. Kamya, now fighting out of West Palm Beach, Florida is 15-5 with four knockouts.

Tickets, starting at $30, are on sale in advance by calling 312-226-5800. Cicero Stadium is located at 1909 S. Laramie, at the corner of 19th and Laramie, just ten minutes south of the Eisenhower Expressway and ten minutes north of the Stevenson Expressway. Doors for this evening will open at 6pm with the first bell at 7pm.

The full bout lineup for the evening is:

Joel Julio vs. Roberto Kamya, ten rounds, welterweights

Raul Martinez vs. Andres Ledesma, eight rounds, bantamweights

Miguel Hernandez vs. Butch Hajicek, eight rounds, middleweights

David Pareja vs. Derek Andrews, eight rounds, light heavyweights

Mike Gonzales vs. Tony Kinney, four rounds, lightweights

Omar Reyes vs. Luis Navarro, five rounds, featherweights

Reynaldo Reyes vs. Ricardo Swift, four rounds, middleweights

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Articles of 2005

Pick ‘Em: Plenty of Big Upcoming Fights in ’06

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Here’s the early call on many top matches scheduled for the first half of 2006: Happy New Year!

As the new calendar dawns, there are already a considerable amount of premium bouts on the horizon. Things don’t look to be bogged down by undetermined championships next year. In many cases the scheduled face-offs involve the best fighters in the division, or at least close enough for general bragging rights. If anybody else with proper qualifications signs up to force the issue, all the better.

It can be argued that some pairings could have taken place within a more optimal timeframe, or that some headliners carry distracting baggage, but there are certainly enough heavy hitters on deck. That nobody can deny.

It doesn’t matter whether one considers the proverbial glass half empty or half full; there’s still the same amount of juice in the vessel. It’s nice to know that even with a high number of cancellations, there will still be plenty of important contenders on tap.

With elite fighters in weight divisions from top to bottom on the agenda, it’s an equivalent to what fans in more mainstream sports expect in a consistent championship format.

Baseball fans can almost always count on a World Series. Some hoops fanatics say too much attention to playoffs distracts unmotivated NBA teams during their regular season. In college, they project Sweet Sixteens. Football fans know there’s always a Super Bowl ahead to raise advertising dollars and test the USA’s halftime morals.

So too, there is method in boxing’s current madness.

The midnight crystal ball hasn’t even been unveiled in Times Square and there are already a number of potential thrillers scheduled. Most feature contrasting personalities that almost guarantee going along for the ride will be worthwhile. Any subsequent drops will probably be cheered.

Don King jumps right out of the auld lang gate with a January 7th Showtime card featuring Zab Judah against Carlos Baldomir and Jean-Marc Mormeck in a cruiserweight unification against O’Neil Bell.

It will be the upset of the year, bar none, if Baldomir can tip the applecart before Judah gets to his scheduled super-showdown with Floyd Mayweather Jr. Meanwhile, Mormeck is emerging and should keep on rolling against Bell, who can expose him if he’s not for real.

The proverbial Big Bang starts with a January 21st rematch of one of the finest fights of ‘05, when Erik Morales goes against Manny Pacquaio for the second time on HBO pay per view. The fact that Morales was upset by Zahir Raheem after beating Pacquaio was no real loss in box-office luster. Artful Raheem will get a spot on the undercard and hope his patience is rewarded.

Everyone figures Morales and Pacquaio will pick up where they left off. Like the first time, the rematch is a pick’em contest. Management distractions and glove restrictions cited as Pacquaio’s previous problems won’t matter this time. The two are very evenly matched and their styles will make for another whapathon. It could come down to corners, where Freddie Roach gets the edge since Morales will have a new trainer for the first time since replacing his father after the Raheem lesson.

February features four of the game’s most enduring attractions, in a pair of crucial matchups.

First up, Showtime presents the Jose Luis Castillo – Diego Corrales tiebreaker from El Paso on Feb 4th. This is another pick ‘em pair, barring any sideshow. In boxing that disclaimer may be a stretch, since the sideshow is part of the act and the charm.

As far as action inside the strands goes, every round these guys have fought has been great. There’s no reason to think that pattern won’t continue. Regarding the result, Castillo keeps the pressure on as he did in the second fight, but he’ll walk into trouble from a more reserved Corrales. We still don’t know which coin to flip.

February also holds a better late than never affair between two perennial favorites as Shane Mosley collides with Fernando Vargas on the 25th.  This fight could lead to a winning ticket in the Golden Boy sweepstakes for a fall bonanza against Oscar De La Hoya.

Vargas has been in tougher recently, based on comparable strength of opposition stats, but he’s seen little action. What weight they enter the ring at may have a lot to do with the result. If Vargas has to struggle at the scale, Mosley might have the battle in the bag after round nine.

It’s hard to imagine Mosley getting stopped early, but Vargas doesn’t have to hurt him, he just has to knock him down three times. With natural size, he may be able to do just that, but Mosley would have to box uncharacteristically flat.

Unless Mosley decides to heed the crowd, the most likely scenario is that Shane plays it safe, picks a few shots, and stays away enough to capture a comfortable, dull decision. An unbowed Vargas maintains his fan base but not his bettors.

March both comes in and goes out as a lion.

On March 4th Joe Calzaghe welcomes Jeff Lacy to Manchester UK for what may be the biggest blowout of the headlining bunch. Calzaghe gets the chance to prove his considerable home-based reputation once and for all, but if Lacy creams him as we expect, that glossy record will be severely tarnished.

All Calzaghe has to do is make a respectable stand, but that’s no small task against the rising Lacy. A motivated Calzaghe, songs of England ringing in his ears, could pull a big surprise if he can exploit Lacy’s relatively limited technical development, but that’s a longshot indeed.

It looks like Lacy can get by on power alone. He could soon emerge as a pound-for-pound leader. Old Joe’s hometown advantage will last about two left hooks.

March 11th has the Ides of history to beware for at least one old lion, with farewell (we’ll see) fireworks featuring Roy Jones Jr. against Bernard Hopkins. Less than two years ago they were considered untouchable all time greats. Now between them they’ve lost five in a row.

This goodbye fight is contracted at light heavyweight, for what seems like an oldies night. Hopkins is the senior at age 41 to Jones’s 37, but Roy seems more the grandpa figure, last seen hanging on against Antonio Tarver. Youth, as it were here, will prevail.

This bout was signed quickly as each principal, usually sticklers for favorable contract clauses, agreed to parity in a demonstration of businessman first and fighter second. They may both expect easy marks. How much the boys have left by the time they get down to business remains to be seen. The history books will show this as a climactic career bout between Hall of Famers.

At 175 pounds, Hopkins may be in for rude awakening. Jones may have been more thoroughly outfought recently, but he was rumbling with bigger, tougher men than Jermain Taylor or Howard Eastman. Respectable as he is, Taylor still falls short of the level of Tarver, at least for now. The difference is still fifteen pounds less pop.

It will be quite a feat if Hopkins can stay in the fight, even at Jones’s advanced age. Our stars point to Jones winning in overwhelming fashion.

On March 18th, James Toney meets Hasim Rahman in another pairing of seasoned war-horses.

Toney and Rahman already had their introductions, when they brawled in Mexico during a WBC gathering to bestow Rahman’s new belt. Between formalities, Toney got married, which could bring up the old questions about carnal training.

Let’s hope when they meet in the ring, they restore some of the fire missing from the heavyweights in ‘05.  Toney might have an edge in recent form, but Rahman shows fine tuning he previously lacked. The winner might get newly “crowned’ Nicolai Valuev, an easy payday outside Germany.

Rahman could be the heavyweight that finally makes Toney look like a blown up middleweight. But anything less than a top effort will probably lead to embarrassing night for the Rock and give Toney solid claim to being the true heavyweight champ.

This might not be the most artful fight of the new season, but it could well be the most grueling, and the closest. He who’s faced the better big boys gets the nod. Advantage Rahman.

March 25 features Marco Antonio Barrera, probably the strongest overall claimant to 130 pound honors. The likely opponent is said to be always tough Jesus Chavez.

Chavez seemed rejuvenated when he met Leavander Johnson, but Johnson’s tragic death may have taken some of the steam out of thoughtful Chavez, said to have received Johnson’s family blessing to continue in Leavander’s name. That could mean a lot of inspiration. Either way, if he does meet Chavez, who hung tough with one arm against Erik Morales, Barrera won’t get any slack. The Fates say Chavez, whose wife recently served in Iraq, is a live, live underdog.

Another clash to be King of the Hill finds Floyd Mayweather Jr, arguably the game’s finest practitioner, bumping heads with Zab Judah, one of very few boxers who rivals Mayweather in speed, skills, and brashness.

Their hoedown, scheduled for April 8th, is one of the top pound-for-pound pairings in recent years. Judah will need a career best performance to have a chance of victory. That’s not to say he can’t pull it off, but currently Mayweather is in a different galaxy in terms of punching power. Slow-motion replays may be the only way to follow the flying fists once these two whirlwinds unload.

Mayweather should be around a 4-1 favorite. Judah is good enough to make taking the odds an attractive proposition, since that’s probably as good of odds as one is likely to see on Floyd for a while. Mayweather will stop Judah in his tracks.

The first half of next year is set to conclude with the star power of Oscar De La Hoya, probably against noteworthy foil Ricardo Mayorga on May 6. There could be some snags before a contract is finalized, but if it comes off count on Mayorga for promotional sound bite nastiness. One of the questions is whether or not he’ll be able to get under Oscar’s skin, and it might actually be entertaining to see the classy, model perfect De La Hoya show he’s human and freak out against the Nicaraguan maniac.

Mayorga may have burnt his best bridges already. De La Hoya has not only the boxing skill to negate Mayorga’s offense, but enough power to end it early. If Mayorga rushes in and causes a cut, De La Hoya might get ruffled enough to duck into defense and Mayorga could get a decision that goes to the cards after six rounds or so. It will be wild for as long as it lasts.

Pro boxing, like many sports, had its share of problems during 2005, but there were also many positives. Most notably, as usual, was superior and inspiring action inside the strands. Unless there’s a mass freeze-up at the top, early 2006 figures to see decisive interaction among many well-known fighters.

If even fifty per cent of the aforementioned pairings come to fruition, it’s a strong likelihood the upcoming year has at least one very positive half. Arturo Gatti, Miguel Cotto, Antonio Margarito, Brian Viloria, and Shannon Briggs, to name a few, are also on deck. No matter how you chose to look at or measure mass qualities, there’s still just as much good to be seen.

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