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Articles of 2006

A Roll of the Dice

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Each time I go to a show, no matter where it is, I know it’s a hit or miss affair. Nothing is ever set in stone. Fighters are human, as are those putting on the event, thus you never really know what you’re going to get when you go to a show. You might get the “fan man,” you might see someone’s ear bitten off, the lights may go off during a fight or you could see the referee knocked out instead of one of the fighters. A fighter might have an off-night, he could be sick, he may not have trained the way he should have; any number of reasons could contribute to an unexpected ending.

Fantastic match-ups can turn out to be disappointing and vice-versa. You never really know what’s going to happen – which is what keeps us watching, keeps us coming back. Each fight is just a roll of the dice. Boxing experts and bookies can put forth an educated guess when choosing a winner but they know every fight is just a roll of the dice.

Some of the shows I’ve covered in the last month had me questioning why I shelled out cab fare to get to them – the fights were garbage and a few of the fighters weren’t ready to set foot in the ring, let alone in front of a crowd – however small.

Each time I tell my wife I’m off to the fights, she always feels the need to ask if I really need or want to go to.

“You already know who’s going to win and it’ll be on TV anyway,” she says. “Just stay home and watch it.”

Admittedly, she’s right. I can’t remember the last time a Filipino beat a Thai in Thailand; it’s been that long. The Thai always wins. It’s what you might call, “legalized fight-fixing.” It happens all over the world, in small shows as well as the larger ones (Barerra – Fana) and is supposedly a necessary evil. Legalized fight-fixing detracts from the roll of the dice; sort of like having an ultrasound done to find out whether it’s a boy or a girl. “It’s a boy” after an ultrasound doesn’t quite have the same ring to it as it does after waiting 9 months.

Here in Thailand, the chances of a visiting fighter defeating a Thai are always the same, slim to none. And yet I always go to the fights – driven by some unseen force, I always go – I must go. I don’t want to miss a show that actually has fights worth watching, or by some miracle, a Filipino fighter who beats the long odds and wins for once – just once.

Lately I’ve started rooting for the foreigner to win; just once I want to see some poor guy who’s supposed to be on the receiving end of a beating surprise all those watching, including his own corner, and win. Winning via decision is unlikely; normally a visiting fighter needs to knock out his Thai opponent to prove he’s the winner.

In two recent fights one visiting fighter nearly beat the odds and another made mincemeat out of them. Hallelujah!

Fight one:
March 24th, 2006 – Queen Sirikit Garden in Ladkrabang, Bangkok, Thailand

For once I got to a show early – too early. Most of the time, I arrive just as the fights are going on the air (Thai TV), or just before the main event. This time I got to the fight two full hours before the show started. The Bangkok traffic that is always so miserable was nonexistent. That’s the thing about Bangkok traffic, sometimes a twenty minute trip takes two hours and other times it takes ten. At least I wouldn’t miss any of the action.

The makeshift ring was in the middle of a parking lot in a sports center where locals come to play tennis, basketball or picnic on a sunny day. I sat around twiddling my thumbs until the first fight started. Actually it wasn’t a fight but an exhibition. This time however there were no pretenses made.

WBA interim bantamweight champion Poonsawat Kratingdaenggym would box six rounds; two rounds against three different opponents. The champion wore headgear so as to not suffer a financial setback in the form of a cut. It was clear he was working and thus while the exhibition was interesting, it lacked excitement. He put in six solid rounds with his partners and made it look easy. He fired off combinations and then stood in front of his opponent to practice his defensive techniques. I was glad I got to see him spar but glad when it was over.

By now there were a few hundred spectators milling around and the crowd was growing larger with each passing second. They also wanted excitement, they wanted blood. And blood they would get.  .

When Thai fighter Saohin Srithai Condo (51-12, 34 KOs), now using the name Saohin Sabuyoko, took on Filipino fighter Ariel Delgado (2-1, 1 KO) in a scheduled twelve-rounder for the PABA featherweight title, I didn’t give it much thought.

Who would?

After all, Delgado only had two fights and was in the ring with an experienced fighter who had twice challenged for world titles (failed both times) and who had went the distance with Paulie Ayala and Jorge Linares.

It was one of the bloodiest battles I’ve ever seen in-person

For eight rounds the two fighters battered each other to and fro; not only with punches but with head butts. There was hitting on the break, elbowing, hitting while holding. They broke each other up and down from all angles, using any method imaginable.

By the third round, the Thai was cut over the right eye and bleeding copiously. The fight was in danger of being stopped. The doctor was called in but after a quick assessment he let the fight go on.

At the end of the fourth, the referee stepped into each of the corners to advise them the fight would now go to the scorecards to determine the winner should the bout be stopped.

Four more rounds quickly passed. It was a brutal bout. Both fighters were bleeding profusely; blood was splattered across their chests and backs and on the ring canvas from corner to corner. Their shorts were stained pink and their gloves, sky blue in color, were smeared with streaks of maroon.

The entire fight was quite literally “a bloody mess.”

At the end of round eight, the referee led Delgado over to the ring doctor who this time wasted no time ending the carnage. The fight would go to the scorecards.

Both fighters could have been forced to concede the bout, but at this moment in time it was the Filipino fighter who was covered in his own blood. Srithai Condo had two gashes, one over each eye, and one smaller gash over his forehead and right eye but somehow his corner had been able to stem the flow of bleeding between the seventh and eighth round.

Judges scores: 78-74, 78-74 and 79-74

Unanimous decision for Saohin Srithai Condo.

Once again a Filipino fighter had been denied. Once again, I was denied.

Fight two and three:
March 26th, 2006 – Pattivikorn Market, Bangkok, Thailand

The first fight set the tone for the card and was between two Thai’s, atypical as rarely do two Thais fight one another when boxing.

Yodankaeng Por Choomchok, a fighter I’ve never seen before, faced off against another fighter I’ve never seen before, Noknoi Sithprasert. Por Choomchook was 8-0 and defending something called the WBC Youth Light Flyweight Title. The fight was close for the first four rounds.  The champion did what he was supposed to in the first two rounds, using his jab, sticking and moving, and forcing Sithprasert to come after him. I gave rounds one and two to Por Choomchok and rounds three and four to Sithprasert.

In the third round, the aggression of Sithprasert became too much for Por Choomchok. The champion spent much of the round with his back against the ropes trying to defend against the whipping body shots of Sithprasert. Suddenly, the champion went down from a looping left from Sithprasert. He rose at seven, clearly dazed. A few moments later, he hit the deck again but once again he pulled himself up off the canvas. Seconds later the bell sounded to end round four, saving the damaged fighter for at least another sixty seconds.

Just under a minute into round five though, Sithprasert scored a barrage of punches, forcing referee Franz Marti (SUI) to stop the bout. It wasn’t a great fight but it was better than most and was well worth the 45 minute trip.

Next up, Fahpetchnoi Sor Chitpattana (Thailand) and Lito Sisnorio (Philippines).

I’d seen both of these fighters fight before and remembered Sisnorio as a sloppy fighter with a pretty good punch. Sor Chitpattana (13-1, 9 KOs) was the WBC’s #5 ranked flyweight and a decent fighter but still green. Quite frankly I didn’t think he was deserving of his #5 ranking as there are far better fighters in the division than he. Maybe he belonged in the top twenty or thirty, but not in the top five. Sisnorio (4-2, 2 KOs) was basically another gimme, having lost his two previous fights to Oleydong Sithamerchai and Pygmy Muangchaiyaphum.

The fight showed every sign of being yet another easy win for the Thai until….wham, Sisnorio dropped Sor Chitpattana in the first round with a short right hand. The stunned crowd is silent until Sor Chitpattana rises and shows he is capable of continuing. Most believe it was a lucky punch, me included. When round two begins though it becomes clear Sor Chitpattana is apprehensive of Sisnorio’s power. He is tentative and is backpedaling.

Crack – another big shot from Sisnorio and down goes Sor Chitpattana. He’s up at the count of seven but eats punch after punch while laid up against the ropes. Somehow he makes it to the end of the round and again the Thai spectators have some hope. “Of course, it can’t be true,” they think to themselves. “It’s not going to happen to our guy. We’ll come back – we always do.”

I on the other hand had my own thoughts…

“Just once! Just once the guy chosen to be the loser will win and win big!”

Sisnorio shuffled away from the Thai and looked over to his corner.

”What should I do?” he asked in Tagalog.

”Should I knock him out?” he continued.

Immediately I felt my blood boiling and my spider senses tingling. It couldn’t be true. Surely he wasn’t paid to lose. Did he accidentally knock down Sor Chitpattana without really trying?

The round ended and my questions remained unanswered until after the bout.

In rounds three and four Sor Chitpattana regained his senses and used his jab to put distance between Sisnorio and himself. He stayed out of trouble. He was shaky but his confidence was coming back.

“Damn,” I thought. “This always happens. This Filipino is going to fade, allowing the Thai to win the late rounds and steal the fight.”

But the dice were rolled and this time and it was the Thai fighter who would lose.

Just over halfway through round five, Sisnorio landed a crushing right hook that piledrived Sor Chitpattana into the canvas face first.

The referee didn’t bother to count – the fight was over and the #5 fighter in the world (the WBC’s world) was sent crashing unceremoniously into unconsciousness and possible temporary oblivion.

After the fight I asked Sisnorio why he didn’t go after the knockout in round two.

What was he asking his corner?

“Fahpetchnoi is my friend. I didn’t know what I was supposed to do,” he said.

Later I was told Sisnorio was inexperienced and had never won in Thailand. He was unsure if he was supposed to knockout his opponent.

Every fight is a roll of the dice. And sometimes the dice are loaded.

Articles of 2006

Peter/Toney Ii: Peter Has The Brutal Punch

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Samuel Peter claims he has dynamites in my two hands?

Heavyweight contenders Samuel “The Nigerian Nightmare” Peter and James Lights Out? Toney get it on a second time this Saturday from the Seminole Hard Rock in Hollywood, Fla. (Showtime).

The hard-slugging Peter, unlike Toney, is one of those strong, silent types notorious for letting their fists to the talking one the opening bell sounds, but the Nigeria Nightmare is as confident as ever and determined to turn Lights Out’s lights out for good.

I have got dynamites in my two hands,? said Peter, according the Lagos, Nigeria Vanguard, and I will crush James Toney once and for all. The Toney camp made the mistake of their lives by protesting and seeking a rematch. I am ready to teach him a bitter lesson.?

Sam Peter walked away with the W for Peter/Toney I at the Staples Center in LA last September, but it was by disputed split decision a verdict so disputed, there was even a dispute about the dispute which forced the WBC’s hand into mandating Saturday’s rematch.

Samuel Peter is the biggest thing to hit African boxing since Ghanaian superstar Azumah Nelson rocked the feather and junior welterweight divisions. The President of the Nigeria Boxing Board of Control, Prince Olaide Adeboye, admitted, according to allAfrica.com, We are rooting for Samuel Peter, of course. He is one boy we believe in to bring back the country’s lost glory in professional boxing. I am personally making arrangement to be at the ringside to see him fight Toney again. I was at the first fight in Los Angeles in September.

Peter has the brutal punch, and to me he was the clear winner of the first fight. But the WBC Board of Governors, of which I am a member, voted 21-10 for a rematch. There was nothing those of us Africans on the board could do in the circumstances. But I believe Peter will confirm he is better than Toney and will then go ahead to meet the champion and claim the belt for Nigeria and Africa.?

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Articles of 2006

The Sweet Science P4P Rankings for Asia

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There are claims that boxing is dying. Hogwash. The heavyweight division isn’t the only division in boxing and 2007 promises to be a banner year in boxing; especially for boxers hailing from Asia.

While Asia isn’t Vegas or Atlantic City, it is a region packed of diamonds in the rough; undiscovered gems and potential superstars who wait for their moment in the sun.

The Sweet Science P4P Rankings – Asia

1) Manny Pacquiao – There’s no way to dispute Pacquiao is the best fighter in Asia, if not all of boxing. He’s exciting, he wins with Je Ne Sais Quois and is definitely “the man” in boxing.

2) Pongsaklek Wonjongkam – Although his competition leaves much to be desired, his longevity and skills are undeniable. He is currently Thailand’s only world champion and is undefeated in ten years. Need I say more?

3) Chris John – A victory over Juan Manuel Marquez, however controversial, shows he belongs at the top of the heap. He easily outpointed Renan Acosta to close out 2006 and should have no trouble defending against Jose Rojas in February. A fight with Pacquiao would not be a good move on his part but a rematch with Marquez would not hurt – especially if he defeats the Mexican again.

4) Hozumi Hasegawa – Hidden away in Japan, Hasegawa is a sharp punching southpaw who put former champion Veeraphol Sahaprom to sleep. He recently bested Genaro Garcia and his herky-jerky style will give fits to any one who steps in the ring with him.

5) Masomori Tokuyama – Tokuyama has never shied away from a good fight and although he only fought once in 2006 (UD12 Jose Navarro), he ledger shows wins over Katsushige Kawashima (twice), Gerry Penalosa (twice) and In Jin Chi (twice). A fight with Hozumi Hasegawa is a distinct possibility in 2007.

6) Nobuo Nashiro – With only seven fights under his belt he took on WBA champion Martin Castillo – and defeated him. Although he’s only fought a total of nine fights, nearly all have been against quality opposition. A victory in a rematch with Castillo would cement his claim as the king of the 115-pound division.

7) Yukata Niida – This light-hitting minimumweight defended his title twice in 2006, winning a technical decision against unbeaten Eriberto Gejon (Tech Win 10) and the other on points over Ronald Barrera (W 12). Scheduled to meet Katsunari Takayama early next year – the best has yet to come for this WBA belt holder.

8) In Jin Chi – Won back the title he lost to Takashi Koshimoto in January from Rudolfo Lopez. While there’s little uncertainty to his skills, at thirty-three, 2007 may provide some insight as to just how much he has left.

9) Yodsanan Sor Nanthachai –Sor Nonthachai is an exciting, top-shelf fighter with an iron chin. Has no trouble making mincemeat of mid-level opposition and deserves a title shot in 2007. Time is running out.

10) Rey Bautista – He’s young, relatively inexperienced in big-time boxing, but will continue to shine in 2007. One of the better prospects in boxing, he should snag a title in 2007.

Asian Fighters Ranked in Ring Magazine

Pound for Pound:

Manny Pacquiao (Philippines): #2

Jr. Lightweight

Manny Pacquiao (Philippines): #1
Yodsanan Sor Nanthachai: #9

Featherweight

Chris John (Indonesia) #1
In Jin Chi (Korea) #3
Takashi Koshimoto (Japan) #5
Hioyuki Enoki (Japan) #7

Jr. Featherweight

Somsak Sithchatchawal (Thailand) #4

Bantamweight

Hozumi Hasegawa (Japan) #2
Veeraphol Sahaprom (Japan) #3
Ratanachai Sor Vorapin (Thailand) #6
Poonsawat Kratingdaenggym (Thailand) #10

Jr. Bantamweight

Nobuo Nashiro (Japan) #1
Katsushige Kawashima (Japan) #7
Pramuansak Phosuwan (Thailand) #10

Flyweight

Pongsaklek Wonjongkam (Thailand) #1
Takefumi Sakata (Japan) #7
Daisuke Naito (Japan) #10

Jr. Flyweight

Koki Kameda (Japan) #1

Minimumweight

Yukata Naiida (Japan) #2
Eagle Kyowa (Japan/Thai) #4
Katsunari Takayama (Japan) #5
Rodel Mayol (Philippines) #7

Boxing in Thailand

There’s no shortage of boxers in Thailand. With a huge pool of Muay Thai fighters to draw from and several talented amateur boxing prospects turning pro after the 2008 Beijing Olympics, Thailand seems destined to remain a boxing powerhouse in Asia.

The country is known for having tough, determined and disciplined fighters who give their all whenever the step in to the ring. However, consistently losing while fighting abroad and padding their records with no-hopers has done nothing to enhance their reputation.

Whether because of a lack of marketability, a lack of funds or their unwillingness to travel abroad, the vast majority of boxers from Thailand remain a mystery to fans in the west. If anything though, the boxing scene involving Thai fighters will be active. In fact, it’s one of the most active in the world; since 2000, the number of fights has nearly doubled in the country.

The Sweet Science P4P Rankings – Thailand – August 2006

1) Pongsaklek Wonjongkam
2) Poonsawat Kratingdaenggym
3) Somsak Sithchatchawal
4) Wandee Singwancha
5) Sirimongkol Singwancha
6) Yodsanan Sor Nanthachai
7) Veeraphol Sahaprom
8) Pramuansak Phosuwan
9) Terdsak Jandaeng
10) Oleydong Sithamerchai

Current Sweet Science P4P Rankings – Thailand

1) Pongsaklek Wonjongkam (Flyweight) – Definitely the top dog in Thailand

2) Yodsanan Sor Nanthachai (Super Lightweight) – He’s a seasoned fighter who has proven himself in the big-time. He’s one Thai who can fight outside of Asia. He has an abundance of skills and one-punch power. His overall ability and ease in dispatching anyone other than championship caliber get him the runners-up spot.

3) Poonsawat Kratingdaenggym (Super Bantamweight) – After losing to Vladimir Sidorenko he’s bounced back. He’s young, he can punch, but the former interim champion needs to prove himself against a name fighter.

4) Somsak Sithchatchawal (Super Bantamweight) – Was his win over Monshipour a fluke or was Celestino Caballero just that good? Did Sithchatchawal catch Monshipour at the right time and can he rebound from the devastating loss? The jury is still out.

5) Wandee Singwancha (Flyweight) – He doesn’t have much of a punch which will be his downfall in the end. He can box, as was evidenced in his recent victory over Juanito Rubillar, but this won’t be enough. He can no longer make the Jr. Flyweight limit and with no punch he’ll have a hard time competing against the “big boys.” Although he’s now rated second by the WBC, he doesn’t deserve to be.

5) Sirimongkol Singwancha (Super Lightweight) – Get this guy a fight. He’s better than Jose Armando Santa Cruz and would have beat up Inada had the fight taken place. He’ll fight anyone but his biggest obstacle is staying motivated fighting tomato cans in Thailand. Like many Thais, he needs a fight against a name opponent.
6) Wandee Singwancha (Flyweight) – He doesn’t have much of a punch which will be his downfall in the end. He can box, as was evidenced in his recent victory over Juanito Rubillar, but this won’t be enough. He can no longer make the Jr. Flyweight limit and with no punch he’ll have a hard time competing against the “big boys.” Although he’s now rated second by the WBC, he doesn’t deserve to be.

7) Pramuansak Phosuwan (Super Flyweight) – A genuine tough guy. Always calm and focused no matter how heated the battle. But at thirty-eight, he’ll be in trouble should he fight one of the division’s elite.
8) Veeraphol Sahaprom (Bantamweight) – Will be lucky to get another crack at the title. Although he has a puncher’s chance of winning a belt, that’s about all he has left at this point. A third shot at Hasegawa is unlikely.

9) Oleydong Sithamerchai (Minimumweight) – He’s fought better than the usual opponents faced by Thais at his level and he moves up one spot with the departure of Terdsak Jandaeng. He lacks the punch and is in the wrong division to become a superstar. He’ll need to defeat a name opponent to convince me.

10) Saenghiran Lookbanyai / Napapol Kittisakchokchai (Super Bantamweight) – These two square-off in early March, supposedly to see who deserves a shot at Israel Vasquez. Kittisakchokchai has the edge in experience but some feel Lookbanyai has the edge in heart and is the favorite.

Neither has defeated a top twenty fighter and yet are ranked number one and two respectively in the WBC’s world.

In Kittisakchokchoi’s lone shot at the big-time, he was TKO’d in 10 by Oscar Larios. His dreadful performance against Larios and lack of quality opposition leads me to believe Saenghiran might have more of a shot at beating him than some suspect. Regardless, neither of them lasts longer than six rounds with Israel Vasquez.

Honorable Mention: Wethya Sakmuangklang, Denkaosan Kaovichit, Devid Lookmahanak, Nethra Sasiprapa, Chonlatarn Piriyapinyo, Pornsawan Kratingdaenggym

Thai Fighters Ranked in Ring Magazine

Pongsaklek Wonjongkam: #1 Flyweight
Pramuansak Phosuwan: #10 Jr. Bantamweight
Veeraphol Sahaprom: #3 Bantamweight
Ratanachai Sor Vorapin: #6 Bantamweight
Poonsawat Kratingdaenggym: #10 Bantamweight
Somsak Sithchatchawal: #3 Jr. Featherweight
Yodsanan Sor Nanthachai: #9 Lightweight

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Articles of 2006

Iceman Stops Tito Ortiz Win Streak

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LAS VEGAS—UFC light heavyweight champion Chuck “Iceman” Liddell’s fists proved too much for Huntington Beach’s Tito Ortiz who was stopped in the third round before a sold out crowd at the MGM Garden Arena on Saturday.

The punching machine Liddell (20-3, 13 KOs) repeated his victory in UFC 66 over the much-improved grappler Ortiz who has improved his punching and blocking. Ortiz was trying to avenge his loss of April 2004.

Despite all the new weapons displayed by Ortiz it wasn’t enough as Liddell pummeled the former champion and retained his title with a technical knockout at 3:59 of the third round. Referee Mario Yamasaki stopped the bout.

“This was the most satisfying victory of my career,” said Liddell, 36, of Santa Barbara. “Tito came back real tough.”

Ortiz (15-5, 8 KOs), a former wrestler, worked on his boxing technique knowing he would need it against the former boxer Liddell. But Liddell’s experience allowed him to find the right moment to pounce on Ortiz.

“I had him hurt, I just kept throwing punches,” said Liddell who also knocked down Ortiz in the first round with a left hook.

Ortiz was gracious in defeat.

“Chuck is the best fighter Pound for Pound in the (mixed martial arts) world,” said Ortiz, 31, who suffered a gash on the side of his left eye from a punch. “I’m disgusted by myself. I let my fans down.”

Other bouts

Underdog Keith Jardine (12-3-1) knocked out Forrest Griffin (13-4) at 4:41 of the first round in their light heavyweight showdown. A right uppercut followed by a left hook wobbled Griffin who was sent to the floor by a barrage of punches. On the ground Jardine landed right after right until referee John McCarthy stopped the fight for a technical knockout.

“I couldn’t believe he was hurt,” said Jardine about Griffin who is known for his resiliency. “I was so nervous coming into this fight, but now I know I belong here.”

Canada’s Jason McDonald (18-7) choked out Chris Leben (15-3) in a middleweight bout that was up for grabs. Though Leben seemed to control the fight with stunning left hands, once the fight went to the ground McDonald managed a chokehold at 4:03 of the second round. Referee Steve Mazagatti saw Leben was unconscious and stopped the fight.

Former UFC heavyweight champion Andrei Arlovski (12-5) caught Brazil’s Mario Cruz (2-2) with a sneak right hand while both were tangled on the ground. Then the Belarusian pummeled Cruz until referee Herb Dean stopped the fight at 3:15 of the first round.

Third season winner of the Ultimate Fighter television reality season Michael Bisping (12-0) of Great Britain won by technical knockout over Eric Shafer (9-2-2) at 4:29 of the first round. A knee knocked Shafer groggy then Bisping knocked him to the ground and pounded him. Referee Mario Yamasaki stopped the bludgeoning.

Thiago Alves (16-4) caught Peru’s Tony De Souza (15-5) with a knee as he attempted to dive for his legs in a welterweight contest. After that it was pretty much over as Alves pummeled De Souza at 1:10 of the second round forcing referee John McCarthy to halt the bout.

Gabriel Gonzago (7-1) proved too strong for Carmelo Marrero (6-1) in a heavyweight bout. At 3:22 of the first round Gonzago of Massachusetts manipulated his way into arm bar forcing Pennsylvania’s Marrero to tap out.

Japan’s Yushin Okami (19-3) pounded Georgia’s Rory Singer (11-6) into submission at 4:03 of the third round of a middleweight bout. Okami seemed the more-rounded fighter with effective kicks to the head and more accurate punching.

Christian Wellisch (8-2) jumped to a quick start with an accurate left hook that rattled Australia’s Anthony Perosh (5-3) in a heavyweight bout. During the first round it seemed the Sacramento fighter might end the fight but the Aussie hung tough. Wellisch won by unanimous decision.

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