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Las Vegas Journal Pt. 2: Lucas Matthysse vs. Mike Dallas Jr., And More

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Lucas Matthysse vs. Mike Dallas Jr

 Lucas Matthysse vs. Mike Dallas Jr – The timing of photographer Al Applerose was a good as Lucas Matthysse’s, as he sends Mike Dallas to the mat, stat.

Around 7 a.m. the drizzle wasn’t much as we headed to Starbucks to grab a large cup of coffee. After an hour or so of making calls and checking phone mail I returned back to the hotel to begin checking out. We grabbed some breakfast at the South Point Hotel and Casino.

Most fight cards begin at 4 p.m. or later, but the Golden Boy Promotions fight card was stacked with prospects and a total of 80 scheduled rounds of bouts meant an early 2 p.m. start. We arrived around 1 p.m. because you never know what can go wrong, especially with press credentials.

Sure enough we discover that neither Al nor I are on the list despite two e-mails requesting we be put on the list. No problem, the Golden Boy crew fixes the problem and we’re handed our badges. We still have some time to kill so we head to the sports book and watch the UCLA vs. Arizona State basketball game. I’m a UCLA alum so of course I want the Bruins to win. They don’t. That large seven-foot center from Arizona State has his way against the Wear brothers who obviously were never taught how to block out someone on rebounds. He grabs every missed basket.

At 2 p.m. sharp we head into The Joint where the fights are going to be held. We each look for our designated spots. I find mine and start hooking up my computer laptop. A waitress comes by to ask if I need anything? I request a 7-Up.

Just minutes later the first bout is announced and two fighters begin walking into the ring. A kid named Herb Begay from New Mexico and Will Sands from Australia open up the show. Though few people are in the audience the pair of middleweights are slinging bombs. Each guy is rocked and the fight goes back and forth. After four rounds the fight is ruled a draw.

Another Australian, Chad Bennett, enters the ring and has Ghana’s Ben Ankrah across the ring. The taller Aussie is conservative at first but it’s obvious he has some power. The Ghana boxer who has 28 pro bouts of experience tries some of his moves to stay out of range. A right uppercut by Bennett drops Ankrah. He survives. In round three Ankrah is not so lucky. A right hook finishes Ankrah in 59 seconds. It’s Bennett’s 22nd KO in 38 pro fights.

The crowds begin to filter into the Joint as Houston’s Jermall Charlo enters the arena to fight Joshua Williams. Charlo has a twin who will be fighting later on. Both are trained by Ronnie Shields and managed by Al Haymon. One or both are expected to reach the contender level. First, Jermall pounds away at Williams with some landing perfectly on the chin. But Williams has a pretty good shock absorber and withstands the blows. The bad thing is he doesn’t have enough firepower or speed to command respect from Charlo. After five rounds of one-sided pounding Williams’ corner throws in the towel.

A few more media guys and girls show up. Las Vegas has some good journalists from web sites and the local daily newspaper. Steve Carp is one of the best sportswriters in the country and writes for the Las Vegas Review Journal. He’s always on top of it, especially covering boxing in Las Vegas. The web writers in the area are also very good. They arrive early to cover the card. Like me, they want to cover all of the card if possible. Some writers only feel obligated to cover the main events or those televised. But it’s the prospects that interest me. That’s where you can discover who is good early in their career. It’s also where you can find out who is tough, who has skills, who has speed and who can take a punch.

The next fight is a good example of evaluating prospects when Julian Ramirez of L.A. fights San Bernardino’s Juan Sandoval. Though Sandoval has 12 losses he gives everyone he fights a difficult time. Some of his losses came via errant judging. If an opponent takes him lightly, he will take that guy out. I once saw him knock out a vaunted Puerto Rican national champion. He’s a little awkward but has a good chin and knows how to punch when another guy is punching. It’s something that not all fighters know how to do. On this night, however, Ramirez jumps on Sandoval and fights mostly inside. He pushes and charges forward not allowing Sandoval to take advantage of his long arms. After six rough and tumble rounds, Ramirez takes a unanimous decision.

Junior middleweights are next on the list as Philadelphia’s Julian Williams takes on Jeremiah Wiggins of Virginia. Both have 10 wins with Williams undefeated and Wiggins only one loss. On this night Williams shows a tight defense and more accuracy in his punching. Wiggins is knocked for a loop and is held up by the ropes forcing referee Robert Byrd to call it a knockdown and give an eight count. Wiggins starts to take a pounding and in round seven someone from his corner tosses a white towel. The fight is stopped with Wiggins complaining to his corner about the stoppage.

A long intermission took place so I walked around the arena to see who was in attendance. First I spoke to James Pena who trains Melinda Cooper. She was supposed to attend the fight card but bowed out. Pena was there and we spoke about some of the fights that had already happened. Though he’s in his early 40s he’s been training fighters or training himself for more than 25 years. Boxing is in his blood.

Next I bumped into Jorge Linares, the talented former champion from Venezuela. He was there with his team enjoying the fights. We talked a bit and departed soon after. Linares is a real friendly guy with impeccable manners. He’s also a very good prizefighter.

I spotted Paul Malignaggi but he’s surrounded by autograph seekers and fans wishing to converse with the world champion from Brooklyn. I also see former judge Chuck Giampa sitting with his wife Lisa Giampa. We greet each other and I walk toward the upper aisles. I talk to some good friends and while conversing Al Bernstein stops by. A few minutes later, Malignaggi calls out to me to say hello.

Zab Judah is in the crowd but is swarmed by fans. I also see Jackie Kallen, who manages Mike Dallas Jr. She seems nervous. I returned to my seat once they began to play music.

Before the semi-main event one of the public relations guys tells me Chris Pearson is available for an interview. I said sure. Pearson is one of those kids that I’m sure is going to win a world title very soon. Pearson says he wants a title before next year comes around. The kid can really box. I saw him fight for the L.A. Matadors in the boxing league two years ago. He was impressive. Pearson is set to fight on Saturday Nov. 2, at the Cosmopolitan in Las Vegas. Don’t miss this guy.

The other half of the Charlo brothers Jermell enters the ring to fight Harry Joe Yorgey. On paper it looks like an even fight with Charlo sporting 19 wins and zero losses. Yorgey has 25 wins and only one loss. That lone defeat came against Alfredo “Perro” Angulo who is sitting in the audience. The fight begins and it’s clear that Charlo has the advantage. He pops Yorgey continuously with the right cross. Yorgey is eventually knocked out in the eighth round by a right hand. Charlo looked good and confident. If he can gather convincing wins against fellow contenders he could find himself matched with someone like Angulo.

Ironically, while I’m writing up the fight that just transpired, Angulo walks up to my table and taps me on the shoulder. He’s an old friend and someone that doesn’t have an ego problem. I greet the slugger from Mexicali. I first met Angulo when I saw him sparring with Antonio Margarito when the Tijuana Tornado was preparing for a fight. He was giving Margarito hell so I asked one of the trainers in the gym who he was. They said Perro. They didn’t know his name. I kept an eye on him and when he was put on a Gary Shaw fight card at Chumash Casino I made it a point to travel the nearly 200 miles to watch him fight. He won by knockout that night and I remember how happy he was to win in front of his mother. He just kept knocking people out and vaulted to notoriety as someone to look out for. Despite the lightning fame Angulo is always the gentleman.

The semi-main event was beginning with Mexico’s Jesus Soto Karass entering the ring as a distinct underdog against Turkey’s Selcuk Aydin. Everyone expected a terrifc fight for as long as it lasted, but few felt Soto Karass could handle the Turk.

Soto Karass is one of those go-for-broke fighters. He’s there to fight and not simply to survive. It’s the main reason he was signed by Golden Boy after Top Rank let him go. Aydin had that look of supreme confidence until Soto Karass nailed him with some body shots in the second round. From then on Aydin did not want to fight inside. That was the difference in the fight.

“I expected a different kind of fight from him,” said Soto Karass who trains in Los Angeles. “In the second round I knew I would beat him.”

Aydin was content to land one big blow then scamper away. Meanwhile Soto Karass was firing combinations and was simply the busier puncher. Two judges scored it for Soto Karass, one judge had it a draw. The crowd was made ecstatic by the Mexican fighter’s win. Angulo was ringside cheering on his old stable mate.

Now the main event was about to take place. Argentina’s Lucas Matthysse was a heavy 33 to 1 favorite against Mike Dallas Jr., who despite a speed and height advantage was going to face a very heavy puncher. The bell rang with Dallas circling around while shooting jabs. Matthysse was pressuring more than usual for the first round. In the past he would use the first round to discover what his opponent was going to do and to feel out his power. Not this time.

Before long the two exchanged and Matthysse clipped Dallas with a right hand. It wasn’t a solid blow but enough to make Dallas move the heck out of there. He tried to throw a left that Matthysse ducked under and instantly was caught with an overhand right. Two more punches did follow but were unnecessary. Dallas was headed to the canvas like a fallen tree. Dallas was out.

The place erupted. Fans were everywhere and the media was in a frenzy to get quotes and send their stories and photos out. Matthysse came to the press tables and explained how he was waiting for Dallas to throw the left. He did and that was that.

Matthysse has now knocked out five consecutive opponents since losing a disputed decision to Devon Alexander in 2011. Everyone knows he hits like he has concrete in his gloves, but that’s not the secret of his success. The real secret is that he has phenomenal footwork. I once saw him in a workout with fellow Argentine Sergio Martinez. Everybody knows Martinez has great agility and footwork, but few know that Matthysse does too. That day they worked on footwork for hours and Matthysse proved as nimble as Martinez. Most pressure fighters forget to work on their footwork so they look terrible against movers like Dallas. Not Matthysse. Whether they’re moving or not, he knows how to catch them and has the tools to do it.

After I wrote the story we ran into Chris Ben, who used to train former world champions Vaia Zaganas and Elena “Baby Doll” Reid. Now he’s working with Ana Julaton in Las Vegas. Julaton was at the fights with her advisor and co-trainer Angelo Reyes. We talked a little bit but we had to meet some people who were waiting for me.

After meeting our friends we headed to dinner in the Chinatown area. We stopped at a sushi place with trainer James Pena and talked about boxing. Following dinner we headed back home to Southern California. It was foggy in Las Vegas, but once we passed the South Point Hotel it was clear riding for most of the drive. We hit another fog bank 200 miles later in Fontana but we took our time driving through it.

One thing I learned about this trip is which prospects to watch out for. Another thing I learned is that Matthysse just might be the new Mike Tyson or Kostya Tszyu.

 

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The BWAA Shames Veteran Referee Laurence Cole and Two Nebraska Judges

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In an unprecedented development, the Boxing Writers Association of America has started a “watch list” to lift the curtain on ring officials who have “screwed up.” Veteran Texas referee Laurence Cole and Nebraska judges Mike Contreras and Jeff Sinnett have the unwelcome distinction of being the first “honorees.”

“Boxing is a sport where judges and referees are rarely held accountable for poor performances that unfairly change the course of a fighter’s career and, in some instances, endanger lives,” says the BWAA in a preamble to the new feature. Hence the watch list, which is designed to “call attention to ‘egregious’ errors in scoring by judges and unacceptable conduct by referees.”

Contreras and Sinnett, residents of Omaha, were singled out for their scorecards in the match between lightweights Thomas Mattice and Zhora Hamazaryan, an eight round contest staged at the WinnaVegas Casino in Sloan, Iowa on July 20. They both scored the fight 76-75 for Mattice, enabling the Ohio fighter to keep his undefeated record intact via a split decision.

Although Mattice vs. Hamazaryan was a supporting bout, it aired live on ShoBox. Analyst Steve Farhood, who was been with ShoBox since the inception of the series in 2001, called it one of the worst decisions he had ever seen. Lead announcer Barry Tompkins went further, calling it the worst decision he has seen in his 40 years of covering the sport.

Laurence Cole (pictured alongside his father) was singled out for his behavior as the third man in the ring for the fight between Regis Prograis and Juan Jose Velasco at the Lakefront Arena in New Orleans on July 14. The bout was televised live on ESPN.

In his rationale for calling out Cole, BWAA prexy Joseph Santoliquito leaned heavily on Thomas Hauser’s critique of Cole’s performance in The Sweet Science. “Velasco fought courageously and as well as he could,” noted Hauser. “But at the end of round seven he was a thoroughly beaten fighter.”

His chief second bullied him into coming out for another round. Forty-five seconds into round eight, after being knocked down for a third time, Velasco spit out his mouthpiece and indicated to Cole that he was finished. But Cole insisted that the match continue and then, after another knockdown that he ruled a slip, let it continue for another 35 seconds before Velasco’s corner mercifully threw in the towel.

Controversy has dogged Laurence Cole for well over a decade.

Cole was the third man in the ring for the Nov. 25, 2006 bout in Hildalgo, Texas, between Juan Manuel Marquez and Jimrex Jaca. In the fifth round, Marquez sustained a cut on his forehead from an accidental head butt. In round eight, another accidental head butt widened and deepened the gash. As Marquez was being examined by the ring doctor, Cole informed Marquez that he was ahead on the scorecards, volunteering this information while holding his hand over his HBO wireless mike. The inference was that Marquez was free to quit right then without tarnishing his record. (Marquez elected to continue and stopped Jaca in the next round.)

This was improper. For this indiscretion, Cole was prohibited from working a significant fight in Texas for the next six months.

More recently, Cole worked the 2014 fight between Vasyl Lomachenko and Orlando Salido at the San Antonio Alamodome. During the fight, Salido made a mockery of the Queensberry rules for which he received no point deductions and only one warning. Cole’s performance, said Matt McGrain, was “astonishingly bad,” an opinion echoed by many other boxing writers. And one could site numerous other incidents where Cole’s performance came under scrutiny.

Laurence Cole is the son of Richard “Dickie” Cole. The elder Cole, now 87 years old, served 21 years as head of the Texas Department of Combat Sports Regulation before stepping down on April 30, 2014. At various times during his tenure, Dickie Cole held high executive posts with the World Boxing Council and North American Boxing Federation. He was the first and only inductee into the inaugural class of the Texas Boxing Hall of Fame, an organization founded by El Paso promoter Lester Bedford in 2015.

From an administrative standpoint, boxing in Texas during the reign of Dickie Cole was frequently described in terms befitting a banana republic. Whenever there was a big fight in the Lone Star State, his son was the favorite to draw the coveted refereeing assignment.

Boxing is a sideline for Laurence Cole who runs an independent insurance agency in Dallas. By law in Texas (and in most other states), a boxing promoter must purchase insurance to cover medical costs in the event that one or more of the fighters on his show is seriously injured. Cole’s agency is purportedly in the top two nationally in writing these policies. Make of that what you will.

Complaints of ineptitude, says the WBAA, will be evaluated by a “rotating committee of select BWAA members and respected boxing experts.” In subsequent years, says the press release, the watch list will be published quarterly in the months of April, August, and December (must be the new math).

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Popo vs. “La Hiena”: Blast From the Past – Episode Two

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Freitas

When WBA/WBO super featherweight champion Acelino “Popo” Freitas met Jorge Rodrigo “Il Hiena” Barrios in Miami on August 8, 2003, there was more on the line than just the titles. This was a roughhousing 39-1-1 Argentinian fighting an equally tough 33-0 Brazilian. The crowd was divided between Brazilian fans and those from Argentina. To them this was a Mega-Fight; this was BIG.

When Acelino Freitas turned professional in 1995, he streaked from the gate with 29 straight KOs, one of the longest knockout win streaks in boxing history. He was fan-friendly and idolized in Brazil. Barrios turned professional in 1996 and went 14-0 before a DQ loss after which he went 25-0-1 with 1 no decision.

The Fight

The wild swinging “Hyena” literally turned into one as he attacked from the beginning and did not let up until the last second of the eleventh round. Barrios wanted to turn the fight into a street fight and was reasonably successful with that strategy. It became a case of brawler vs. boxer/puncher and when the brawler caught the more athletic Popo—who could slip and duck skillfully—and decked him with a straight left in the eighth, the title suddenly was up for grabs.

The Brazilian fans urged their hero on but to no avail as Barrios rendered a pure beat down on Popo during virtually the entirety of the 11th round—one of the most exciting in boxing history. Freitas went down early from a straight right. He was hurt, and at this point it looked like it might be over. Barrios was like a madman pounding Popo with a variety of wild shots, but with exactly one half of one second to go before the bell ending the round, Freitas caught La Hiena with a monster right hand that caused the Hyena to do the South American version of the chicken dance before he went down with his face horribly bloodied. When he got up, he had no idea where he was but his corner worked furiously to get him ready for the final round. All he had to do was hang in there and the title would change hands on points.

The anonymous architect of “In Boxing We Trust,” a web site that went dormant in 2010, wrote this description:

“Near the end of round 11, about a milli-second before the bell rang, Freitas landed a ROCK HARD right hand shot flush on Barrios’ chin. Barrios stood dazed for a moment, frozen in time, and then down he went, WOW WOW WOW!!!! Barrios got up at the count of 4, he didn’t know where he was as he looked around towards the crowd like a kid separated from his family at a theme park, but Barrios turned to the ref at the count of 8 and signaled that he was okay, SAVED BY THE BELL. It was panic time in the Barrios corner, as the blood continued to flow like lava, and he was bleeding from his ear (due to a ruptured ear drum). In the beginning of round 12, Freitas was able to score an early knockdown, and as Barrios stood up on wobbly legs and Freitas went straight at him and with a couple more shots, Barrios was clearly in bad shape and badly discombobulated and the fight was stopped. Freitas had won a TKO victory in round 12, amazing!!!!”

Later, Freitas tarnished his image with a “No Mas” against Diego Corrales, but he had gone down three times and knew there was no way out. He went on to claim the WBO world lightweight title with a split decision over Zahir Raheem, but that fight was a snoozefest and he lost the title in his first defense against Juan “Baby Bull” Diaz.

Freitas looked out of shape coming in to the Diaz fight and that proved to be the case as he was so gassed at the end of the eighth round that he quit on his stool. This was yet another shocker, but others (including Kostya Tszyu, Mike Tyson, Oscar De La Hoya and even Ali) had done so and the criticism this time seemed disproportionate.

Popo had grown old. It happens. Yet, against Barrios, he had proven without a doubt that he possessed the heart of a warrior.

The Brazilian boxing hero retired in 2007, but came back in 2012 and schooled and KOd the cocky Michael “The Brazilian Rocky” Oliveira. He won another fight in 2015 and though by now he was visibly paunchy, he still managed to go 10 rounds to beat Gabriel Martinez in 2017 with occasional flashes of his old explosive volleys. These later wins, though against lower level opposition, somewhat softened the memories of the Corrales and Diaz fights, both of which this writer attended at the Foxwoods Resort in Mashantucket, Connecticut. They would be his only defeats in 43 pro bouts.

Like Manny Pacquiao, Freitas had a difficult childhood but was determined to make a better life for himself and his family. And, like Manny, he did and he also pursued a career in politics. Whether he makes it into the Hall will depend on how much a ‘No Mas’ can count against one, but he warrants serious consideration when he becomes eligible.

As for the Hyena, on April 8, 2005, he won the WBO junior lightweight title with a fourth round stoppage of undefeated but overweight Mike Anchondo. In January 2010 he was involved in a hit and run accident in which a 20-year-old pregnant woman was killed. On April 4, 2012 Barrios was declared guilty of culpable homicide and sentenced to four years in prison. He served 27 months and never fought again, retiring with a record of 50-4-1.

Ted Sares is one of the oldest active full power lifters in the world. A member of Ring 10, and Ring 4’s Boxing Hall of Fame, he was recently cited by Hannibal Boxing as one of three “Must-Read” boxing writers.

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The Avila Perspective Chapter 6: Munguia, Cruiserweights and Pacman

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Adjoining states

Adjoining states in the west host a number of boxing cards including a world title contest that features a newcomer who, before knocking out a world champion, was erroneously categorized by a Nevada official as unworthy of a title challenge.

Welcome to the world of Mexico’s Jaime Munguia (29-0, 25 KOs) the WBO super welterweight world titlist who meets England’s Liam Smith (26-1-1, 14 KOs) at the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas on Saturday, July 21. HBO will televise

Back in April when middleweight titan Gennady “GGG” Golovkin was seeking an opponent to replace Saul “Canelo” Alvarez who was facing suspension for performance enhancement drug use, it was the 21-year-old from Tijuana who volunteered his services for a May 5th date in Las Vegas.

Bob Bennett, the Executive Director for Nevada State Athletic Commission, denied allowing Munguia an opportunity to fight Golovkin for the middleweight titles. Bennett claimed that the slender Mexican fighter had not proven worthy of contesting for the championship though the tall Mexican wielded an undefeated record of 28 wins with 24 coming by knockout.

To be fair, Bennett has seen many fighters in the past with undefeated records who were not up to challenges, especially against the likes of Golovkin. But on the other hand, how can an official involved in prizefighting deny any fighter the right to make a million dollar payday if both parties are willing?

That is the bigger question.

Munguia stopped by Los Angeles to meet with the media last week and spoke about Bennett and his upcoming first world title defense. He admitted to being in the middle of a whirlwind that is spinning beyond his expectations. But he likes it.

“I’ve never won any kind of award before in my life,” said Munguia at the Westside Boxing Club in the western portion of Los Angeles. “I’ve always wanted to be a world champion since I was old enough to fight.”

When asked how he felt about Nevada’s denying him an attempt to fight Golovkin, a wide grin appeared on the Mexican youngster.

“I would like to thank him,” said Munguia about Bennett’s refusal to allow him to fight Golovkin. “Everything happens for a reason.”

That reason is clear now.

Two months ago Munguia put on a frightening display of raw power in knocking down then WBO super welterweight titlist Sadam Ali numerous times in front of New York fans. It reminded me of George Foreman’s obliteration of Joe Frazier back in the 1970s. World champions are not supposed get battered like that but when someone packs that kind of power those can be the terrifying results.

Still beaming over his newfound recognition, Munguia has grand plans for his future including challenging all of the other champions in his weight category and the next weight division.

“I want to be a great champion,” said Munguia. “I want to make history.”

The first step toward history begins on Saturday when he faces former world champion Smith who was dethroned by another Mexican named Canelo.

Cruiserweight championship

It’s not getting a large amount of attention in my neighborhood but this unification clash between WBA and IBF cruiserweight titlist Murat Gassiev (26-0, 19 KOs) and WBC and WBO cruiserweight titlist Oleksandr Usyk (14-0, 11 KOs) has historic ramifications tagged all over it.

The first time I ever saw Russia’s 24-year-old Gassiev was three years ago when he made his American debut at the Quiet Cannon in Montebello. It’s a small venue near East L.A. and the fight was attended by numerous boxing celebrities such as James “Lights Out” Toney, Mauricio “El Maestro” Herrera and Gennady “GGG” Golovkin. One entire section was filled by Russian supporters and Gassiev did not disappoint in winning by stoppage that night. His opponent hung on for dear life.

Ukraine’s Usyk, 31, made his American debut in late 2016 on a Golden Boy Promotions card that staged boxing great Bernard Hopkins’ final prizefight. That night the cruiserweight southpaw Usyk bored audiences with his slap happy style until lowering the boom on South Africa’s Thabiso Mchunu in round nine at the Inglewood Forum. The sudden result stunned the audience.

Now it’s Gassiev versus Usyk and four world titles are at stake. The unification fight takes place in Moscow, Russia and will be streamed via Klowd TV at 12 p.m. PT/ 3 p.m. ET.

Seldom are cruiserweight matchups as enticing to watch as this one.

Another Look

A couple of significant fights took place last weekend, but Manny Pacquiao’s knockout win over Lucas Matthysse for the WBO welterweight world title heads the list.

Neither fighter looked good in their fight in Malaysia but when Pacquiao floored Matthysse several times during the fight, it raised some red flags.

The last time Pacquiao knocked out a welterweight was in 2009 against Miguel Cotto in Las Vegas. Since then he had not stopped an opponent. What changed?

In this age of PEDs there was no mention of testing for the Pacquiao/Matthysse fight. For the curiosity of the media and the fans, someone should come forward with proof of testing. Otherwise any future fights for the Philippine great will not be forthcoming.

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