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UPDATED–24/7 RECAP: Floyd Slams PETA, Merchant, Is Chill With Dad

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floyd24-7I really, truly do not think it is out of the question that after he hangs up the gloves, Floyd Mayweather heads over to Vince McMahon’s WWE, because the man has the heel persona down super-pat. In the opening to the latest HBO 24/7 mini-series, Mayweather faced the camera and said, “I’m gonna tell the fans this. If Floyd “Money” Mayweather is not on 24/7, don’t even bother watching. Because when I’m on 24/7, it’s ‘you must watch TV.’

He then turns his gaze to the left, and asks his pal, the rap artist 50 Cent, to chime in support. Fiddy duly does, noting that the ratings drop when Mayweather isn’t involved. Yes, one can picture this duo taking the act on the road for WWE, riling up the unwashed masses in arenas coast to coast…though Floyd might not care for 300 days on the road and independent contractor status as one of McMahon’s crew.

Anyway, we will still have the 35 year-old Mayweather around in our sphere for a few more years, I’m guessing, because I haven’t seen any physical slippage in the man. “We run the show, baby. We is the show! Let us take over,” Mayweather commanded an unseen questioner.

Miguel Cotto is basically fine with that, in the promotional side of the May 5 bout, which pairs the Puerto Rican legend, the game’s reigning humble warrior, with his philosophical opposite, the pound for pound ace Mayweather. We see Cotto in the ring with trainer Pedro Diaz, working the bag and the 31-year-old scrapper says, “I don’t need to talk about Floyd. He’s the kind of guy who always needs and wants all the attention.” He is busy not shining the spotlight on himself, he says, but thinking through the bout in his head, thinking of ways to win. This fight, he says, is the best opportunity to show the world what he is made of. Fair to say, I think, that at the end of the night, most of us will be thinking the same of Cotto that we do know. That he is a proud warrior, doesn’t possess a hint of dog in him, but that he is not of the same caliber as Mayweather.

The show flashes back to Cotto’s to-this-point career definer, his Dec. 3, 2011 vanquishment of Antonio Margarito, the game’s reigning back-hat, who was busted in 2009 for trying to use illegal aids to better his punching power in a fight against Shane Mosley. A no-brainer, from a production standpoint, since Cotto’s low-key nature doesn’t scream “The camera likes this guy!” An image of his looks-like-he-had-a-baseball-bat-used-on-him face at the end of the first fight with Margarito always has impact on a viewer. Cotto discusses the scrap, and says he truly savored the moment, and that the win helped restore his confidence in himself. This is a re-born Cotto, we’re told.

At the Mayweather Boxing Club in Vegas, we see Floyd training. We hear about his impending jail stint, which will begin June 1. He says he’s happy the judge moved the sentence from January to the summer, to let him have his May bout, and says he’s not worried about the term. “I don’t even think about it,” he maintains. You will have to decide if that is bravado, or delusion vocalized, or that Floyd indeed isn’t mentally affected by the looming incarceration.

(My amateur shrink take: Floyd and his dad have a contentious relationship. I wonder if maybe this stint could actually help get them closer, because now Floyd will have something in common with his dad, who was released in 1997 after a 5 and a half year term for drug trafficking. I do not specifically recall Floyd ever lording it over his dad that he’s a convicted felon, but if he’s ever tried to hurt his dad for not being there for him, by citing the stint, well, that option won’t be available. This term could actually help bond the men. But my gut tells me Floyd can’t be looking forward to the jail time, the humiliation of having your freedom, to ride in flashy cars, and flash wads, and such, taken away. It has to weigh on him, I have to think and has to be a distraction, something that takes away from his stellar focus.

In a 1998 NY Times piece, Senior said, ''I remember him visiting me in jail many times, and I could tell by the expression on his face what he was thinking: 'Daddy, you're caged up like an animal.' ''

Mayweather Jr. said: ''I wanted to cry, seeing him like that, but I was supposed to be a man. So I didn't.''

If it made him want to cry when he was a teen and young man, well, my guess is that it will push buttons today. Maybe not all bad buttons, but buttons will be pushed. End amateur shrink take.)

Fiddy weighs in on the jail term. The pal, who was busted for drugs twice, three weeks apart, in 1994, and served seven months in boot camp, says one day is a day too many to spend locked up. He thinks Floyd won’t be thinking about the discomfort you feel being locked up, and that the term might help Floyd smarten up and live a more examined life. Leonard Ellerbe weighs in, and says Floyd took a plea so his family wouldn’t go through more, and that he knows the facts of the case don’t deserve a stint, basically.

Floyd says he’s in there “to eff you,” that he is “built for this. I like the smell of the gloves.”

In Orlando, Florida, Cotto is up before sunrise, and the whole team, including best pal Bryan Perez, who looks like he has lost over 150 pounds in the last year or so, is up at 4:30 AM. Cotto calls Diaz a “mastermind,” and gives him credit for the Dec. 3 showing, which was their first fight together. Diaz says Cotto is lightened by the Margarito win. “We know we’ll win,” the trainer says.

Floyd then talks up training. He says at camp the ring is called “The Doghouse.” It gets crowded around the ring when he’s sparring, just like at a fight between pitbulls. “I don’t want to get in trouble by..what’s the people called, PETA? I don’t want to get in trouble with the PETA people., the animal rights people, but s—t, I don’t give an eff, cause I wear mink coats. I’m gonna wear chinchilla, and I’m gonna rock mink coats,” he says, noting that many who lobby against wearing animal fur and skin also eat meat. (Not sure the stats on that, but I have to think the number of PETA folks who eat meat are REALLY small. PETA, can you weigh in here?)

(TUESDAY NOTE: I reached out to PETA on Monday afternoon, and got a response from them. Read here.)

We see a recap of Mayweather’s last bout, against Victor Ortiz in September. The leaping headbutt, the kiss and the two piece are shown. Trainer Roger Mayweather says he got what he had coming to him.

Floyd’s showdown with Larry Merchant is shown. “I wish I was fifty years younger and I’d kick your ass!” Merchant said after Floyd opined that he should be fired. Ten Larry Merchants, all age 21, could fight him, Mayweather says on 24/7, and lose.

If Merchant does work the Cotto bout, Mayweather says he won’t talk to him and will instead head to the dressing room and get his pay and hang with Fiddy.

We see Cotto, wife Melissa and the kids hanging out, enjoying family time, contrasting with Mayweather’s theatrical behavior. Melissa says she was proud of hubby for beating Margarito.

Back at the Mayweather gym, Floyd Sr. shows up, for the first time since he and Floyd got into a heated verbal scrap before the Ortiz bout. Then, Senior threatened to whup his son, and his son said dad was never any good in the ring. This time, hugs are exchanged between Senior and the Team, and he and Floyd embrace in a chilly, perfunctory manner. Senior says Floyd never apologized to him for the blowup. “At the end of the day he’s still my son anyway. Still my blood. I do think about him every day, but I live, and let live. All I do is attend my own business and leave everybody’s business alone. And I think that is the best thing for me to do.”

To sum up, Floyd says May 5 is business as usual. He’ll give the fans what they want. Cotto can fall on his face, his butt or wave a flag of surrender on May 5, he says. Cotto says Floyd never faced a fighter like him. Floyd disagrees: “I’m a winner! I’m a winner! Come May 5th I will win! I was born to win, and I will die a winner, you better believe that!”

Readers, your thoughts on the ep?

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The Ali-Shavers Fight and the Ever-Present Open Scoring Debate

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Saturday, Sept. 29, marks the 41st anniversary of Muhammad Ali’s last successful title defense. The 35-year-old Ali defended his WBA and WBC belts against Earnie Shavers, a devastating puncher, but otherwise limited, in Madison Square Garden. Those tuning in to the Thursday night fight on NBC, an estimated 70 million, were able to track the round-by-round scoring. And therein lies an interesting tale.

A bit of background. Technically, the first instance of open scoring, at least as it pertained to television, was to have been implemented by Ted Nathanson, producer for NBC Sports, which televised the May 11, 1977, heavyweight bout pitting Ken Norton against Duane Bobick in Madison Square Garden. Although on-site spectators would not have been privy to round-by-round scoring, the TV audience would have had such access. The grand experiment proved dead on arrival, however, when Norton needed only 58 seconds of the first round to blast out Bobick.

Nathanson was nothing if not determined, however, and he successfully lobbied for the same format to be used for the Ali-Shavers fight. As was the case for Norton-Bobick, spectators in the arena would not have the same access to the round-by-round scoring as would NBC viewers. The New York State Athletic Commission, then headed by former heavyweight champion Floyd Patterson, signed off on the arrangement with NBC with some hesitation.

John F.X. Condon, vice president of Garden Boxing, said he originally had planned to show the round-by-round scoring on the huge overhead screen to the 14,613 on-site spectators, but he decided against it. “We didn’t think it was wise,” Condon concluded. “Personally, I think it also detracts from the pleasure of watching at home. Fight fans like to get involved. They like the uncertainty of waiting for the final decision.”

Even more adamant in his opposition to open scoring, in any form, was legendary Garden matchmaker Teddy Brenner, who said he would do everything in his power to ensure that the NBC experiment would be a one-and-done, at least if he had anything to say about it. “I am against it,” Brenner stressed. “We at the Garden plan to do something about it.”

Unlike Norton-Bobick, Ali-Shavers would go the 15-round distance, with scoring on a round basis instead of the 10-point-must system now in place. Ali won by 9-5-1 on the card submitted by referee Johnny LoBianco and by 9-6 on the cards turned in by judges Tony Castellano and Eva Shain, the latter of who made history as the first woman ever to work a big-time fight. It was Ali’s 19th victorious title defense.

Garden officials were embarrassed, however, when a question of fairness was raised. The NBC telecast was shown in Ali’s dressing room, and a runner was assigned to keep Ali trainer Angelo Dundee informed of the judges’ evolving scores. The Shavers dressing room did not have similar access, which led his manager, Frank Luca, to complain of preferential treatment being granted to Ali. He said the NYSAC even attempted to obligate the fighters to use 10-ounce gloves instead of eight-ouncers, a change which was not approved but would have been detrimental to the harder-hitting challenger.

When informed of a playing field seemingly tilted to favor Ali, Patterson said the NYSAC never again would consent to open scoring at any venue in the state, be it for on-site spectators or just TV. “That will be stopped,” Patterson said. “I understand Angelo Dundee had someone running back to get him information and the other corner didn’t. That’s not fair. It could influence a fight, affect gambling in the arena with cheaters. It was not a success and it will never happen again.”

Shavers, who went into the Ali fight with a 54-5-1 record that included 52 wins inside the distance, said he might have fought differently – yeah, right – had he been apprised of the round-by-round scoring. “My corner told me I was ahead,” he lamented. “I didn’t go for the knockout. I would have put more pressure on him, taken more chances.”

Promoter Don King pushed for open scoring on May 5, 1994, at a Las Vegas press conference to hype the pay-per-view card two nights later at the MGM Grand headlined by WBC super lightweight champion Frankie Randall’s rematch with Julio Cesar Chavez, whom he had controversially outpointed nearly four months earlier.

“Progress can’t be stopped,” King said with his trademark bluster and hyperventilation. “It’s time for a change. Bring boxing out of the dark and into the light. People who go to football and basketball games know what the score is at all times. Why should boxing be the only sport where judges pass little scraps of paper back and forth and nobody else knows who’s winning until the end?”

King said he had been “excoriated and vilified” for having promoted two bouts during the previous eight months that ended in questionable decisions, and that open scoring could eliminate or reduce the problem.

“If anything controversial happens, people will be calling for (WBC president) Jose Sulaiman and me to be ridden out of town on a rail,” King continued. “One little controversy and these four great (rematches, the others being Simon Brown vs. Terry Norris, Gerald McClellan vs. Julian Jackson and Azumah Nelson vs. Jesse James Leija) suddenly become secondary. I don’t want that to happen.”

His Hairness indisputably was on target in noting that the two referenced bouts, in which Pernell Whitaker retained his WBC welterweight title on a majority draw against Chavez on Sept. 10, 1993, and Randall nipped Chavez on a split decision in large part because JCC had been docked two penalty points by referee Richard Steele, were controversial. Most ringside observers had Whitaker winning eight to 10 of the 12 rounds in San Antonio, Texas, and were it not for the two penalty points Chavez would have won a split decision instead of losing by the same margin.

Although King advocated for open scoring to be instituted immediately, he had to know that the wheels of change do not move that swiftly in Nevada or any other jurisdiction. But Marc Ratner, the executive director of the Nevada State Athletic Commission, while expressing his own doubts as to the usefulness of open scoring, said such a proposal at least merited further scrutiny.

“For this particular card, there will be no open scoring,” Ratner said. “But we’re not ostriches. We don’t have our heads in the sand. This is an issue that should be studied.”

Studied and almost certainly likely to be rejected, as it later was by the NSAC, for reasons that to Ratner were even more glaringly obvious than those offered by King for the other course of action.

“What if two fighters accidentally butt heads in the fourth round and one of them suffers a cut?” hypothesized Ratner. “If the bleeding fighter is ahead on the scorecards, his corner might be tempted not to close the cut, thereby prompting the bout’s premature conclusion and a decision victory.”

An even more compelling reason to forever squash the notion of full-blown open scoring holds that a fighter, if he knows he is sufficiently ahead entering the late rounds to be uncatchable on the scorecards, would get on his bicycle and pedal around the ring to eliminate or at least reduce the risk of being knocked out. Such a safety-first approach would drain whatever measure of hope still existed for the losing fighter banking on a puncher’s-chance turnaround.

We haven’t heard the last of the open scoring debate. The subject came up again in the aftermath of the Golovkin-Alvarez rematch, a tightly contested bout which Alvarez won by majority decision, much to the displeasure of Golovkin and his supporters. But for now, fight fans must continue to live with the occasional scorecard that defies credulity. And while too much controversy is never a good thing, some of it helps sell the sport and keeps interest high up to and even beyond the final bell. The alternative is the elimination of uncertainty, and with it the magic that sometimes is produced when two fighters believe success hinges on giving maximum effort to the very last punch.

Bernard Fernandez is the retired boxing writer for the Philadelphia Daily News. He is a five-term former president of the Boxing Writers Association of America, an inductee into the Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Atlantic City Boxing Halls of Fame and the recipient of the Nat Fleischer Award for Excellence in Boxing Journalism and the Barney Nagler Award for Long and Meritorious Service to Boxing.

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George Groves and Callum Smith Finally Meet in the WBSS Capstone

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The 168-pound tournament of the inaugural World Boxing Super Series, an 8-man invitational, kicked off on Sept. 16 of last year with a match between Callum Smith and Erik Skoglund at Liverpool, England. Tournaments of this nature in boxing almost never play out as planned and this tourney was no exception. But on Friday we will finally crown a winner when Smith meets George Groves at Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, of all places. At stake will be the coveted Muhammad Ali Trophy and the bundle of cash that comes with it and Groves’ WBA “super” world super middleweight title.

Despite the odd location, this is a domestic affair. Groves, the top seed, and Smith, the #2 seed, are both Englishmen. And if the fight were on British soil, it would have certainly drawn well. In the UK, Groves is enormously popular. His second fight with Carl Froch attracted a crowd of 80,000 at Wembley Stadium, a British post-war record eventually broken by Joshua-Klitschko.

Groves (28-3, 20 KOs) suffered his lone defeats at the hands of Froch, who defeated him twice, and Badou Jack, and there’s no shame there. Carl Froch, in the minds of many, has a plaque waiting for him at the International Boxing Hall of Fame. Jack, a title-holder in two weight classes, is currently ranked #1 as a light heavyweight by the WBA and WBC.

Although both fights with Froch ended inside the distance, both were nip-and-tuck until Froch closed the curtain. Badou Jack defeated Groves by split decision in Las Vegas.

Groves has a high boxing IQ as he demonstrated on Feb 17 in Manchester where he scored a 12-round unanimous decision over Chris Eubank Jr. Groves, observed ringside reporter Gareth Davies, “was just a step too far, too strong and ultimately too technical and experienced in the championship rounds.” Eubank’s father and trainer Chris Eubank Sr. saluted Groves for fighting the perfect fight.

The victory was bittersweet as Groves dislocated his left shoulder in the final round. It required surgery, pushing back the finale until this Friday, a full two months after the conclusion of the other WBSS tourney, for cruiserweights, the finale of which was also pushed back from the originally scheduled date. For a time the promoters seriously considered bumping Eubank into the finals in place of the incapacitated Groves but eventually thought better of it. (Eubank will appear on the undercard in a stay-busy fight against Ireland’s J.J. McDonagh.)

Callum Smith (24-0, 18 KOs) is the youngest of four fighting brothers, each of whom captured one or more regional titles. In the family, the relationship between talent and birth order is inverse, which is to say that Paul Smith, the oldest of the foursome, wasn’t as good as his younger brother Stephen and Stephen wasn’t as good as younger brother Liam.

Liam “Beefy” Smith accomplished what his two older brothers could not, winning a world title. He won the WBO 154-pound diadem in his twenty-second fight and successfully defended the belt twice before it was sheared from him by Canelo Alvarez who knocked him out in the ninth round.

If Callum Smith wins on Friday, he will be recognized by hardcore fans as a more legitimate champion than was the case with his brother Liam. That’s because Callum, who stands six-foot-three (none of his brothers is taller than 5’11”), was touted from the very onset of his career as the most gifted of the fighting Smith brothers. He solidified that opinion in November of 2015 when he knocked out Liverpool rival Rocky Fielding in the opening round. Fielding went on to win the “regular” version of the WBA 168-pound title and that remains the only blemish on his record.

In recent bouts, however, Smith hasn’t looked that sharp. His last two opponents, the aforementioned Skoglund and Neiky Holzken, lasted the full 12 rounds. The obscure Holzken, a converted kickboxer from the Netherlands, was a late sub for Juergen Braehmer who was forced to bow out of the tournament with an illness.

George Groves was a slight underdog to Eubank. On Friday, the odds favor him, but only slightly. At last look it was 13/10 which portends a very close fight. Groves has the edge in experience and in ring savvy and has fought tougher opposition, but Smith will have a three-and-a-half inch height advantage and is judged to be the harder puncher.

Fight fans in the U.S. can access the fight on the new DAZN app. Keep in mind that Saudi Arabia is seven hours ahead of New York and other precincts in the Eastern Time Zone and adjust accordingly.

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Three Punch Combo: A Bouquet for “ShoBox” and More

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THREE PUNCH COMBO — We are embarking into a new age in boxing. There are new television contracts and digital platforms available that are making the sport more visible than ever before to the masses. But with all these new deals and platforms, it is important not to forget some of the consistent programming that has been around for some time. There is no better example of this than the ShoBox series on Showtime.

ShoBox, more formally ShoBox: The New Generation, began with a simple premise of matching young prospects in with tough opposition. To get their fighters on this series, promoters would have to find credible opponents who could potentially test and maybe even upset their prized prospect. This premise has led to consistently competitive and entertaining fights in the more than 200 broadcasts since the inception of the series in 2001.

This past Friday, we saw just how this premise works once again. There was a four fight card that featured competitive fights on paper in all the matches. However, in two of those matches there did seem to be clear favorites though each of the respective fighters was being matched with their toughest foe to date.

James Wilkins and Misael Lopez opened the telecast in a 130-pound contest. Wilkins was featured in a documentary that aired on Showtime just prior to the card and was expected to make a smashing television debut. He was a knockout artist and the thought was that he would put on a show to open the telecast. But instead, Wilkins got a boxing lesson from Lopez who was busier from the outside and managed to mostly avoid the power of Wilkins throughout the contest in winning an eight round unanimous decision.

The main event featured Jon Fernandez facing O’Shaquie Foster in another 130-pound contest. Fernandez had been getting a lot of buzz and many in the sport considered the Spaniard a future star. This was supposed to be a test for Fernandez as Foster (pictured on the right) represented a step up in class, but nonetheless many expected Fernandez to pass the test with flying colors. Instead, the power punching Fernandez was clearly out-boxed by Foster for ten rounds in an entertaining fight.

These two fights showed once again that when young fighters are matched tough we often get better than expected fights that can sometimes deliver surprises. This coming Friday, the series returns with highly touted lightweight prospect Devin Haney (19-0, 13 KO’s) in the main event taking on former world title challenger Juan Carlos Burgos (33-2-2, 21 KO’s). This is a fight in which Haney is favored but one in which he is facing the toughest challenge of his young career. At the very least, this should be a test for the highly touted 19-year-old Haney and I am certain we get a compelling fight.

ShoBox is boxing’s most consistent series and one that just continues to provide fight fans with high caliber, competitive fights.

10 Percent or 10 Pounds – How To Combat Fighters Who Blow Up In Weight

It is time to address the issue of fighters gaining an absurd amount of weight following the weigh-in. There is a reason why we have weight classes in boxing. If one fighter enters the ring weighing significantly more than his opponent, it gives the bigger fighter a big advantage. This can make for not only non-competitive fights but potentially dangerous situations. I have a simple solution that I think can combat this problem.

In past articles, I have touched on the issue of fighters who miss the contracted weight. My argument has always been to implement a system with stiff financial penalties. So in a similar aspect, I think stiff financial penalties can combat the continued problem of fighters blowing up in weight after the official weigh-in.

What I propose is second day weigh-ins where fighters would not be permitted to put on more than ten pounds or 10 percent (whichever is more) of the contracted weight limit. If they are over, the fight still goes on but the fighter who misses the second day weight limit pays a substantial fine. This simple adjunct can be easily administered by the various state commissions in the United States (or any other commissions worldwide).

Here is an example:  Let’s say we have a fight contracted at 130 pounds and each fighter weighs in at 129 pounds. The second day limit would be 10 percent of 130 pounds which was the contracted weight. So each fighter could come in at a maximum of 143 pounds. Now let’s say one fighter comes in at 146 pounds. The penalty I propose would be 20 percent of that fighter’s purse per pound over the weight. And this money goes directly to their opponent. Under this example, the fighter over weight would lose 60 percent of his purse.

Zero Shouldn’t Mean That Much

We are in an era, largely due to The Floyd Mayweather Jr. Factor, where fighters are often overly protected to keep that precious zero in the loss column. But to do so, they are frequently matched with soft opposition and learn little from dismantling their overmatched foes. There is little to no growth in their career during this period and though the record may get glossy, the development of the fighter may be stunted.

Setbacks can humble fighters and make them see what needs to be done so as not to experience that feeling again. They become better overall fighters and put themselves in a better long term position in their career.

This past weekend, we saw two once promising prospects bounce back with career defining wins after suffering an early unexpected defeat. They are both now in prime position to have their respective careers blossom which may not have otherwise been the case.

Earlier I mentioned O’Shaquie Foster’s upset win against Jon Fernandez. Three years ago, Foster was a highly touted prospect. He had a good amateur background and was blessed athletically with dynamic speed. After building up an 8-0 record against less than formidable opposition, he lost in a dreadful performance to Samuel Teah. Another loss would follow several months later to Rolando Chinea. But Foster clearly learned from his mistakes in these fights and bounced back, layering his natural athletic ability with much improved skills in frankly outclassing Fernandez. Foster’s losses made him take a step back and re-evaluate what needed to be done inside the ring. He is now in prime position to become a contender in the 130-pound weight division.

Luke Campbell was a 2012 Olympic Gold Medalist and considered a can’t-miss future star in boxing. But in his 13th pro fight, in a rather shocking development, he was put on the canvas and lost a split decision to veteran Yvan Mendy. Another loss followed two years later against Jorge Linares but Campbell performed well while losing a split decision and flashed signs of improvement from the Mendy setback.

The rematch with Mendy for Campbell took place this past weekend and Campbell did what many expected him to do in their first encounter. He boxed effectively from the outside and mixed in precision combination punching to easily avenge the defeat. It was a dynamic performance by Campbell and put him in line for a big fight at lightweight.

Luke Campbell is a vastly different fighter from the one who lost to Mendy three years earlier and appears primed to potentially live up to the once high expectations. He is in a better spot today in his career due to what he learned from that first loss to Mendy.

Photo credit: Dave Mandel / SHOWTIME

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