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Articles of 2005

Judah, Baldomir meet the press

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SHOWTIME CHAMPIONSHIP BOXING begins its 20th year of televising fights with a world championship doubleheader on Jan. 7, 2006 (9 p.m., ET/PT, delayed on the west coast). Undisputed world welterweight champion Zab “Super” Judah defends against WBC No. 1 welterweight contender Carlos Baldomir in one of the world title fights. In the SHOWTIME co-feature, WBC/WBA champion Jean-Marc Mormeck faces IBF champion O’Neil Bell in a cruiserweight world title unification bout.

Judah: I respect Carlos for making it to the point where he made it at, but I am at a point right now where I am proving to the world that I am the best pound-for-pound fighter out there.  And it just so happened that Carlos Baldomir is in my weight and he is going to be a prime example of how I am going to show everybody that I am the best. 

Baldomir: I would like to thank everybody and wish them a happy holiday, Merry Christmas, and Feliz Navidad. Zab’s record speaks for itself, so nobody has to confirm the greatness he has already achieved. We are honored to come into the ring with him, but we still have to lace him up.

Question: Zab, do you have any further opening comments?

Judah: I am honored to be fighting the No. 1 mandatory challenger.  I look forward to this.  I am just looking to go in and prove to the world that I am the best.  I am sorry that it has to be Carlos right now, but I am definitely going to go in there and I definitely am going to prove a point.  I am happy to be back home in New York City.  It is going to be beautiful.

Question: Carlos, do you have any further opening comments?

Baldomir: I really think I am going to win.  I am confident in my preparation and in myself.  For me, it will not be a surprise when I win.

Question: Zab, what will it be like defending your title in your backyard, New York?

Judah: It is a dream come true.  I have not fought here since capturing my undisputed crown over another good fighter, another mandatory fighter.  I knocked him out on the first round and I am going to go out there to show that I am the best. I am looking for the big matchup and a big showdown with “Pretty Girl” (Floyd) Mayweather and I want it to look good.

Question: Zab, how difficult is it to focus on a guy like Baldomir when the prospect of a real big money fight looms if you win?

Judah: Well, I would never overlook Baldomir because he is the person coming in who could spoil all the stuff.  I am most focused on him because of the Mayweather fight.  I am looking to go in there and show to the world that I am the best.

Question: Zab, are you predicting a first or second round knockout?

Judah: I am not going to predict that, but that is what I am working on. I am looking to go in there and come out in spectacular fashion. I am home. I have got to give him a good New York welcome.

Question: Zab, will all of your title belts be on the line in this fight or just your WBC title?

Judah: I put everything on the line.  I have got my pride, my ego and my career, which is most important above anything, that is on the line.  But the WBC belt is what this fight is about.

Question: Zab, is it difficult to have to be in training over the holiday season when most people would rather be enjoying the time off at the end of the year?

Judah: I want to be home with my family, but it is an accomplishment to be on the road working right now, because at the top of the year, I start boxing.  I start the year 2006 with the first fight of the year – a mega fight – and I am going in to set the tone.  That is what boxers have got to do, and those who cannot follow are going to look very, very bad.

Question: Zab, what about Cory Spinks?  Do you feel any responsibility to give him a rematch?

Judah: I will give Cory Spinks a rematch at any point, any time that he chooses.  I think right now, Cory does not want a rematch.  I think he is looking to move on to other things.  But he is a good friend of mine and I have the utmost respect for him.

Question: Zab, do you think it could be a problem staying focused on this fight?

Judah: The fight is really what I am focused on, the whole event of the fight. The event of the fight is Zab Judah coming home to New York City.  Our fans are very, very tough on you.  So if you do not go in there and do what you got to do, you get no love around here.  Carlos Baldomir is coming to my backyard, and believe me, this will not be another Zab Judah-Cory Spinks – trust me.

Question: Zab, are you taking any lessons from what you did with Cory?

Judah: Definitely.  I watched everything that Cory did leading up to the fight. I am the best fighter in the world.  I am not worried about Baldomir. I have been training since September for this fight.  I am in tremendous condition.

Question: Carlos, what are your strengths and what are Judah’s weaknesses?

Baldomir: I think the weakness for Zab is he cannot take a good punch in the chin.  I definitely think I can put him down.  Having Amilcar Brusa as my trainer gives me a lot of confidence because he already fought Judah once (Brusa trained Omar Weiss).

Question: Zab, what do you think the odds are that the Mayweather fight will be made?

Judah: We had a good meeting the other day and it is looking really good right now. Mayweather wants to have a non-title fight where he can get all the money.  Everyone he calls out, money issues always come to that. As long as I come to the board and I walk away with what I want, I am happy.

Question: So (but would) you really would not be surprised if the fight did not happen?

Judah: I would not be surprised.

Question: Zab, how is training going for you in New York?

Judah: Oh, it is excellent.  All it does is put me back to where I belong.  I can adapt very well to where I am at right now.

Question: Who are you using for sparring partners right now?

Judah: I am burning two dudes.  I have knocked out like eight different sparring partners, world champions and all.  I am not going to use anybody’s name, because I am not trying to embarrass anybody.  But I am on a roll right now and I am not playing.

Question: Zab, tell us about the journey you have had, from the low point in your career to becoming an undisputed champion?

Judah: To once be on top, and then to lose everything and come back and get it again, it is a beautiful thing. I am just proud of myself and proud of my team and everybody that participates with the whole Zab Judah camp in preparing us and getting us ready for every fight.

Question: Zab, in the weeks and months after it first happened, did you ever doubt yourself or did you always know that you would bounce back like this?

Judah: I knew I would bounce back because I knew I had to fight with Kostya Tszyu.  It is not that you are a bum or a garbage fighter, it can happen to anyone.  It is how you come back and show the world that you are the best.  I came back with flying colors.

Question: Zab, are you frustrated by having to fight two mandatories in a row?

Judah: The IBF. WBA and WBC have all been great to me.  This is what they put in front of me, so I have to go in there and deal with it.  But I would love to be right now, Jan. 7, in a lockdown date with Mayweather or (Shane) Mosley or a rematch with Cory Spinks.  That would be beautiful to me.  But I do not want anybody to overlook Carlos Baldomir because he has done a great deal of putting himself here.  His team has done a great thing in bringing him to this point.  We want to give him his 30 seconds of fame because that is probably all the fight might last.  Give him 30 seconds of fame and let him live.

Question: So you look at the mandatory fights as part of the job?

Judah: It is a job.  I look at it as more like extra credit.

Question: How do you expect to knock out a guy who has only been stopped once?

Judah: If he wants to stand up and get beat up then that will be it.  But at the end of the fight, I will still be the undisputed.  Take it how you want it, but there will be no lucky shots.  Carlos Baldomir is another person that is going to find out what Zab Judah is made up of.

Question: So with the possibility of a Mayweather fight, do you feel like it is in your best interest to try to get him out of there as quickly as possible?

Judah: Well, definitely.  (But) Whether it goes one or 12, it is all about a win.

Question: Zab, if a Mayweather fight does not come off, how about inviting Tszyu for a  rematch?

Judah: He has a personal invitation from Zab Judah and anytime that he feels that he is ready to step up to the plate, I am ready to show the world that that was a fluke.  I showed everybody with Cory Spinks when I came back.  I am ready for Kostya Tszyu.

Question: Carlos, do you have any experience with the type of quick southpaw that Judah is?

Baldomir: I have a special game plan and I will not reveal it now.  But definitely I will throw the counter punch and use my right and my left hook to the victory.

Question: Zab, would you take Tszyu out quicker than Hatton did?

Judah: I promise you.  I had him in the first round; you saw that.  He was holding on for life.  My speed and power is nothing to play with.  A lot of guys look at it and take it for a joke.  But you see time and time again they hit the floor like dust.

Question: Which is the biggest fight?  What means the most to you?

Judah: The Mayweather fight, definitely.  It is a bigger money fight. The world wants to see it.  Excitement is what thrills the people.  If somehow the Mayweather fight does not happen, I am welcoming with open arms Kostya Tszyu.

Question: Carlos, are you feeling disrespected about hearing all the questions about future fights for Judah?

Baldomir: I really do not care what people are saying.  And to Mayweather, do not feel disappointed (if) you do not fight with Judah. You will be fighting with me.

Question: Carlos, can you comment on Zab’s claims that his sparring partners are beating you up in camp?

Baldomir: Let him think that is what is happening and we will just go by that. 

Question: Zab, how hard do you think this fight is going to be?

Judah: I am focused. That is it. I will get him out of the way so I can go on to bigger and better things.

Question: Carlos, you are 17-0-2 in your last 19 fights.  What fight, after starting your career, turned it around for you where you got the confidence to go on?

Baldomir: After I won the WBC International title in Italy in April 1999, I definitely felt I would be a world champion.  So I trained really hard.  That is when my mind changed.

Question: Zab, what is your walking around weight between fights and how long do you feel you will be at 147?

Judah: I do not know.  Usually I walk around like 155, sometimes 160.  It depends on how long the layoff.  If a fight at 154 opened up and it looked good, I would definitely take it.  But I will always hold on to my undisputed crown.

Question: Zab,  confidence-wise, what is the difference between the Judah of today and the Judah of the past?

Judah: I am at the point in my career right now where I am going to do big things.  So basically I think what got me so confident and so excited right now is that I am coming home to the Garden and in spectacular fashion.

Question: So the expectations are going to be real high when you are in front of your home fans?

Judah: I am looking to come here and blow them away.  He is a puncher and he is stronger, but meet me in the middle of the ring and let us see where he is at.  I have never been scared.

Question: Zab, talk about the pressures of fighting at home in front of your own crowd from a different perspective – friends calling for tickets, everybody wanting a piece of you.  Does that bother your training?

Judah: I have been in the Garden before.  So  know how to prepare for things.  You have to train hard, you have to get here, stay low, and then fight.  You do not stay out in the open.  You do not make yourself accessible to people.

Question: Carlos, how do you plan on dealing with Judah’s speed and power?

Baldomir: I know what I am going to do in the ring. I will definitely go forward.  I will never go back.  I will go forward.

End Press Questions.  Begin Closing Comments.

Baldomir: I am really annoyed with everything Zab is saying about me.  I will just wait until Jan. 7 and that will be the end of Judah.

Judah: I understand what Carlos has accomplished in the past, but trust me, this is not an easy task.  Ask all those guys in L.A.  They will tell you I am not an easy task.

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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