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Mayweather At Last Presser: “I Feel Stronger Than Last Time”

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LAS VEGAS (Sept. 10, 2014) – Fight week for “MAYHEM: Mayweather vs. Maidana 2” continued Wednesday as the main event fighters, Floyd “Money” Mayweather and Marcos “El Chino” Maidana, hosted their final press conference at the Hollywood Theatre at MGM Grand before their highly anticipated rematch on SHOWTIME PPV Saturday.

Here is what the fighter’s and their teams had to say Wednesday:

FLOYD MAYWEATHER, 11-Time, Five-Division World Champion

“Tunein and watch the fight because I’m going to be Floyd Mayweather and do what I do best and come out and win. I’ve been here before and I know what it takes to win at this level.

“We put it all on the line in the first fight. The fans demanded the rematch so we owe it to them to put it all on the line again. Maidana’s rugged. He’s a cool fighter and we’ll see how it plays out on Saturday.

“I have to focus on my fight. I can’t focus on anything else going on, I have a tough fighter in front me and he needs all my focus.

“We’ve had a remarkable training camp. Truly unbelievable. I feel a lot stronger than last time. It’s about hard work, dedication, prayers, belief and a good team.

“I know I’m almost 40, but I’m still going strong. I want to go out there and perform.

“The first fight was very interesting. Hopefully this time around the fight is even more exciting.

“Maidana is always in top shape. He absolutely deserves this rematch. I commend him for stepping up and making it happen again. I’m a true champion and a true champion never backs down.

“I need a knockout and I’m going for it. I need it to make a statement. First for myself, I want to do it for me.

“Robert Garcia can say what he wants to say. My dad can say what he wants to say. Both teams can go back and forth and bicker all day. In the end it comes down to skills, smarts and adjustments.

“We sparred with some guys who have similar styles to Maidana’s. Guys who threw a lot of looping, wild shots. Very strong rugged guys. We had a lot of good solid work with these guys.

“I don’t know who has the advantage in the rematch. I know I’m sharp, I know he’s sharp. I was able to make the adjustments in the first fight and we’ll see if he can make the adjustments this time.

“I don’t condone what happened. If I offended anyone, I apologize. I have this tough, rugged fighter in front of me and that’s what I have to focus on. I’m not perfect, I make mistakes and I don’t condone that at all.”

MARCOS MAIDANA, Former Welterweight World Champion

“I just know that I have to win. I’m concentrated on winning. I am going to take out any doubts in my mind about the first fight. I’ve adjusted now and I think I’ll be ready.

“I haven’t talked to Carlos Rios or Carlos Baldomir about their Mayweather fights but I have watched their fights. I noticed that being aggressive and attacking him is what makes him uncomfortable.

“I think I did get tired in the first fight. I have to pace myself a little better and this time around I will be better.

“If the knockout comes great, but I’m ready to go the distance as well. I’m ready to make history.

“I have to use my distance a little more and pick and choose my punches. I wasted too many punches last fight. I have to work my distance correctly and get leverage.

“I think Floyd got pressured by the press and I think that he knows the first fight was close so he’s giving me the rematch and I have to take full advantage.

“I actually had two full months to prepare this time. I worked very hard and that’s probably why I look a little skinnier this time.

“I think Floyd is going to run but I’m going to have to do a good job of cutting off the ring.”

LEONARD ELLERBE, CEO of Mayweather Promotions

“We’re expecting a very exciting fight in this rematch; both guys have a tremendous amount of confidence and had excellent training camps leading up to the fight.

“Marcos Maidana is coming in really believing he is going to win this fight.

“You can’t say enough about Floyd Mayweather. He’s become the face of boxing and often he is the guy who wears the target on his back. No matter what he does people tend to form an opinion, but that comes with the territory.

“Floyd has had a phenomenal career, he’s the best fighter in the world and he’s been a world champion since 1998. He’s beaten a number of world champions and in my eyes he will go down as the best to ever do it.

“Floyd has made several hundred millions of dollars, but money doesn’t motivate him. He’s able to get up in the wee hours of the morning, putting in the groundwork like he’s never earned a dime.

“He has a tremendous dedication to the sport and we will all miss him when he’s not fighting. When he goes into that ring he gives it his all and he’s dominated A-level fighters and made them look ordinary.

“The fans demanded the rematch and Floyd said no problem, lets put him in there. If the fans didn’t think I got it right the first time, I will this time. There will be no more questions left unanswered after the Mayweather-Maidana rematch.

“What other athlete in sports can you say, that has dominated everyone in front of him for so many years? We must find a way to acknowledge greatness when we see it. There will never be another fighter like him.”

ROBERT GARCIA, Maidana’s Trainer

“All games aside, we’re ready for this fight. We’ve prepared like never before. We know it’s not an easy fight but it’s not impossible either.

“We’re going to give the fans what they are waiting for. What the fans want to see, that’s what they’re going to get Saturday night.

“Our mindset is exactly the same as it was going into the first fight. We do not need a knockout to win. We can win a decision. We can win a decision by dominating every round.

“Marcos dominated for half the fight last time before he slowed down a little and sort of faded. He didn’t quite have the energy to do what he wanted for 12 rounds.

“The difference for this fight is that we had eight full weeks of training and not just five. He had more sparring, much better sparring.

“Mayweather is a great fighter, one of the greatest of all-time. I don’t think age has caught up with him. He has always taken such good care of his body. He works very hard. He’s still got that quickness.

“Mayweather’s a smart guy. I think he’s just politicking when he keeps complaining about Maidana being dirty in the first fight.

“Chino gained a lot of confidence in the first fight. That’s a big plus going into the rematch. He feels stronger, mentally and physically. He’s ready to do what he couldn’t quite do last time and that’s fight his fight for 12 rounds.’’

ERIC GOMEZ, Senior VP of Golden Boy Promotions

“Marcos gave Floyd probably the toughest fight that he has had in the last couple years. But, that’s what makes Floyd so great. He does things that people don’t expect him to do in boxing. I know that Floyd has proven everyone in this room wrong at least once.

“I know personally he has proven me wrong ever since he fought Oscar De La Hoya. Every single fight I’ve thought to myself, ‘Ok, this time we’ve got him’. That’s what makes Floyd great. Everyone has criticized him and said that he wouldn’t get past the likes of Ricky Hatton, Canelo or Victor Ortiz, but he has beaten them all.

“There is one critic that Floyd hasn’t been able to prove wrong, one critic that keeps him going, and that’s Floyd himself and that’s why he took this rematch. Floyd felt that the first fight was close and he wants to prove to everyone and to himself that he won that first fight and that he can do it again.

“I also know that Marcos is a very hungry fighter that felt that he was very, very close to beating Floyd Mayweather. He is here to prove that whatever it takes, any little inch that he needs more to beat Floyd, he will make it happen this time.’’

STEPHEN ESPINOZA, Executive VP and General Manager, SHOWTIME Sports

“We’re thrilled to be back here at MGM Grand again, this has become SHOWTIME’s home away from home. This is our fourth event that SHOWTIME is televising from this venue this year, the most of any venue and the sixth in the past two years.

“There’s no doubt that this Saturday ‘Mayweather vs. Maidana 2’ will be most likely the biggest fight of the year.

“No matter what the result is, I guarantee that the fight will be historic. Historic because what we are watching will be unprecedented. We all know about Floyd’s success, undefeated record, fighter of the year awards. But consider this, Floyd Mayweather has been ranked in the top-10 by Ring Magazine consecutively and continuously since March of 1998. He’s been in the top10 for 16 years which is unprecedented in another sport, and that’s not to mention multiple years of being the consensus pound-for-pound king.

“But to be candid, Marcos Maidana couldn’t care less about Floyd’s accolades. Back in May, Maidana gave Floyd perhaps the toughest fight of his career, 12 grueling hard- fought rounds. Then Floyd surprised many of us by saying he wanted the rematch. Maidana is one of the most accomplished fighters that Floyd has ever fought, and personally I can’t wait.’’

RICHARD STURM, President of Sports & Entertainment for MGM Resorts International

“We’re excited for this highly anticipated rematch. Floyd Mayweather will look to push his undefeated record to 47-0. We all know this will be another hard test as Marcos Maidana looks to avenge his hard-fought loss back in May.

“Las Vegas frequently plays host to a number of large number of major sports and entertainment events. This weekend MGM Resorts will once again play a critical role in the Las Vegas experience as we celebrate Mexican Independence Day weekend.”

BOB BENNETT, Executive Director of the Nevada State Athletic Commission

“We are honored and elated to regulate this great fight. I want to thank everyone involved for putting on this electric and exciting fight in the fight capital of the world.

“I would like to recognize Mr. Mayweather and Mr. Maidana and all the fighters who will be putting forth a gallant effort come this Saturday night. Without them this event would not be possible and I would like all the fighters to know that we wish them all the very best. ‘’

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Charr-Oquendo Scuttled When Charr Tests Positive; the Odious WBA Saves Face

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Manuel Charr

Manuel Charr and Fres Oquendo were scheduled to fight in Cologne, Germany, later this month (Sept. 29). Charr would be defending his WBA world heavyweight title, the “regular” version of it, not the “super” version which rests in the hands of Anthony Joshua.

The bout was quickly cancelled when it was revealed that Charr had tested positive for two banned anabolic steroids. The test was performed by VADA, the anti-doping agency identified with Las Vegas neurologist Dr. Margaret Goodman.

The 33-year-old Charr, born in Lebanon but a resident of Germany since the age of three, won the belt in his last start with a unanimous decision over 281-pound Russian behemoth Alexander Ustinov in Oberhausen, Germany. The title was vacant. Charr won the right to fight for it with a 10-round decision over Albanian slug Sefer Seferi. The victory over Ustinov elevated his record to 31-4. He has been stopped three times, by Vitali Klitschko, Alexander Povetkin, and Mairis Briedis.

If it wasn’t for bad luck, as the old saying goes, Fres Oquendo wouldn’t have any luck at all. For various reasons, his fights keep falling out. Before long he’ll be drawing social security. Well, not exactly, but he turned 45 in April and hasn’t fought in more than four years.

Oquendo has competed for this belt before. In his last ring appearance in July of 2014, he lost a majority decision to Russia’s Ruslan Chagaev in Grozny, Russia. As a concession for taking the fight on short notice, Team Oquendo negotiated a rematch clause in the contract, but a shoulder injury prevented Fres from activating it. When the injury healed, he had to go to court to compel Chagaev to fulfill his obligation. But then the Russian retired, muddling the water.

The WBA was legally bound to find Oquendo a title fight and in desperation turned to ancient Shannon Briggs. But the Oquendo-Briggs fight, scheduled for June 3 of last year in Hollywood, Florida, fell out when Briggs’ urine specimen showed an abnormally high level of testosterone.

Fres Oquendo was dogged by bad luck even before these recent developments. His professional record, 37-8, is somewhat misleading as six of his eight defeats were razor-thin including his 2003 setback to Chris Byrd and his 2006 setback to Evander Holyfield. However, Oquendo, something of a cutie, was never a crowd-pleaser and in none of his narrow defeats was there a public clamor for a rematch.

The cancellation of Charr-Oquendo cuts the World Boxing Association out of a sanctioning fee, but one would think that the WBA honchos are actually rather pleased by this turn of events. The fight, more precisely the WBA’s world title imprimatur, would have brought more unwanted publicity to the Panama-based organization.

ESPN’s Dan Rafael, who has the largest platform of any boxing writer, has been a persistent critic of the organization which once recognized 41 “champions” in 17 weight classes. In 2009, Rafael wrote, “(The WBA) has become such an absolute farce that even somebody like me, who follows boxing closely, sometimes has a hard time keeping track of all the nonsensical so-called world title belts the WBA has been doling out at an alarming rate. It almost reminds me of the ladies at Costco who hand out various samples on a busy Saturday afternoon.”

Rafael took note when WBA president Gilberto Mendoza promised to cull the herd by eliminating “regular” titles, and then became more caustic when Mendoza didn’t follow through. Recently, in one short, punchy diatribe, Rafael blistered the WBA as wretched, vile, and rancid.

Regardless of your opinion, it’s hard not to feel sorry for Fres Oquendo who keeps getting stranded at the altar. No, he’s not fun to watch and a man of his age shouldn’t be taking any more punches, but he has always been an honest workman and by all accounts he’s a very decent man. Born in Puerto Rico but raised in Chicago, Oquendo pitched right in when the island nation of his birth was ravaged by Hurricane Maria. He was personally responsible for relocating Puerto Rican boxing legend Wilfred Benitez and Benitez’s sister, his caregiver, to Chicago where their lives wouldn’t be as hard.

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Bob Arum Hails Terence Crawford (not Lomachenko) as Boxing’s Next Superstar

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Arum says Terence

Top Rank’s Bob Arum says Terence Crawford will become this generation’s Floyd Mayweather or Manny Pacquiao–elite boxers who became worldwide celebrity sensations. Arum, who promoted both Mayweather and Pacquiao on the way to their historic crossover statuses expects big things from the undefeated Crawford over the next few years.

“He’s the best fighter in the United States, and he’s so charismatic,” said Arum. “He comes from middle America, and In the next year or so, he will be huge.”

Arum’s assertion is noteworthy for two reasons. First, Arum is also the promoter for Vasyl Lomachenko. Lomachenko is ranked No. 1 pound-for-pound by The Ring, the Boxing Writers Association of America and the Transnational Boxing Rankings Board. More importantly, Lomachenko seems to have a groundswell of support behind him both in the media and among fight fans.

Lomachenko has also been heavily featured through Top Rank’s television partnership with ESPN. While Crawford has achieved more in his career than Lomachenko (at least in my eyes) and, as noted by Arum, is a homegrown American talent, Lomachenko seems to be considered the more marketable commodity to that network judging by the amount of promotional materials ESPN has pumped out about the fighter over the last year.

The other reason Arum’s claim about Crawford is interesting is the performance of Canelo Alvarez over the weekend in his majority decision rematch win over Gennady Golovkin. Besides Mayweather and Pacquiao, Alvarez is the clear PPV leader among all of boxing’s current commodities, and his status as boxing’s new money fighter should only grow stronger after the best win of his career.

Still, Crawford is one of the few very elite fighters in all of boxing. He’s ranked No. 2 pound-for-pound by The Ring, the Boxing Writers Association of America and the Transnational Boxing Rankings Board.

While Lomachenko and Alvarez are also candidates to become boxing’s next big thing, there’s no doubt Crawford is also one of the few boxers in the sport right now with the right things in place to become the next Mayweather or Pacquiao.

Omaha’s Crawford is in the midst of an historic run. When he stopped Jeff Horn in round 9 at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas in June, Crawford captured a world title in his third different weight class, welterweight. This after Crawford had already captured two lineal boxing championships, as well as multiple alphabet titles, in both the lightweight and junior welterweight divisions.

By any measure, Crawford is truly one of the best boxers in the sport. Not only does he look the part in the ring on fight night (something more and more writers seem to value most when voting for pound-for-pound lists), but the fighter has already accomplished so much in his career that it seems Arum is doing more than the fiduciary duty of promoting his fighter when he ascribes to Crawford such lofty praise.

Crawford, still just 30 years old, is already halfway to matching Mayweather and Pacquiao’s shared record of most lineal championships. Over the course of his career, Mayweather captured lineal championships at junior lightweight, lightweight, welterweight, and junior middleweight. Pacquiao won his as a flyweight, featherweight, junior lightweight, and junior welterweight.

In order for Crawford to grab lineal championship No. 3, most believe he’ll have to go through welterweight phenom Errol Spence. While promotional entanglements might keep this superfight on the shelf for a while, Arum said he had no problem pitting Crawford against Spence in what would be one of the best matchups in recent memory.

“Absolutely,” said Arum when asked about working with Al Haymon’s Premier Boxing Champions, who represents Spence, to make the fight. Could any response from him be more exciting? Crawford vs. Spence might be the next superfight in boxing. Both fighters are among the very elite, and unlike what ultimately happened with Mayweather vs. Pacquiao, who fought each other well past their peak years, both would be in the prime of their careers.

Winning that fight would certainly go a long way to making Arum’s vision of Crawford’s future come true. And who knows? Maybe Crawford really is the next Mayweather or Pacquiao. Heck, for all we know, he could even be on his way to doing something more.

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A Kaleidoscope of Boxers Guaranteed to Provide Action: Past and Present

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Marvelous Marvin

To set the tone for this article, one needs only to watch the way in which Thomas Hearns came out in the first round against Marvelous Marvin Hagler. He was ready to rock and roll as was his fearsome looking opponent. The ensuing unmitigated savagery was the quintessential illustration of full-tilt boogie.

For most boxing fans, the anticipation of an all-out action bout gets the chills running down spines faster than anything else. But not all, as some prefer a tactical or clinical fight that someone like Mikey Garcia can orchestrate and others –but not many—enjoy a defensive gem via a Willie Pep, Nicolino Locche, or Pernell Whitaker. A few love a genuine blood fest that a Gabe Rosado-type can provide, and who doesn’t like seeing something special as in Sugar Ray Leonard, Kostya Tszyu, Terence Crawford or Vasiliy Lomachenko?

Chill-or-be-chilled types like Bob Satterfield and Tommy Morrison were super exciting. In this connection—a certain cadre of warriors, past and present, would come out charging and stalking as soon as the bell rang. Many demonstrated a marked disdain for defense and used a non-stop, no let-up pressure that discouraged their opponents, especially in the late rounds. The anticipation from the crowd was palpable because it sensed some form of destruction was on its way. The cheering would start during the instructions and sometimes did not let up until the concussive end.

This cadre included Rocky Marciano, Tony Ayala, Vicious Victor Galindez, Jeff Fenech, Roberto Duran, and Julio Cesar Chavez (who sapped the spirit of his opponents by ripping away at their mid-section). Also, Carl “The Cat”  Thompson , chill-or-be-chilled Ricardo “Pajarito” Moreno (60-12-1 with 59 KOs),  Ron Lyle, the ultra-violent Edwin Valero, the appropriately nicknamed JulianMr KO” Letterlough, James “The Outlaw” Hughes and his mindboggling ability to snatch victory from certain defeat, Thai stalking monster Khaosai Galaxy (47-1),  the first version of George Foreman (pictured with the aforementioned Lyle), Ji-Hoon “Volcano” Kim, Ruslan  Provodnikov, Orlando “Siri” Salido, Marcos Maidana, Lenny Z, Alfredo “Perro” Angulo, Mike Alvarado, Brandon Rios, and Mickey Roman (the later four are still fighting but past their primes).

Others who presently incite the anticipation of something special include (but are not limited to) Naoya “Monster” Inoue (16-0), Errol “The Truth” Spence Jr (24-0), Srisaket Sor Rungvisai (46-4-1), Alex Saucedo (27-0), and, of course, Gennady “GGG” Golovkin (38-1-1) who now has become slightly more tactical like his nemesis, Canelo Alvarez (50-1-1).

These stand out as representative.

Past

A prime Mike Tyson—and the emphasis is on prime– was the epitome of a boxer who guaranteed action. One simply would not leave his or her seat when “Iron Mike” was doing his highlight reel thing, and his blowout of Michael Spinks punctuated his standing at the top of all-action type fighters, even if the action was usually non-mutual.

Joe Frazier came out smokin’ and would not let up until either he or his opponent were done. For the most part, decisions were not in Joe’s DNA and his left hook was as malicious as a hook can be. With Joe, you just sat back and enjoyed the action. Frazier, wrote boxing historian Tracy Callis,  “was a strong, ‘swarmer’ style boxer who applied great pressure on his opponent and dealt out tremendous punishment with a relentless attack of lefts and rights; His left hook was especially stiff and quick when delivered during his bob-and-weave perpetual attack; he fought three minutes per round and never seemed to tire.”

Carlos “Escopeta” (Shotgun) Monzon (87-3-9) was a powerful and rangy Argentinean killing machine, built like an iron rod. Some said he pushed his punches. Well if he did, he pushed 87 opponents to defeat. He also became only the second man to stop former three-time world champion Emile Griffith, turning the trick in the 14th round. Blessed with great and deceptive stamina and a solid chin, he seemingly was an irresistible force. He was unbeaten over the last 81 bouts of his career, a span of 13 years, and defended his title 14 times. “One would need to write a book in order to do justice to comparing a fighter of Carlos Monzon’s calibre to his fellow all-time greats,” wrote Mike Casey.

Arturo Gatti and Irish Micky Ward were the quintessential action fighters. One is gone amidst controversy, and hopefully the other will not pay a price for his many ring wars. With these two, just count up the Fights-of-the-Year and the rest is history. Suffice it to say that Gatti and Ward will be forever linked in boxing lore.

Until his fateful fight with Nigel Benn (another all-action fighter), Gerald McClellan was absolutely, positively, a stalking monster with dynamite in his gloves. It was ferocity and fury at its highest level and it was something to behold. Sadly, his fight with Benn left him permanently disabled; his story remains a dark stain on boxing. As Ian McNeilly notes, “one man’s finest hour was the end of another man’s life as he knew it.”

Michael “The Great” Katsidis’s all-action style made thrilling fights a lock. The Kat” was willing to take three to deliver one. It was blood and guts to the last drop. Whether he too exacted a heavy price for this style remains to be seen.

Lucia Rijker, AKA “The Dutch Destroyer,” lived up to her moniker and destroyed everyone in her path. Again, it wasn’t “if,” it was “when.”

Christy Martin (49-7-3) put female boxing on the map in the ‘90s and she did it by going undefeated in 36 straight encounters, running roughshod over her opponents as evidenced by her 25 wins by stoppage during this run. She also managed to steal the show from a Mike Tyson main event in 1996 during her memorable and bloody battle with Deirdre Gogarty.

Present

Deontay Wilder, aka “The Bronze Bomber,” has a record of 40-0.  With 39 wins coming by KO—many in spectacular fashion, The “Bomber” brings with him that same sense of anticipation that Tyson did. It’s not if; it’s when and “when” can occur at any time. But unlike Tyson, there is a vulnerability that Luis Ortiz exposed that makes the excitement index go even higher.

Dillian Whyte (24-1) has seldom been in a dull affair. His vulnerability combined with his mode of attack ensures thrilling action and the possibility of a stoppage at any time. Unlike Dereck “Del-Boy” Chisora, Whyte is consistently aggressive and dangerous.

Manny Pacquiao (60-7-2) has slowed down considerably but his recent stoppage win over Lucas Matthysse offers hope that he can still conjure up his exciting whirlwind style of fast in-an-out movements that allowed him to win multiple titles over several future Hall of Fame opponents between 2005 and 2011. A rematch with Floyd Mayweather Jr., if rumors are true, would allow Pac Man an opportunity to accomplish a number of extraordinary things including avenging a prior defeat and ruining Mayweather’s undefeated record. Time will tell.

Though he appears to have shot his wad, a prime Antonio Margarito was the classic stalk, stun, and kill fighter. Heck, he belonged on the Discovery Channel. His two blowouts of Kermit Cintron showed the “Tijuana Tornado” at his most brutal. His come-from-behind demolition of Miguel Cotto stands out for its drama and bloodletting—and subsequent speculative controversy.

David Lemieux (39-4) always brings the heat. His fights seldom end as scheduled. With KO power in both hands and a propensity to rehydrate by 20 pounds, he is the essence of danger and attendant excitement. “With the sheer power he carries, Lemieux will always have a shot at beating any middleweight, and he is almost always involved in good action fights,” says James Slater.

Amanda Serrano (35-1-1) is the only women’s boxer to win world titles in six divisions. The “Real Deal” is unique in that she has a high KO percentage (74 percent) which is rare for female boxers. Amanda is 120 seconds of guaranteed action for each round.

                                                         **********

While Iron Mike Tyson is THE MAN, Matthew Saad Muhammad also warrants special billing as he embodied what this article is all about. Steve Farhood summed up the essence of Saad Muhammad with an observation that would be appropriate for his tombstone: “Eddie Gregory (Mustafa Muhammad) has a better jab, Marvin Johnson wields more power, James Scott does more sit ups. But, Muhammad’s heart is the size of a turnbuckle, and it anchors his title reign.”

Who did I leave out? Whose name or names would you add to this list?

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