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The Importance of December 10th 2016 for Kickboxing

  • Published in Kickboxing

In kickboxing we have always had a connection to this weekend. Yearly, the drama has always been around who will win the K-1 WGP, which usually went down in in Japan around this time every year. Will an all time great add on to their resume or will a deserving star finally get the white belt. This Glory Germany event just so happen to fall on the exact weekend that we would enjoy the K-1 Mega heavyweight tournament. As I explored this day in the sport further, I was pleasantly surprised to see that Hari/Rico along with a few other narratives added to making December 10th 2016 one of the most important days in the history of Kickboxing. Here is my list of six reason the day was more special than you realize. 

6. French kickboxing

When you think of great French Kickboxers, the list is actually short. You first go to Jerome Lebanner. The heavyweight K-1 Star was awesome and he delivered some of the great kickboxing KOs of all time. Cyril Abidi had some K-1 victories and the Samir Mohammed streak also come to mind. Yet Samir was in international waist high and up kickboxing, which wasn't as popular. Many would say Lebanner if asked about French kickboxing and maybe no one else. Outside of him, most don't think kickboxing, they think Muay Thai. Farid Villaume, Kamel Jamel, Dany Bill, and Chokdee star Dida Diafat are a few of the heroes that pop out at us. 

Enter Nasser Kacem. His gym Nasser-K in Lyon has produced some high level Muay Thai fighters. Fabio Pinca, Yohan Lidon, and Karim and Houcine Bennoui to name a few. However, after years of success in the art of 8 limbs, they started to get calls for kickboxing events. K-1, Shootboxing, Enfusion, Glory, the French team was in high demand. Due to bad match ups and working out the rules, there has been some bumps in the road to being successful kickboxers. Dylan Salvador lost to Makihira Keita due to repeateldy catching the low kick and firing and Karim lost to Hirotaka Urabe in Japan due to a cut as example of loses in big time kickboxing promotions that didn't allow their skill to be showcased. Yet December 10th showed that not just Nasser K, but the French may have figured the game out. Fabio Pinca won a clear decision over aggressive Moroccan/Dutch fighter Mosab Amrani, who has the style and volume to get up on kickboxing cards. Fabio was up to the task with effective offense and slick movement to limit the scores. He took a clear decision. Dylan Salvador was a late addition to the card, but he beat tournament favorite Anotoly Moiseev and Hynsi Beqiri to take his first major kickboxing promotion tournament win. It wasn't just the Nasser K team. Female fighter Amel Dehby made it to the Glory women's title match and Cedric Doumbe(more on him later) won the 77kgs Title from long time champ Nieky Holzken. It was truly a great day in kickboxing for France, who has some of the best promoters in the world and they sell out shows on a regular basis. These promoters can develop and showcase the elite stars of France for years to come. 

5. They old guard still has it. 

I knew that Giorgio Petrosyan would be headlining the Bellator/Oktagon Kickboxing card. I knew that Badr Hari was of course fighting on the Glory card. I had no idea that Buakaw was fighting. I watched him fight solid journeyman fighter Andre Kulebin on auto pilot for a kickboxing promotion in Lebanon of all places. He beat Kulebin with very little effort and when Kulebin attempted to turn up the pace, the far superior Buakaw just swept him or caught him with a counter kick, easy work for Buakaw who also has a victory over Dylan Salvador this year. Badr Hari may have injured himself, but before it he showed great poise and clean kickboxing. Giorgio Petrosyan, fighting at home, once again put on a memorable performance by stopping the very talented Jordan Watson. KO pop in both hands (when he doesn't break them), he found his right hook early and closed the show. At one period of time these men were considered the best in their weight classes on the planet and Giorgio may still be the best. All three men are in their 30s.

4. The Women Emerge

Overall it was a failed tournament. There was very few exciting moments or memorable fights. Best female fighter in the world Anissa Mekson was excluded from the tournament and Iman Barlow's Enfusion contract was in conflict with the Glory schedule so she was out too. Add a few injuries and the Glory tournament was not great. But the moment they announced Tiffany van Soest as the winner, her celebration and tears made you forget it all. The crowd was not very moved during her fight, but the moment she began to talk about accomplishing a dream, white belt larger than her torso, the crowd found applause. Adding to this night, Denise Kielholtz avenged a loss that she shouldn't have had to Gloria Peritore. It can be tough to bounce back when he cards wrongfully go the other way, but Denise beat Gloria in her back yard to win the inaugural 125 Bellator kickboxing championship in Florence Italy. Women's kickboxing was almost non existent in televised form. Yet the emergence of female success in the UFC has opened the door for kickboxing to showcase athletes that otherwise wouldn't have the opportunity. It was great seeing both of these ladies wearing titles and I am excited to see what the future holds. 

3. Cedric Doumbe 

I predicted that Cedric Doumbe would beat Yoann Kongolo in his Glory debut. I thought he had the tools and the charisma to be a future star in the sport. He came up short that night, but did not let it stop him. He won 14 of 15 fights in the last year and a half and the one loss was a robbery to Fang Bian. In that list includes a win over Murthel Groenhart, who fought with emotion and looked for the KO, while Cedric intelligently played the points game. Cedric looked to antagonize again, witty tea shirts and trash talk lead up to this bout. Nieky Holzken walked him down and looked for power punching opportunities. Doumbe again played smart, combinations to kicks and movement gave him a clear decision and made him the Glory Welterweight Champion. Holzken wasn't just champion, he was the Glory brand's most celebrated star and he has also produced the most memorable results in the past three years. Cedric beat the biggest somebody in the sport. Cedric has all the tools and he is an active champ, fighting for Glory or whoever. His natural charisma and ability to sell himself means that kickboxing once again has a young star to carry it into the future. Cedric is only 24 years old

2. The Long Card

Glory has stayed with a TV model of 4 or 5 fights on the undercard, and 5 fights on the televised US card. Yet in the history of kickboxing, co-promoting has created some mega cards. I watched Errol Zimmerman win the K-1 European GP and was blessed to see that Its Showtime attached a card that had Holzken vs Mes, Giorgio Petrosyan and much more on that day in Amsterdam. This Glory card had 14 fights and two tournaments in it. I do not think that they are ready to commit to a PPV model, but I do think they will add to their ticket sales if they are giving such a wealth of product for the price. 

1. Hari vs Rico

Lets exclude how it finished. Glory has been unlucky with several of their final fights. Injuries, bad stoppages, and even having an athlete quit in frustration with ref interference. Now that that has been acknowledged, lets move on to the great. Glory 36 put together a great card that ended with an injury victory for Rico Verhoeven over Badr Hari. Until the injury, it was what we hoped for and then some. The preflight in itself was almost worth the PPV.  Badr Hari, coming to the ring with his mob and personal Dutch rap song blaring, created a buzz and tension that literally had my heart racing. I knew I was about to watch something special. Adding to the moment, Badr gets into the ring, and whether it was mental game or fan fair, a crowd of people approached the ropes and yelled just outside the ring. Security had to calm the supporters down, while several cornermen attempted to help by directing the audience back to their seat. The announcer made several attempts to pacify the crowd before the fight started. It was of no good. The crowd was crazy until the end and even started a few fights of their own. This was all before the fight. The kickboxing action was fast and technical, making a great fight by both guys until the injury stopped it. 

I have never experienced buzz for a fight like this. It was the best kickboxer against the biggest star in the sport. Badr, who many in the US do not even know, proved that he is still a big deal in Europe and his followers will travel to support him with their voices and their fists if it comes down to it. The usually K-1 Buzz was special, but we haven't had one in years. Since Glory has had title fights instead of tournaments, the buzz was more about the consistency of the fight cards than the fights. Last year bringing major kickboxing back to Amsterdam was the big win. This year it was putting together the "I'll believe it when I see it" fight. Injury aside, it was a fantastic moment for the sport and it brought back the special feeling we are use to having in this sport, on this weekend. 

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Dylan Salvador Replaces Davit Kiria Plus Updated GLORY 36/Collision Cards

  • Published in Glory

With weeks to go before December 10th, former GLORY Lightweight Champion Davit Kiria's return to the GLORY ring will be delayed, it seems. It was announced today that Kiria will be pulling out of the GLORY 36 Lightweight Tournament, being replaced by an exciting new challenger being thrust into the mix in Dylan Salvador. Salvador has made a name for himself in China, including a win over current Lightweight Champion Sitthichai. That means that Salvador will be clashing against Anatoly Moiseev, who is celebrating a recent victory over Josh Jauncey.

GLORY 36 Germany

Lightweight World Title Bout: Sittichai (c) vs. Marat Grigorian

Lightweight Tournament Final Bout: Semifinal A Winner vs. Semifinal B Winner

Featherweight Co-Headline Bout: Mosab Amrani vs. Fabio Pinca

Lightweight Tournament Semifinal B: Yodkhunpon Sitmonchai vs. Hysni Beqiri

Lightweight Tournament Semifinal A: Dylan Salvador vs. Anatoly Moiseev

GLORY 36 SuperFight Series

Light Heavyweight Headline Bout: Danyo Ilunga vs. Michael Duut

Welterweight Co-Headline Bout: Harut Grigorian vs. Danijel Solaja

Super Bantamweight Grand Prix Semifinal B: Tiffany van Soest vs. Jessica Gladstone

Super Bantamweight Grand Prix Semifinal A: Isis Verbeek vs. Amel Dehby

Lightweight Bout: Andrej Bruhl vs. Tyjani Beztati

GLORY: COLLISION

Heavyweight Headline Bout: Rico Verhoeven vs. Badr Hari

Welterweight World Title Bout: Nieky Holzken (c) vs. Cedric Doumbé

Heavyweight Bout: Ismael Londt vs. Jamal Ben Saddik

Super Bantamweight Grand Prix Final Bout: Semifinal A Winner vs. Semifinal B Winner

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Rico Verhoeven vs. Ismael Lazaar Headlining GLORY 41 SuperFight Series

  • Published in Glory

Hot on the heels of a series of announcements, GLORY has announced that Rico Verhoeven will square off against former Enfusion Heavyweight Champion Ismael Lazaar to headline the GLORY 41 SuperFight Series in Den Bosch, The Netherlands. This makes the SuperFight Series packed full of stars and action, considering Robin van Roosmalen vs. Petchpanomrung Kiatmookao for the Featherweight title is on the same card.

This will be a five-round, non-title super fight between the two big men, with Lazaar coming off of a rather successful run in Enfusion that included holding their world title before losing it to Jahfarr Wilnis. Also announced is Murthel Groenhart vs. Harut Grigorian in a bout that the entire Welterweight division will be watching very carefully.

GLORY 41 SuperFight Series

Heavyweight Superfight Headline Bout: Rico Verhoeven vs. Ismael Lazaar

Featherweight World Title Bout: Robin van Roosmalen vs. Petchpanomrung Kiatmookao

Welterweight Bout: Murthel Groenhart vs. Harut Grigorian

Light Heavyweight Bout: Michael Duut vs. Mourad Bouzidi

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On Dream Fights; or, How Braddock Could Turn the Dream Into a Nightmare

  • Published in Glory

In the sport of kickboxing there aren’t many dream fights left. Masato has retired, Buakaw has moved on to whatever promotion pays for his exclusivity to operate outside of the bounds of actual divisions, and the heavyweight greats that made K-1 and heavyweight kickboxing the spectacle that it is today have mostly sailed off into the sunset. While there can be arguments for batons being passed to a new generation, the lesser, more fractured platforms and the sudden retirements of fighters like Sem Schilt has put a damper on the division. That’s why this last dream fight between Rico Verhoeven and Badr Hari matters so much, yet at GLORY 33 it is put in question.

Newer stars either never materialized or burnt out. Daniel Ghita became a Romanian politician after disappointing losses to Rico Verhoeven, Badr Hari was primed to take the sport to the next level and refused to control his temper, Alistair Overeem chased his dream of UFC gold and guys like Tyrone Spong saw a future in boxing that kickboxing could never give them. Top fighters like Robin van Roosmalen and Rico Verhoeven are even seeing possible futures for themselves in MMA, with both having sights set on the UFC. 

Through all of this, Rico Verhoeven arose, coming from a background of being a solid heavyweight, but young and unseasoned. He looked like he would be the next Hesdy Gerges; a top guy who came close, but never quite put it all together to become what he could be. Yet, he persevered. Something changed inside of him when he fought Semmy Schilt. Schilt was a monolith in the kickboxing world, an unstoppable beast of a man, a legend, yet Rico stood with him, took his shots and survived. The fighter that emerged from that fight was changed and since then we’ve seen Rico Verhoeven climb the ladder, rung-by-rung and represent kickboxing unlike anyone else in a modern age.

Rico has plowed through the division and while there are fights to make, there aren’t huge money fights to make, or are there? When the idea of a fight against Badr Hari emerged it seemed ridiculous.

Badr Hari is perhaps the exact opposite of Verhoeven. Verhoeven had a quiet start to his career, while Badr Hari was the “Golden Boy” almost from the start. He was pegged for greatness, but he had a temper and at times lost it in the ring. That meant getting knocked out when he shouldn’t have and it also meant losing fights that he was winning because of getting frustrated and attacking downed opponents. His opponents in the ring and innocent backstage placards weren’t his only victims, eventually it spilled over into the public and Badr Hari became a guy better known for snatching headlines for his legal problems than fights. Eventually the only people that would pay his rates to fight were warlords and wealthy Middle-Eastern men who perhaps thought they had struck gold by getting access to Hari, only for things to get weird.

While Hari has curated his career, Verhoeven has fought anyone that GLORY has thrown at him and done so as a professional. Rico does the media, he’s affable and does what he needs to do. Not only that, but he’s sparred with top MMA guys and dabbled in MMA himself, making him a bigger media target. 

So the very idea of them fighting seemed not only odd, but like the strangest mishmash ever. Yet, this is exactly who is left in kickboxing with star power. Badr Hari represents the latter days of K-1’s prominence, while Rico represents the GLORY era. Badr Hari was never K-1 World GP Champion, but that was mostly his fault, it was there for the taking and he pissed it away. 

Yet, there, in the shadows, stands Anderson “Braddock” Silva, the unlikely challenger to Verhoeven at GLORY 33 and the potential spoiler. Fans are excited to see Badr Hari fighting a top level guy again, thankful that he hasn’t had legal issues yet and that the fight has an actual date and venue, yet, if Rico Verhoeven loses, does the fight still have value?

The risk seems almost unfathomable. Who would take such a bold risk heading into the biggest money fight left in the sport of kickboxing? Those in power are perhaps viewing Braddock as a guy that will put up a fight, but has no chance of beating Verhoeven. Or maybe they see that Braddock has a chance and simply don’t care? This is a sport, after all, and fighters lose. Let the sport sort itself out. 

The allure of Badr Hari fighting in GLORY alone will move tickets, but those tickets don’t go on sale until the week after Braddock vs. Rico. While I wouldn’t call Rico Verheoven foolish, the idea of him fighting in Kunlun Fight against a relatively unknown Andrei Gerasimchuk and getting manhandled while his wife was in labor with their daughter and Rico was in no headspace to fight is still fresh in my memory. That was the night that GLORY’s unstoppable champion got hurt by a guy who went on to do pretty well, but not great afterwards. It’s also the fight that GLORY refuses to acknowledge because they know how it looks. 

Yet, here we are, Rico Verhoeven heading into the biggest fight of his career and Anderson “Braddock” Silva is being treated like a truck stop on the way to his destination. Rico will get some highlights and hype heading into the fight with Badr, no sweat. Except for the fact that the lead up to this has been all about Rico’s fight with Badr Hari. Nobody wants to talk about Braddock. Braddock who worked hard to get here, Braddock who has lost bullshit decisions and perhaps hurt himself by not turning up the heat when he needs to, Braddock who gets passed over for his shot time and time again. Yet here it is, here is Braddock Silva’s shot.

So while Rico Verhoeven is the king of kickboxing, moving on to face an invading warlord and thwart him back into the history books, one guy is realizing his career dream and he’s not gonna go down without a fight. 

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GLORY Heavyweight Champion Rico Verhoeven Returns at GLORY 41

  • Published in Glory

GLORY announced this afternoon that kickboxing royalty will once again be seen within the GLORY ring at GLORY 41. Heavyweight Champion Rico Verhoeven will make his return to the ring at GLORY 41 on May 20th against an unnamed opponent. There are a wealth of contenders thanks to the continual GLORY heavyweight contender's tournaments, which means it could be just about any of the top heavyweights in the promotion come May 20th. 

Verhoeven was last seen in the ring in December when he squared off with Badr Hari in a bout that left many wanting, with both looking forward to a rematch. The only problem is that Badr Hari returned to prison on Monday and will serve seven months, making a return this year unlikely.

GLORY 41 Holland

Heavyweight Headline Bout: Rico Verhoeven (c) vs. TBA

Heavyweight Tournament Final Bout: Winner of Bout A vs. Winner of Bout B

Heavyweight Tournament Semifinal Bout B: TBA vs. TBA

Heavyweight Tournament Semifinal Bout A: TBA vs. TBA

GLORY 41 SuperFight Series

Featherweight World Title Bout: Robin van Roosmalen vs. Petchpanomrung Kiatmookao

Light Heavyweight Bout: Michael Duut vs. Mourad Bouzidi

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LiverKick 2016 Awards: Event of the Year - GLORY Collision

  • Published in Glory

When it came to deciding which of the many events that happened in 2016 was the event of the year it wasn't an easy decision. What metrics do you weigh this by? Attendance? Hype? Quality on paper? How exciting the show was? In a lot of ways, there wasn't one show that embodied all of these things, or even a majority of them. Unlike in the past where a K-1 World Grand Prix show would easily be the event of the year, now kickboxing is fractured and spread across the world. China is putting on shows that millions of people are watching, each show an epic, day-long affair. K-1 Japan is putting on some of the most exciting shows in the world and KNOCK OUT burst onto the scene with a KO-heavy first event.

Yet, which event actually did the most for the sport of kickboxing? That answer was simple; GLORY Collision. The sold out event in Germany was a triple-header, featuring title fights, tournaments and the dream bout between Rico Verhoeven and Badr Hari. While the question can be asked if the event actually delivered the action promised, the reality was that it was a full arena, it had fans across the world interested in kickboxing and there was a big fight feel for the first time in a very long time. How GLORY is able to capitalize on that is up to them, but it has people in Europe reconsidering kickboxing as a big sport again and had more eyes than kickboxing has had in quite a while. 

 

The 2016 LiverKick Awards

For more, listen to our year-end podcast.

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Hesdy Gerges vs. Chi Lewis-Parry Headlining GLORY 41

  • Published in Glory

GLORY announced the finalized (well, as final as they can be) fight card for GLORY 41 Den Bosch today. The GLORY 41 SuperFight Series has somehow gotten even better with one of the most exciting fighters in the featherweight division, Zakaria Zouggary, making his way to GLORY to fight Anvar Boynazarov. The SFS card, which is capped off by Robin van Roosmalen vs. Petchpanomrung for the Featherweight Championship and Rico Verhoeven against Ismael Lazaar is perhaps one of the best GLORY shows on paper in a very long time.

GLORY 41 proper is a bit more subdued, featuring another heavyweight contender's tournament, this time with some fresh names. Anderson "Braddock" Silva will have another chance at redemption against Giannis Stoforidis while Xavier Vigney returns to fight D'Angelo Marshall. There is a featherweight bout between Chenglong Zhang and Wilson Sanches Mendes and a headliner (well, co-headliner) of the recently-cancelled bout between Hesdy Gerges and Chi Lewis-Parry.

GLORY 41 Holland

Heavyweight Tournament Final Bout: Winner of Bout A vs. Winner of Bout B

Heavyweight Co-Headline Bout: Hesdy Gerges vs. Chi Lewis-Parry

Featherweight Bout: Chenglong Zhang vs. Wilson Sanches Mendes

Heavyweight Tournament Semifinal Bout B: Anderson Silva vs. Giannis Stoforidis

Heavyweight Tournament Semifinal Bout A: Xavier Vigney vs. D’Angelo Marshall

GLORY 41 SuperFight Series

Heavyweight Superfight Headline Bout: Rico Verhoeven vs. Ismael Lazaar

Featherweight World Title Bout: Robin van Roosmalen vs. Petchpanomrung Kiatmookao

Welterweight Bout: Murthel Groenhart vs. Harut Grigorian

Light Heavyweight Bout: Michael Duut vs. Mourad Bouzidi

Lightweight Bout: Tyjani Beztati vs. TBA

Featherweight Bout: Zakaria Zouggary vs. Anvar Boynazarov

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Badr Hari Wants Rico Verhoeven Rematch in May or June

  • Published in Glory

The fight that many believed would never happen between Badr Hari and Rico Verhoeven did happen, but the ending was perhaps bittersweet and exactly the kind of letdown that fans have grown accustomed to when it comes to the sport of kickboxing under-delivering on big promises. So while the fight was put together, the fighters ready to brawl and the arena packed full of passionate fans, the outcome was Badr Hari forfeiting thanks to an injury. 

Rico Verhoeven immediately offered Badr a rematch in the ring, to which Badr Hari replied in amiable fashion to, although still denigrating his opponent. The scorecards reflected that the judges had Badr Hari winning the first round, but the fight was far from over, especially considering a strike from Verhoeven is ultimately what injured Hari and forced the stoppage. For fans a conclusion to this fight is not only desirable, but almost a necessity. In an interview with John O'Regan, Hari claimed that he was looking to plan for a rematch in May or June, although he still didn't seem to respect his opponent.

“That's why it was so sour that I had to stop. But be honest, did you see me worrying, or in trouble? Like I said in the ring [after the fight], he became a man but he needs to be more to beat me. He is still not in my league.”

Hari's punching power and explosiveness are legendary, as are his temper both in and out of the ring. Legal issues have kept him away from the ring during what could have been the prime of his career and still haunt him to this day, everything from where he can actually get a license to fight to working around court dates and the uncertainty of the future. 

A rematch seems in order as long as both men are up for it and the asking prices don't fly through the roof. Right now the sport needs the rematch, if not to clear up the debate of who is the better fighter, to deliver on a promise and help build up the reputation of the sport once again.

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Never Underestimate Anderson 'Braddock' Silva

  • Published in Glory

When you ask kickboxing fans about the fight that they are most excited for the answer is almost inevitable; Badr Hari making his GLORY debut against reigning GLORY Heavyweight Champion Rico Verhoeven. It's the biggest kickboxing fight at heavyweight since the fall of FEG's K-1 back in 2010, a battle between the man who was primed to become the king of the heavyweight division and the man who actually became that top fighter.

Yet, at GLORY 33 New Jersey Rico Verhoeven takes possibly the biggest gamble that he's taken in his professional career, months out from the biggest fight of his life and of GLORY's tenure thus far. At GLORY 33 Rico Verhoeven will defend the GLORY Heavyweight Championship against Anderson "Braddock" Silva. Silva, who has been fighting at heavyweight for years, proving himself to be a name and a guy who has always been knocking at the door of the top ten or traversing it without finding his way to the top. His shot comes with question marks attached, like where is Ismael Londt, the man who earned a shot against Verhoeven? Braddock perhaps deserved a shot a while ago, but now there are contenders for Verhoeven.

To many, the conclusion has been that Braddock is simply a "warm up" fight. The last time that someone viewed Braddock as merely a speed bump was Remy Bonjasky, who was looking to prove that his career was not over yet, only for Braddock to push the pace and pick up the victory over the K-1 legend.

In the same vein, at GLORY 16 Denver Braddock was facing off against Sergei Kharitonov, a man that had a bigger contract with GLORY thanks to his previous accomplishments only for Braddock to soundly defeat him. While Braddock may not have ever held those big, impressive championships, Braddock has been a spoiler within the division, the guy that serves as the gatekeeper to becoming elite, or the man who would defeat would-be contenders and send them back to the end of the line. 

He's a dangerous fight for any heavyweight, especially for someone like Rico Verhoeven, who when proven to be distracted in the past has lost a fight that many thought he'd handily win.

Plus, let's never forget one of the best heavyweight head kick knock outs in kickboxing history courtesy of Braddock. 

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