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Articles of 2006

The Senator Should Buy His Tickets to This Fight

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LAS VEGAS, June 2 – There have been more words written lately about the weight of Jose Luis Castillo, which we’ll learn officially later today, than about the oxymoronic Senate Ethics Committee. This has to stop.

It is not that I have anything personal against weight problems. Castillo’s diet is just one of the myriad angles taken by bloggers and writers alike in anticipation of the third meeting between the Mexican stalwart and Diego (Chico) Corrales. Thousands of words have also been written in fond remembrance of the first two confrontations, thousands more over the two controversies – Corrales’s mouthpiece in the first, Castillo’s refusal to make weight in the second.

A classic fight is worth a thousand words, of course, but there is little more to be said until after the final act of the trilogy tomorrow night at the Thomas & Mack Center here (and on Showtime everywhere). Maybe Corrales “cheated” in the epic first fight 13 months ago, buying precious recuperative time by losing his mouthpiece after each of his two knockdowns in that wild and wonderful tenth round. Maybe Castillo “cheated” – certainly one of his cornermen did in trying to tip the scales with his foot – by not making the 135-pound lightweight limit and, thus not having to weaken himself, was able to hurt Corrales with just about every shot before putting him away with a perfect left hook in the fourth round last October.

But there was no “maybe” about the Nevada State Athletic Commission giving away free tickets to big fights in the last few years to Harry Reid, the home state Democratic Senate leader, in an attempt to influence pending legislation about boxing.

Most everyone has concentrated on Reid’s ethics in accepting the tickets, though in the long run, he still aided bills to create a federal commission, a position not favored by a state commission fearful of losing its considerable clout. Reid himself has apologized, saying maybe he should have bought the tickets all along, blah blah blah.

I say, turn this thing around. If a Senator gets bribed, sure he’s guilty. It’s just another day in the office, perhaps, but what about the bribe-givers? The Nevada commission has gotten an undeserved pass in this matter.

All along, I have been against a federal commission. Mixing greed and corruption with politics would give boxing its biggest scandals. The Reid case is the tip of a potential federal iceberg; look at how it affected even as respected figure as Marc Ratner, the just exited executive director of the Nevada commission.

Ratner, a states-righter in this matter, was hoping to convince Reid with a good view of Oscar de la Hoya squirming on the canvas after being punched in the side by Bernard Hopkins, that Nevada was more than capable of handling its own affairs. At the very least, Ratner said he hoped that Nevada would become the model for any federal overseer.

As fine as Ratner intentions were, he – and the commission he represented – should be found guilty of trying to “bribe” – a harsh word, perhaps, but it helps make the point – a United States Senator.

And that’s not even begging the question, what the hell was the commission doing with free tickets to give away? In fact, if you want to promote a fight in this desert, according to state rules, you must give the commission 60 – yes, SIXTY – freebies. There are five commissioners. Each gets two tickets, though I don’t see why more than one is allocated. Most people don’t get to bring the spouse along for a day at the office. Most of the free passes go to guests.

Sorry, I think it is inappropriate for a state agency to take – in fact, demand – handouts from the very people (promoters in this case) it is supposed to regulate.

The bad practice of boxing’s leading state is not an argument for a federal commission. It would be easier to plug the leaks in Nevada’s commission than to open the dikes all the way and let in the feds.

On the other hand, having Guantanamo Bay as a threat might keep everyone in line.

BACK TO THE GOOD STUFF: You’re right, gentle reader, I shouldn’t be sweating the small stuff, because every now and then, two guys come along and remind us of the big picture. Corrales and Castillo have etched their names alongside David and Goliath, Napoleon and Wellington, Ali and Frazier. You will never be able to think of one without the other. Let’s go back to the good old days.

Muhammad Ali was at his Deer Lake, Pa., training camp, getting ready for his rematch with Leon Spinks in 1978 when suddenly he waxed nostalgic. It was clear, even to him, that the end of his career was coming and he turned to me and said he would like, some day, to be able to sit on a porch with Smokin’ Joe Frazier, rocking back and forth, talking of the “good old days.”

Despite Frazier’s somewhat softening of the old antagonism – which was well deserved – it is unlikely that scene will ever take place. But as we get set for what should be the end to boxing’s greatest trilogy since Ali-Frazier – okay, Barrera and Morales deserve to be right up there, but not Gatti and Ward – Corrales was already talking about rocking chairs and front porches, well, with a Mexican accent.

“Every time we see each other, it will be in a cantina or having a cocktail together and celebrating and talking about what we did with each other.”

The odds are heavy that Castillo, who seemingly had the first fight won, will prevail in Act III. Maybe a trifle too heavy in my opinion, minus $2.40 (12 to 5) seems a tad high (minus $1.60, or 8-5, however, I would be tempted). Corrales, at plus $2, is tempting, especially since I don’t buy the theory that the two bouts with Castillo have finished him.

Castillo himself pointed out that Chico’s trainer, Joe Goossen, did everything humanely (cq) possible to get the Ruelas brothers, Gabe and Rafael, to retire on time, and would certainly not be allowing Corrales to take this assignment if he felt there was a danger.

And there is perhaps an upside to Corrales’s boxing. He puzzled some observers by not relying on his longer jab and “boxing” Castillo in the first fight, the way he did after Goossen prescribed stick-and-move to gain revenge against Joel Casamayor.

Castillo thinks it is possible Corrales might attempt more boxing and less brawling, but he doesn’t think it matters. I agree. If Floyd Mayweather Jr. couldn’t stick and move against Castillo, who is a master at cutting off the ring, why would anyone think Corrales will?

The question is how much getting down to 135 might have weakened Castillo. My feeling is not enough. I just think he is of slightly higher quality, not solely from how he faired in two close fights with Mayweather compared to how easily Pretty Boy handled a weight-weakened Corrales. Castillo was much more effective against Casamayor than Corrales was, even in the rematch, and let’s not forget that Corrales had some early struggles, needing to come on late against Roberto Garcia, for example.

No one in boxing, Arturo Gatti and Evander Holyfield included, has more heart than Chico. But frankly, though I’m one of the few boss scribes around to remember Chico’s old TV show – his brothers were guest stars on occasion – I still think Chico’s best days were in the movies with his brothers Groucho, Harpo and Zeppo.

Since I have to make a pick – the boss insists – I say it’s going to be a helluva fight, one that Harry Reid should be glad to pay for, but one I think Castillo wins.

PENTHOUSE: Let me play some catch-up here since I’ve been silent for so long (hey, never mind why, I deserve a break on occasion). A couple of fighters deserve kudos.

This was the first time I had the pleasure of watching Paul Williams, the long, tall welterweight with a surprisingly good chin, and the way he beat Argentina’s Walter Matthysse and quickly called out Antonio Margarito leads me to believe the division has another major player. Other young welterweights will be showcased in the near future (I’m anxious to see Jorge Julio vs. equally undefeated Carlos Quintana here June 24)….Also, congratulations to the wonderful fight put up by Rocky Juarez against the great Marco Antonio Barrera, who off TV I had winning by a couple of points but I wouldn’t argue if you had Juarez ahead. Juarez showed he belongs in the big leagues. And Barrera showed he still has that championship quality to battle back against younger and stronger punchers; every time he was hurt, he would automatically fire back.

OUTHOUSE: Nothing including Fres Oquendo should ever be called the “Best Damn Anything.” What does Dan Goossen have on Fox Sports Network to get Oquendo and Javier Mora as a main event matching heavyweight “contenders?” Mora showed up 23 pounds heavier than he was earlier this year for an undeserved TKO over Kirk Johnson – Mora accidentally tripped Johnson, who tore up his knee as he fell and instead of going to the scorecard, as in the case of an inadvertent butt, the California commission counted Johnson out. Johnson was ahead on points at the time. In any case, Oquendo may or may not have given Chris Byrd trouble, but he’s been living off that so-called “robbery” for much too long. He had the klutzy Mora hurt in the opening round, then went nine more dull rounds….Two judges, Duane Ford and Ken Morita, handed in 10-10 scorecards for the 12th and final round of the Barrera-Juarez fight. What’s so surprising is that Ford, whom I consider one of the three or four best in Vegas (along with Jerry Roth, Dave Moretti and Chuck Giampa), once told my buddy Royce Feour that a boxing judge is like a baseball umpire – if there’s a close play at the plate, the umpire can’t call it even (okay, a tie belongs to the runner, but Ford’s point was that the ump must make a call)….Another argument why boxing should do away with judges and let everyone fight to the finish.

MORE DISS AND DAT: It’s kind of like the “Old Man and the Sea,” Oscar de la Hoya off in a boat contemplating his navel. Hemingway’s old man never had to worry about his prospective opponent’s old man, the way Oscar has to think about Floyd Mayweather Sr. if he opts for the only fight left that makes sense. If I read Jim Lampley right when the president of the Golden Boy Fan Club interviewed de la Hoya by noting Oscar’s competitive nature, when he eventually docks, he’s going to announce that Sept. 16 he indeed will fight Floyd Mayweather Jr. in what might be the biggest grossing fight in history….In case you were wondering, Nicolay Valuev, who has some heavyweight belt, defends tomorrow against Owen Beck in Hannover, Germany, and don’t be scared. It’s not going to be shown on American TV….More interesting, though, is undefeated Chad Dawson’s step up in class tonight on ShoBox against the always tough Eric Harding….Yeah, Fernando Montiel was disappointingly dull in his challenge of much bigger Jhonny Gonzalez, but let’s give him credit for at least trying out someone a couple of sizes too big for him. Gonzo was the real culprit in giving the match so much down time.

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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