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Articles of 2009

Countdown To Bradley/Peterson

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CONFERENCE CALL HIGHLIGHTS

WBO JUNIOR WELTERWEIGHT CHAMP TIMOTHY BRADLEY & WBO INTERIM 140-POUND TITLEHOLDER LAMONT PETERSON

Bradley, (24-0-1 NC, 11 KOs), of Palm Springs, Calif., and Peterson (27-0, 13 KOs), of Washington, D.C., participated in a national media conference call to discuss their upcoming world title mega-matchup on Saturday, Dec. 12 live on SHOWTIME® (9 p.m. ET/PT, delayed on the West Coast).

In an excellent battle of unbeatens, Bradley will defend his WBO 140-pound title against interim champ Peterson at The Show at Agua Caliente Casino • Resort • Spa in Rancho Mirage, Calif.  The telecast will open with WBC/WBA Super Flyweight Champion Vic Darchinyan (32-2-1, 26 KOs), of Sydney, Australia, defending his belts against WBC interim titlist Tomas Rojas (31-11-1, 22 KOs) of Mexico.

Bradley, who is coming off a No Contest against former unified lightweight world champion Nate Campbell on Aug. 1 on SHOWTIME, is on a hot streak in the stacked 140-pound division.  Bradley originally won the fight via highly controversial third-round TKO, but the decision was later changed to a NC by the California State Athletic Commission due to an accidental head butt that opened a cut over Campbell’s left eye.

Peterson, who is one of the hottest prospects in boxing, is coming off a seventh-round TKO over previously unbeaten Willy Blain on April 25, 2009 for the interim WBO junior welterweight title. Now he has his first shot at a world title against a man that no one in the division has been able to beat.

The 12-rounders are promoted by Gary Shaw Productions and Thompson Boxing Promotions, in association with Top Rank and Agua Caliente Casino • Resort • Spa.

TIMOTHY BRADLEY OPENING COMMENTS:

“There’s nothing like fighting at home and I’m glad to be back.  I’m glad that my promoters were able to make that possible.”

“Lamont Peterson is a great fighter; I grew up with him in the amateurs.  I know him very well and he knows me very well.  I’m just looking forward to the fight. I’m hungry and I’m willing to show the world what I have.  We’re both undefeated, which makes for a great fight.  We both have speed and power, and we both have boxing ability, so it’s going to be a great fight.  But, at the end of the day, it’s my job to teach Lamont Peterson how to lose, and that’s what I’m going to do on Dec. 12.”

Tim, what are your thoughts on the result of your last fight?

BRADLEY:  “I’m way over that.  Things happened and you just have to move on.  My biggest focus right now is on Dec. 12.  As far as it goes with (Nate) Campbell, I’m over that. I’ve been over that for months, so I’m moving onto the next challenge, and that’s Lamont Peterson.”

How important is it to you to have to people, fans and experts understand how good Timothy Bradley is?

BRADLEY:  “You can basically look at my resume and see that in less than one year I one two world titles.   I’m still young, I’ve fought on the road, like a veteran, and I won on the road.  People don’t understand how much pressure there is on a fighter when he fights on the road.  I beat Junior Witter on the road to win the world title and didn’t get much credit for that.  On the road, that just shows you how determined I am to being great.  At the end of the day, after I beat Lamont Peterson, people are going to start realizing that, ‘I’m going to stop betting against this guy and I’m going to get on the bandwagon.’”

Where does your tenacity come from?

BRADLEY:  “I think it just comes from my love for the sport. I just love what I do and I have that competitive nature.  I made a promise to my promoter that they line ‘em up and I’m going to knock them all down.  I have a great team supporting me and I have a lot of faith in my abilities and myself.  I train extremely hard for every fight like it’s my last fight, and that’s pretty much what puts me over the top, my conditioning level and how I take care of myself before and after training camp.”

Do you feel like you’re getting the respect you deserve?

BRADLEY:  “I don’t know, everybody has their opinions.  It doesn’t really bother me.  Dec. 12, just come out and watch the fight.  You’re going to see a big difference.  Boxing is about style, styles make fights. He could give me problems, but we’re going to see.  He’s a much taller opponent with a lot longer reach, but that’s not going to keep me off of you. I’m coming in there to get him, and we’ll see how long he lasts.”

Has it been any different fighting at home?

BRADLEY:  “It’s the same.  There’s a little added pressure, but this is my job, this is what I do.  I know I have to get in there and take care of business, but I’m a little more relaxed now, a lot more mature.  I’m not as nervous or anxious as I normally am.

“This fight is a mandatory fight.  If I were to lose this fight, there’s no way I could get my belt back from this guy.  That’s my only pressure, is losing my title.  That’s it.”

Being that Lamont is more of a counter-puncher, you might have to be more of an aggressor.  Is that something that you guys have worked on in this fight?

BRADLEY:  “My natural style is being aggressive, so I don’t have to work on it too much.  I love to get it on, and sometimes I don’t use my head and I’ll get caught with some stupid shots I shouldn’t have.  My trainer is working on slowing me down a little bit, let me take my time and pick me shot.  We’ve been working on that a lot, but as far as coming forward to fight, I’m always game.”

You keep taking tough fights.  Why?

BRADLEY: “I just want to fight the best fighters in the world.  That’s pretty much it. I’ve told my promoters that I want to fight the best fighters in the world.  Will I ever get a chance to fight Manny Pacquiao fight, probably not?  Those guys are mega-fighters.  I just want to fight the best.  Anybody that’s in my weight class who’s considered the best, that’s who I want to fight.  I’ve had it in my heart for a long time that I wanted to fight these guys (Pacquiao and Floyd Mayweather), but I’ve let that go.  I’ll just fight whoever they give me.”

LAMONT PETERSON OPENING COMMENTS:

“I’ve been training ever since I went out to California to see Timothy and Nate fight.  We pretty much knew this was going to be my next fight, we just didn’t know when at the time.  Right now, I’ve been in great shape for two or three months. We’re just trying to level everything out and doing what we need to do to give us a chance to win.  We feel really good right now, and we’re looking to go ahead and win the title on Dec. 12.

What does it mean to you to have Lamont to fight for a world title?

BARRY HUNTER (Lamont’s Trainer):  “The day Lamont stepped into the gym we’ve been gearing up for this day to fight for a world title.  When you look at two young people like Anthony and Lamont that went from what they went from at such an early age, to actually come from that a win a world title would be just huge. It would send a message clear across the map that if you don’t like where you are and where you are is a bad place you can do something about it.  You don’t have to always stay there.”

How does it feel to be fighting for a world title?
PETERSON:  “It’s a dream come true.  A lot of times you talk about us being out in the street, a lot of the times it got me through just dreaming of this day of fighting to become a world champion.  It’s really an honor and I’m really thankful.  It wasn’t just me alone.  I dreamed of this day, but there was a lot of people who helped this dream come true, and I have to give thanks to them.  Right now, I’m living my dream.  I’m just happy about the fight and giving it my all because I know this is it.”

Is it hard to believe that you’re fighting for a world championship, considering where you came from?
PETERSON:  “I always dreamed of this day, and I always thought this day had come.  But when it actually came I was like, wow, I have come a long way.  To survive in that type of environment, I had to be a certain way.  I had to make some changes to get to this point, and coach Barry helped with that.  It’s crazy.  It’s weird, but I like it.”

Are there any butterflies?
PETERSON:  “That’s mental work that I work on every night, at least 30 minutes a night.  I understand that it’s a world title fight and I might have butterflies, but if I work on that every night, I should be prepared.  Mentally, I’m prepared for that, I’m prepared to get knocked down or go 12, but if you prepare correctly, you should be ready to get in the ring when the time comes.”

Can you talk about your relationship with Timmy from the amateurs?
PETERSON:  “He’s a pretty cool guy.  We don’t have a really close relationship.  As far as his fighting style, he’s very determined and he comes to win.  He comes to fight and he comes to win, and I respect him as a fighter.  From the amateurs to the pros, same style, it just seems like he’s in better condition now, as a pro, which he should be.  I’m more of a thinking first fighter, but, if need be, I can go in there and bang with the best of them.  With me, I make my adjustments in the ring. I think whatever Timothy brings, I should be able to make the adjustments.”

How do you plan to utilize your height and reach advantage?
PETERSON:  “Of course, you can use your reach in different ways.  I don’t have to move back to use my reach.  I can move forward and keep him at reach and keep my jab and straight punches at him.  .Regardless if I’m moving back or moving forward, I’ll use my reach and just try to take advantage of that.

What type of fight will it be? Will it be a fight, fight or more of a chess match?
PETERSON:  “I’m prepared for both because Timothy can box, and I know he can bang.  And I know I can box and I know I can bang.  It’s hard to say now.  What strategy I decide to use in the fight and what he decides to use, I guess that will determine how the fight will play out.  But, it could go either way. It could be an all out war or it could be a chess match.  I’m ready for either one.”

You’re taking on a tough champion for your title shot.  Does that concern you?
PETERSON:  “It’s OK with me.  I wouldn’t have it any other way.  A lot of guys fight someone they know they can beat.  But, with me it’s about fighting the best.  If a fight comes up, you take it.  It’s also a good thing for me because I don’t have to go through the other guys.  I’m fighting the No. 1 at 140 pounds. If I can jump over the other guys then that will be good for me.”

What was the most impressive fight you’ve seen from Bradley?
HUNTER:   “I think the fight against Kendall Holt was the most impressive for me.  Not the fact that he won the fight, but that he came back from getting knocked down.  That showed that he was in great condition.  And his awareness, when he got knocked down he got up and took a knee.  He was aware to the point where he took a knee, got himself back together, and he won the fight.  That was very, very impressive.”

CLOSING COMMENTS:
HUNTER:  “We are elated to have this opportunity.  Timmy is a friend, but, nevertheless, the path to a world title is through him, and that’s the path we’re going to take. I’m very confident we’re going to walk out of the ring with a world title.

PETERSON:  “I will take full advantage of this opportunity on Dec. 12 and I will be champion.  Tune in on Dec. 12, because it’s going to be a great fight.”

Articles of 2009

UFC 108 Rashad Evans vs. Thiago Silva

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Former champion Rashad Evans meets Brazil’s venerable Thiago Silva in a non-title belt that can lead to a return match with the current champ, but first things first.

Evans (15-1-1) and Silva (14-1) meet in Ultimate Fighting Championship 108 in a light heavyweight bout on Saturday Jan. 2, at the MGM Grand Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas. A win by either fighter could result in a world title bid. The fight card is being shown on pay-per-view television.

Events can change quickly in the Octagon and anybody can beat anybody in the 205-pound weight division. Just ask Silva or Evans.

Silva and Evans are both experienced and can vouch firsthand about the capriciousness of fighting in MMA and especially as a light heavyweight. On one day this man can beat that man and on another day, that man can beat this man. It can make you absolutely daffy.

Evans, 30, is the former UFC light heavyweight world champion who only defended his title on one occasion and lost by vicious knockout to current champion Lyoto Machida of Brazil. It’s the only defeat on his record.

Silva, 27, is a well-rounded MMA fighter from Sao Paolo, Brazil who is versed in jujitsu, Muy Thai and boxing. He can end a fight quickly in a choke hold just as easily as with a kick or a punch. His only loss came to who else: Machida.

Evans and Silva know a win can push open the door to a rematch with current UFC light heavyweight champion Machida.

“A win against Rashad would put me in the track against Lyoto,” said Silva, in a telephone conference call. “That's what – what I want to do.”

When Silva fought Machida the two Brazilians were both undefeated and feared in the MMA world. The fight took place in Las Vegas and with one second remaining in the first round a perfectly timed punch knocked Silva unconscious.

“I was humbled big time, man,” says Silva who fought Machida in January 2009. “I learned a lot from that fight.  I think I can correct the mistakes from that fight, not overlooking anything else right now, but just I want to get the chance to fight him again.”

For Evans it was a different circumstance. The upstate New Yorker held the UFC title and was defending it after stopping then champion Forrest Griffin by knockout. Still, many felt Machida was far too technically versed. Evans was stopped brutally in the second round.

“I've made it a point to not – to not get distracted on what I want to do, because you know Thiago (Silva) is a very hungry fighter,” said Evans who has not fought since losing the title to Machida last May. “My focus is just on Thiago so much.  You know I don't want to overlook him, you know, not even a little bit.”

Dana White, president of UFC, says the winner of this fight could conceivably fight Machida in the near future. Evans and especially Silva are motivated by the open window.

“I learned a lot from that fight. I think I can correct the mistakes from that fight,” says Silva. “Not overlooking anything else right now, but I just want to get the chance to fight him again.”

What a prize. The winner gets to face the man who beat him: Machida.

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Articles of 2009

Ten Boxing Wishes For 2010

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As 2009 comes to a close, one reflects on what went well and what went wrong during the year in boxing. There were many highlights. Pacquiao vs. Cotto and Showtime’s Super Six tournament were part of the best that boxing had to offer. But there were some low points too therefore the industry has some work to do in order to keep generating fans. Here are some suggestions for 2010:

10. Better pay per view cards

Paying 40 to 50 bucks to watch the main event gets old real quick. Why do we have to sit through a horrible under-card to get to the main course? It’s like being fed spam appetizers before the Thanksgiving turkey. It seems that the pay per view promoters just don’t get it. Are they watching what they put on or do they only watch the “big fight” as everyone else is slowly being conditioned to do so?

9. Time to make Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. fight

Okay, I understand he’s the son of one of the greatest fighters that ever lived. But he’s had 42 fights against low to mid level competition and has never managed to look spectacular. It’s time to throw the 23 year old out of the nest to see if he can fly. My suggestion is a fight against Sergio Mora or maybe even Yuri Foreman. Neither of these guys can punch. They may outbox Junior but they won’t totally humiliate him.

8. No more ridiculous Pay Per View mismatches

Floyd Mayweather Jr. vs. Juan Manuel Marquez should’ve never been made. It was a ridiculous fight when it was announced and it was more ridiculous when it took place. Unable to bring Manny Pacquiao to the bargaining table for a third match against Juan Manuel Marquez, someone figured that pairing up the 135 pound champion against a natural 147 pounder like Mayweather would be a great idea. The pay per view generated over a million buys but the fact that millions of people were treated to an incredibly boring mismatch is what’s truly worrisome. I can guarantee you one thing about this card. The sport of boxing lost fans once the show was over and done with. Talk about short term thinking.

7. Chris “The Nightmare” Arreola shows up for a fight in amazing shape

It was painful to see Chris Arreola take a beating from the Ukrainian giant, Vitali Klitscho. The champion certainly earned his “Dr. Ironfist” moniker as he plowed his powerful shots into the former #1 WBC heavyweight contender’s face. He reddened and bloodied the young Mexican American with an assortment of weapons and foot movement seldom seen on a six foot seven inch heavyweight. Arreola was brave and unrelenting in battle. He never stopped coming forward and took chances when he could. His work in the ring at the Staples Center in downtown Los Angeles wasn’t the problem. Where Arreola let himself down was outside the ring. His unwillingness to condition himself into a finely tuned athlete cost him certain immortality as the first ever heavyweight champion of Mexican descent. Arreola has the heart and skills but it was his mental fortitude that broke down. Anyone who’s followed the Riverside fighter knows that his best weight is somewhere in the 230 pound range. It certainly isn’t at the 252 pounds he registered on the scale at the Staples Center.  Those fifteen to twenty extra pounds might have made all the difference in the world. Maybe he would’ve been a little quicker, maybe he could’ve sustained a faster pace in order to tire out the champion. In his most recent fight against Brian Minto, Arreola weighed in at a career high 263. It looks like “The Nightmare” isn’t willing to change for anyone. At this pace, the only nightmares he’ll be providing will be to the management of Hometown Buffets all across Riverside.  Just kidding “Nightmare”!

6. More respect for the lighter weights

Real boxing fans know that the most exciting fighters in the sport are usually found toiling in weight divisions south of 154 pounds. Pacquiao, Cotto, Juan Manuel Marquez, Edwin Valero, Israel Vazquez, Juan Ma Lopez, Vic Darchinyan, Rafael Marquez and countless others have been the real driving force behind this sport. It’s those great fighters that have made boxing fanatics out of casual fans. The heavyweights may get all the money and glory but it’s the little guys who make the sport shine and it’s time they received greater compensation. It’s dismaying to think that a mediocre heavyweight can make three or four times as much as the great Rafael Marquez.

5. An American Heavyweight champion

Speaking of heavyweights, two Americans tried and failed at dethroning Vitali Klitschko this year. Both Kevin Johnson and Chris Arreola did their best to wrestle the belt away from “Dr. Klitschko” but came up short since they were easily outclassed. What happened to the great American Heavyweight? Where’s our new Joe Frazier or Ali? Even a new Gerry Cooney or a Ken Norton would do at this point. I’ve got a feeling that the only way we’re going to see an American champion is if Klitschko retires. My money is on Arreola. Although undisciplined and rough outside the ring, he’s got tons (no pun intended) of natural talent. He’s without a doubt the most talented American heavyweight on the scene.

4. More ShoBox

The Showtime Cable network gave us the best boxing on TV for the price of a cable television subscription. Their ShoBox series has been a proven hit for Senior VP of Sports Programming Ken Hershman. The concept is simple yet brilliant. Match up two up and comers with great records and let’s see what happens. Sometimes the results are surprising. Many have passed the ShoBox test and went on to bigger and better things. Others have been exposed as having padded records and eventually their careers stall and take a dive.

3. More safety in Mexico so I can attend a show without a gun battle breaking out

Having lived near the Tijuana border all my life I’m dismayed at the war zone that the city has evolved into. Every day there are reports of shootings fueled by the drug war trade. Believe it or not, there was a time when Tijuana was safe and most wouldn’t have thought twice about crossing the border for some seafood and nightlife. No more. Having covered several boxing cards on Revolucion Avenue many years ago, I got a taste of just how important the sport is to Mexican fans. It’s also important to me but not that important. For now I’ll stick to covering shows at the Pechanga Casino and in the less dangerous city of L.A. I never thought I’d say that.

2. Pac Man vs. Mayweather

This is the fight everyone wants to see. Seeing how Mayweather dominated Pac Man’s arch enemy, Juan Manuel Marquez, you have to wonder if the Filipino can handle Lil’ Floyd’s speed and size. One thing is for sure, betting against Pacquiao doesn’t usually work out for me. It never has. There’s no future in it. So if the fight gets done it’s Pacquiao by TKO in ten.

1. And finally

One final wish is reserved for all the readers of TheSweetScience.com I wish you all a healthy and happy 2010. Thank you for your continued loyalty to the site. It’s very much appreciated.

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Articles of 2009

A Very Special New Year's Day Column

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It has been just over four months since Nick Charles, the play-by-play announcer for Shobox: The New Generation, was diagnosed with stage IV bladder cancer and forced to take a medical hiatus from the monthly show that has aired since 2001.

Since then he has undergone grueling chemotherapy treatments that have resulted in him losing all of his hair as he forces himself to live as normal of a life as possible. Through sheer force of will, as well as the strength and support that he receives from his wonderfully loving family and his strong Christian faith, the 63-year-old Charles has managed to keep his weight up while not falling prey to the always lingering threats of depression, cynicism and negativity.

If one was unaware that he was battling such an insidious disease, you’d never know from talking on the phone to him that he has been to hell and back. He has lost none of the inspiring energy that has endeared him to members of the boxing community and legions of worldwide viewers.

“I’m doing great,” Charles said during a telephone conversation on December 30th. “I’ve been off the chemo for a month, and the doctors have told me that I’m 80 percent in remission. I’m going to see them again in three months. It may come back, but if it takes one year, or two years, or however long, I’m going to make the most of the good time.”

As physically and emotionally wrenching as the grim diagnosis and subsequent treatment has been, even for someone as perpetually positive as Charles, the longtime announcer said a lot of good things have come from it.

Having been married three times, Charles is the father of four children: Jason, 38, Melissa, 34, Charlotte, 22, and Giovanna, 3 ½.

While Charles is not big on regrets, he is the first to admit that he wasn’t always there for his older children. For many years he traveled the world as a CNN correspondent, often putting the demands of his career above all else, including those closest to him. Nowhere was the strain more evident than in his relationship with Melissa.

Having been divorced from Melissa’s mother since 1977, Charles said his relationship with that daughter has been especially “hot and cold, all of our lives.”

His illness has enabled them to forge a relationship that has been “based on a massive amount of forgiveness and understanding.”

“This has had a tremendous healing effect on both of us,” said Charles. “My illness has had a fortifying effect on a lot of things, the most important of which is my relationships with my family.”

That also includes his first wife, with whom he has had an often acrimonious relationship over the past three decades.

“It took a long time for the scab to become a scar, but we had lunch one day and it was so great to once again see the gentle, soft sides of each other,” he explained. “The whole divorce process creates a hardness that doesn’t always go away.”

Charles is also the grandfather to three children, some of whom are about the same age as his youngest daughter. He jokes that he has a “nuclear 21st century family” because of the similar ages of two generations of children. One of the hardest things for him has been the realization that he can’t always play with them in manner in which he would like.

“The hemoglobin is the fuel in your tank, so when it’s low you can’t will yourself to do things no matter how much you want to,” said Charles. “You can’t just sleep it off or work through it. I don’t want the kids to wonder why I can’t play in the backyard with them, or kick a soccer ball, or throw them in the air.”

Particularly difficult is when Giovanna reminds her father of how handsome he is, but then innocently asks him what happened to his hair, eyebrows and lashes.

“You try to keep things on a need to know basis, which is not easy when dealing with curious kids,” said Charles.

While Charles might look like the kind of guy that things have often come easy to, the reality is that his beginnings were far from auspicious. But, he says, his often challenging Chicago childhood blessed him with the steely resolve that has helped him so much during the arduous journey he is now on.

“I had it pretty rough growing up,” he explained. “I remember the lights and the heat being shut off and eating mustard sandwiches. I went to work at 13 and always had insecurities about the future. But I always expected and saw the best in people, so when I got sick, never once did I say 'Why me?”

Since taking a leave of absence from Shobox, the outpouring of support from the boxing community has warmed Charles’s heart. For a guy that is battling for his life, he actually considers himself fortunate to be surrounded by so much goodness in both his personal and professional lives.

“I always hear that boxing people are ruthless, but I couldn’t disagree more,” said Charles. “I’ve probably received about 1,000 e-mails, and people are always following in sending their best wishes. From the relatively unknown people in boxing to many of the more famous people, there has been an outpouring of true affection.”

Charles said that the Top Rank organization has been exceedingly kind and gracious. He was touched beyond description when he learned that officials in Oklahoma got special permission to have a seamstress sew “Keep Fighting Nick” onto their sleeves. He chokes up when talking about cut man Stitch Duran giving up an endorsement opportunity so he could put Charles’s name on his outfit. He never tires of hearing shout-outs from fighters on television.

Charles has always been a people person with an inordinate faith in the goodness of his fellow man. Battling this illness has only made his already strong faith in humanity even stronger.

“Adversity is a great teacher, and it really teaches you who your genuine friends are,” said Charles. “I have a lot of friends.”

He also has a remarkable wife, Cory, a CNN producer to whom he has been married for 11 years. She is the daughter of an electrician, a self-made woman who exudes all of the warmth of her native Brooklyn. She has reinforced her husband’s spiritual base by her love, optimism and strength of character.

“If I get down, she reminds me to not get too caught up,” said Charles. “I believe in eternity, and that has put me pretty much at peace.”

More than anything else, Charles wants to get himself back behind a microphone sooner rather than later, and hopefully on Shobox. He is the first to admit that viewers “don’t watch the series to see Nick Charles,” but he is proud of the fact that he was “part of the identity” of such a popular show.

“And people love comeback stories,” added Charles. “That’s the message I’m getting from the people out there.”

In boxing the word “champion” is often overused because it pertains only to winning belts and receiving worldwide recognition for being the best at your craft. The reality is that life’s real champions have other qualities, such as the innate ability to treat people well and always make them feel better about themselves, especially when the recipients of the goodwill are in no position to give them anything back.

By that standard of measure, Charles is as much, if not more of a champion than all of the boxers he has covered during the nine years that Shobox has been on the air.

I know I speak for scores of others when I say, “Happy New Year, Champ. We hope that you are the comeback story of the year in 2010.”

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