Three-time middleweight champion FELIX STURM (35-2-1, 15 KOs), of Germany, makes his 10th defense of his WBA middleweight title against top-rated contender MATTHEW “Mack the Knife” MACKLIN (28-2, 19 KOs), of the UK, This Saturday! June 25. It will be televised Live to the U.S., from the Lanxess Arena in Cologne, Germany, exclusively on EPIX, the multiplatform premium entertainment service. EpixHD.com, will stream the fight live as part of a free two-week trial offer. The live broadcast and the live stream on EPIX and EpixHD.com, respectively, will begin at 5 p.m. ET.
As has become the custom, EPIX will once again present the closed-captioned simulcast of this world championship rumble on a jumbotron in Times Square (Broadway between 44th and 45th Sts.)
The EPIX broadcast team will include eight-time New York Emmy® Award winner and WNBC-TV’s lead sports anchor BRUCE BECK handling the blow-by-blow, former world heavyweight champion LENNOX LEWIS with expert analysis, and ESPN.com senior boxing writer DAN RAFAEL providing his unique views. Former top-rated middleweight contender “Ireland’s” JOHN DUDDY will be at ringside for live post-fight interviews with the combatants. Viewers watching the live stream on EpixHD.com will enjoy round-by-round blogs from Sports Illustrated’s boxing writer CHRIS MANNIX.
PLEASE NOTE: DUE TO SPOTTY TELEPHONE SERVICE IN GERMANY, SOME OF THE RESPONSES FROM MR. STURM AND MR. MACKLIN WERE INAUDIBLE. WE APOLOGIZE FOR THE INCONVENIENCE.
Joining Mr. Sturm and Mr. Macklin on the media conference call was Mark Greenberg, president and CEO of EPIX
Mark Greenberg: This is EPIX second major telecast. We did a small one last month. We had tremendous positive reaction to the first fight that we did, the Klitschko-Solis heavyweight title fight, at which point on our website we had almost 100,000 people entering into our EpixHD.com website and watching the fight live from Germany.
And we were thrilled – despite a couple of technical glitches that went along the way -- but we were thrilled with what happened – with the reaction of what was there. We got some really positive responses online from people who at least had access to a great fight that they would not otherwise have had. We were willing to take a risk of doing a fight in the middle of the afternoon, in the middle of March Madness, basketball here. So we were really pleased.
We also televised the fight live in Times Square on a big Jumbotron. And we had a large audience of people who were watching it in Times Square, and we got some very, very favorable reactions.
It was the beginning of our process. The only person that was really, committed to us on our announce team was Lennox Lewis. Lennox did a great job. We're happy to have him onboard again.
We have subsequently expanded our team. We're really pleased to announce that Bruce Beck will be doing the blow by blow. Bruce has had a stellar career in sports journalism. He's done a number of things over the years, including being a franchise for the NBC New York station here, as its lead sports anchor. Bruce comes along with eight New York Emmy® Awards and a national reputation, and we're thrilled that he'll be working with us.
Dan Rafael, who did some work with us on the last fight, has officially joined the team as an analyst, along with Lennox and Bruce. And then outside the ring and doing some live interviews from Germany, “Ireland’s” John Duddy, who is a former top-rated middleweight contender, which we think will certainly round out what's there.
So we're really pleased on our announce team, but we're mostly pleased with the fact that we'll be doing Sturm versus Macklin. We think it's a brilliant fight for us to be televising. Again, we think that Saturday afternoon timeslot – you know, I grew up watching "Wide World of Sports" and Howard Cosell on Saturday afternoons on ABC -- I think it's a great time slot. We think it'll perform well. And we're thrilled to be part of this event.
We think it's a highly competitive event. Neither of these fighters has lost in five years. They've all reached a high level of their – of the middleweight class, and we're thrilled to be part of it. So we're glad that we could be the exclusive American outlet, and we're looking forward to the fight.
Felix, can you tell us how training camp is going and what you expect this Saturday
night against Mr. Macklin?
Felix Sturm: I think Matthew is a great fighter. He's strong. He's fast, tough. He's a smart guy. I think we all can expect a huge fight, a big fight, an all-action fight.
Matthew, welcome to the call. How's Germany? And how are you feeling as you approach your first world title fight?
Matthew Macklin: In Germany it’s raining – I was expecting better weather, but not to worry. I'm sure I can bring some sunshine on Saturday. Yes, training has gone really well. I'm excited, getting ready for my first world title shot. But, you know, I'm pretty experienced, as well. I've won the European title twice, won the Irish title, the British title, and I've fought some really good opponents along the way. And, yes, I'm just really looking forward to the fight now.
The training camp's gone brilliantly. The biggest fight of my life, you want it to be the best training camp of your life, and it has been. Also, I think the challenge of Felix will bring my game to another level. I'll have to be at my best, but no doubt I will be. And, yes, I'm really confident, really, really looking forward to it. And, yes, Saturday just can't come soon enough now.
Matthew, what concerns you the most in terms of your challenge with Felix?
Matthew Macklin: He's very experienced. He's always finds a way to win. He has a great defense, a very good jab, and I think that they're two things that when I've watched him on tape consistently jumped out at you with his left jab, his left hook, and, you know, also his defense.
He can also (inaudible) when he got hurt against Javier Castillejo in the first fight, he stood toe and toe and showed a lot of heart, also. So, yes, I mean, his jab and his defense are probably two things that first jump out at you.
Obviously, with it being in Germany, people say, you know, you're going to have to knock him out to get a draw. But I'm not really dwelling on that. I'm sure I'll get a fair crack at the whip.
So it's been a little bit of an interesting ride for you. At one point, you were going to fight
Winky Wright on the undercard of one of the Golden Boy shows here in the United
States. Winky pulled out because of an injury. Then you were going to get moved to
fight on an undercard a week later. And then all of a sudden, this opportunity fell in your
lap. So can you sort of take me through the ups and downs of your ever-changing
schedule to culminate here with an opportunity to fight for one of the major world titles?
Matthew Macklin: Yes, of course. I'm one of those fighters – I'm prepared to fight anyone to prove what I believe that I'm capable of. I believe I can go all the way in this division. I think I can be a champion and stay there for quite a while and defend against all the other top guys in the division.
And, you know, the Winky Wright fight I was excited about. I thought it was a perfect name to just sort of launch me in America on a big Pay-Per-View card over there. I was gutted when it fell through, because I really saw that as a big opportunity for me to get my name out there.
But when that kind of fell through it looked that the Khoren Gevor fight was on, which I wasn't – it wasn't as good a fight as the Winky Wright fight, but he had fought Sturm before. He gave Felix Sturm a good fight. He also had a good fight with Arthur Abraham before getting knocked out and he’s a very good fighter in his own right. So it was still a good opponent.
And then we were waiting on the contract to be signed. We went back and forth a little bit. And then slightly out of the blue, the Felix Sturm fight comes up. Why take a tough eliminator when you get a straight shot at the world title, especially when it's one that you truly believe you can win?
You figure it worked out for the best, then?
Matthew Macklin: Yes, I mean, at the time, when you're disappointed and everyone says, "Don't worry, everything happens for a reason," you don't really see it that way, but luckily in this instance, that does seem to be the way it's worked out.
Felix, you're one of the bigger names in the middleweight division. People in the United
States certainly are still aware of you because of the fight that you gave Oscar De La
Hoya several years ago. Many people thought that you were the winner of that fight.
But you have not yet come back to America since then, and there's always been sort of
talk that you would come back here and now especially perhaps against a Sergio
Martinez in the future or something like that. Can you talk about your own aspirations to
eventually bring your game back to the United States from Germany?
Felix Sturm: Well, of course I would like to come back in the U.S. and to fight there at the MGM Grand or Madison Square Garden, but I have to concentrate on Saturday’s fight against Macklin. That is what is most important to me and for my teammates. And I (inaudible) maybe one of (inaudible) my whole career and to come back in the United States. And (inaudible) and (inaudible) my mistake (inaudible) never come back to the U.S. I was always ready to fight the big names (inaudible) it was not my mistake. I was always ready to fight everybody. But (we understand) (inaudible) they (inaudible) and I think we're on the right way (inaudible) (90,000 people in the arena) (inaudible) 90,000 people. And I think we're on the right way.
And when I beat Matthew on Saturday, of course, we are planning to come back to the U.S. to fight (inaudible) everybody worldwide, because he has (inaudible) be the number one (inaudible) Matthew (inaudible) a guy (inaudible) in front of me (inaudible) this will be the next challenge for me (inaudible) and we can talk again (inaudible)
The decision went against you when you fought Oscar De La Hoya, the fact that a lot of
people did think that you had won that fight – has that bothered you enough to
maybe stop you from wanting to come back to the U.S. to fight?
Felix Sturm: No, I'm ready. I'm always ready to come back to the U.S. whole (inaudible) and to also (inaudible) like me (inaudible) from the judges, but I'm not scared to come back there. I'm not scared (inaudible) I think I'm a better fighter than I was seven years ago, and I think now (inaudible) to the fight (inaudible) somebody else (inaudible) fight (inaudible) I think (inaudible) because I'm now (inaudible) middleweight (inaudible) fight the best and I'm still ready to fight the best. I think there's (inaudible) huge fight (inaudible)
Do you think you're a better fighter now than the one that fought De La Hoya those
Felix Sturm: Yes, of course. It was my (inaudible) Oscar De La Hoya (inaudible) also with (inaudible) so much experience. And there was a fight (inaudible) clearly by a knockout (inaudible) learned so much (inaudible) learned my lessons (inaudible) I think I'm a much better fighter than in the past, and, of course, I'm a better fighter (inaudible) great trainer, very, very smart, and he (inaudible) for us (inaudible) so much (inaudible) stronger and better fighter than in the past.
Felix even though people here in the U.S. don't get to watch you much,
you've been very consistent fighting two and three times a year. Do you feel like you're
back in rhythm after you were gone for – I think it was like 12 or 14 months when you
came back to fight Giovanni Lorenzo? You fought Hearns, and now you're
going basically a few months after with Macklin. Do you feel comfortable back in your
rhythm of two, three fights a year?
Felix Sturm: Yes, I feel very comfortable with three fights in a year. I'm a fighter who needs activity who needs to fight every four months. I think having a fight every four months keeps me sharp and (inaudible) and I think for me, it's good (inaudible) because I can (inaudible) and then I can (inaudible) preparation, and I think (inaudible) see a big difference (from the) first to the second fight (inaudible) come better and better (inaudible) and hopefully (inaudible) best performance.
For most of the media that remember you beating Oscar De La Hoya back in 2004, they
remember your jab and your powerful jab is still in your arsenal, but I read some
comment that you made about knowing or watching videos of Matthew and basically
realizing that he does take time off or rest during rounds, and you were planning on
hitting the body. Is that still the plan or – obviously, it's not something you're not willing
to talk about?
Felix Sturm: You know, no (inaudible) best weapon. And I think (inaudible) for this fight, and (inaudible) make some new things (inaudible) I think (inaudible) three or four (inaudible) we both will show, and then after the fourth or fifth round, you will see who has the best game plan.
But I think, of course, my jab and my body shots, those will be the key for the success. And my (inaudible) I'm ready to fight on (inaudible) from the first to the last second and can make (inaudible) and I think this will be the best weapon (inaudible)
But (inaudible) need to see what Matthew will show us (inaudible) we think we all know what will happen (inaudible)
Matthew, you're not only fighting the champion, but you're basically fighting him in his
backyard. You talk about having to get a knockout in order to get the draw, but also the
fans maybe – the fans or the so-called experts (inaudible) see you as a big underdog.
Is that something that you use in your training as an inspiration or something to push
you a little harder, for this Saturday night?
Matthew Macklin: Yes, definitely. I mean, I have always respected Felix – this is his third reign as world champion. Like you say, he's beat some big names in the division. This is my first world title shot, so it's only natural he's going to be the favorite. But I'm twice European champion. I've beaten some good fighters. And to be honest, when I've had the best performances in my career is when I'm been in against the best fighters.
For fighters not at my level I kind of drop my standard to their level, and I've not performed to the best of my abilities. But when I've been up against it or I've (gone in as) an underdog or it's seen as a 50/50 fight, that's when you usually see the best of me. So, I'm looking forward to it. I've trained hard, and it’s all gone well. I feel like that it's been the best camp of my career so far, and I'm looking forward to shocking a lot of people on Saturday night.
Matthew, what was your toughest win in your career so far? And what did you learn
Matthew Macklin: I'm not sure. My last fight was a tough win. I didn't perform well, really. And to be honest, I thought it would be a fight that would be a lot easier. A few things went wrong in preparation. I had a flu, caught the flu eight weeks out, so that shortened the camp down to six weeks straight away. And then I came down with a bit of a chest infection the week of the fight.
I mean, I was OK the weekend of the fight, but I think the effects of it took a bit out of me. I didn't feel strong or powerful as I normally would. I got caught badly over the left eye. I was bruised (inaudible) so kind of – it was hard knowing, you know, in a fight feeling flat as early as the third and fourth round, where I didn't feel like I had much energy, I didn't feel strong, but I had to grip my way through it, I had to be clever in other parts. A few rounds I just had to nick. But, you know, the thing was, I found a way to win not feeling well, so that was a tough win.
Did you learn anything about yourself that way?
Matthew Macklin: Yes, well, I knew – I mean, I beat Ruben Varon who's not a bad fighter, but to beat him when I wasn't in the best of health, it showed me that I'm way (beyond the level) (inaudible) probably didn't look that way, because he gave me a tough fight, so (inaudible) maybe it looked like that's the level I was at, but I know the background situation. So, from that (inaudible) I can feel like that and still win, that's a good sign.
Felix, what was your toughest win? And what did you come away from that?
Felix Sturm: Well, of course, it was the fight against Oscar. And at this point, I was (inaudible) and I think my lesson this evening was (inaudible) but you never know what happens in the ring. And I think (inaudible) title (inaudible) and I would (prepare) (inaudible) and I think Matthew will be in the best shape of his life. And also (inaudible) think you can beat everybody in the world (inaudible) I become world champion (inaudible) I (inaudible) can beat everybody in the world, I'm the best, and I've learned my lessons. I (inaudible) and I go (inaudible) champion.
Matt, you said your best performance has come against the best guys that you fight. Is
that because there's less pressure on you because you're not expected to win them?
Matthew Macklin: I'm not sure if that's the reason. I think it's more a case that you just have nerves before a fight, but the nerves make me perform better. They make me sharper, my reflexes sharper. I react quicker to punches. I counter faster. And I even feel like I punch faster and harder. I think it just affects everything, and it makes me perform to the best of my ability. You can either rise to the occasion or you can drop your standards and sometimes drop to their level. And I think that when I know I have to be on my best, I lift my game.
Matthew Macklin: A couple hundred or few hundred fans are coming out to Germany. I'm not sure if it was 200 or a bit more, but there's a – you know, not so much when you think there are going to be 15,000 to 20,000 people in there, but I'm sure they'll make their presence felt.
Matthew, you know, you've had a lot of different trainers – Buddy McGirt, Billy Graham, Floyd Mayweather, now Joe Gallagher. You know, a lot of people would say that could be sort of a detriment, but at the same time, you can learn a lot. What's been your experience with having so many trainers?
Matthew Macklin: Well, like you said, there are pros and cons. You certainly get a different outlook. For example, Billy Graham tended to train you to be aggressive, to work the body a lot, to throw a lot of hard single punches, to be gung-ho-ish, really.
But on the other side of that, Buddy McGirt was very jab-oriented. Everything has to jab, lots of jabs. And you take a bit from each one. But it's good to be comfortable with the trainer and have faith in your trainer and be comfortable and be happy and familiar in your surroundings. All my best wins from a title point of view have come with Joe Gallagher, who I've been with for nearly three years now, so I'm pretty set up at the moment.
So you're always learning. You always take new ideas from people. But from a fight point of view, my last fights have been with Joe Gallagher and I've won the European title twice with him, and the British middleweight title. I think at the moment I have the best of both worlds.
At the press conference Saturday in Cologne, you said, we're going to see the best in
you because it's a big fight. Have you held back in previous fights? Is that why you
keep saying that, that we're going to see the best we've ever seen because it's a big
Matthew Macklin: No, I've never held back. I've always been professional and trained just as hard for every fight. But I just think sometimes the nerves of the big fight makes you rise to the occasion. You rise to the top of your game, where sometimes, you know, you can try and tell yourself that -- this guy's really good and I'm up against it and I have to perform to my best -- but really, if you look at (inaudible) and you look at (inaudible) you know, I'm going to beat this (guy probably in third gear), and you're trying not to tell yourself that, but, complacency can creep in from a subconscious point of view. It's not something you're trying to allow creep in, but subconsciously it does, and you just drop to their standard, and you don't really perform to the best of your capabilities.
So Felix is going to bring the best out of you. You're kind of a boxer puncher. You're
known for your pressure. You use your jab well. You put your punches together well.
Do you see this being a distance fight? Or do you see it possibly being a knockout?
Matthew Macklin: I mean, who knows? I think I punch hard enough, if I hit Felix clean on the chin in the first round, it could be over. But at the same time, he does have a good chin. He has a very good defense. And so I do see it definitely going into the later part of the fight, but, you know, possibly, you know, over to points. It could be a 12-round fight.
I've trained hard. I'm fit to go bell to bell for 12 rounds. So that's not a problem, anyway.
I think it's going to be a great fight. Whether it's three rounds or 12 rounds, I think Felix throws good punches. He sits in the pocket a lot. Like I said, he likes to put a lot of pressure on. He doesn't really run too much. He kind of stands his ground in the center of the ring, and I'm pretty aggressive. I throw a lot of punches. It could well be fight of the year.
Felix, you're a great technical fighter, hands up, very stiff, great jab. But you said that
you're going to set a pace that you believe that Macklin cannot keep up. Are you going
to be pressuring three minutes out of each round?
Felix Sturm: Yes, of course I’ll be putting on a lot of pressure from the first round. And I think (inaudible) this was always the key for me (inaudible) and I think (inaudible) how much pressure I can make (inaudible) makes him a little bit confused and this makes him a little bit crazy (inaudible) with my left hand (inaudible) my right hand. And I will say, I can make every single round (inaudible) like in the first round, and I think this will be the key for (inaudible) for me.
In the press conference in Cologne back on Saturday you said you expect a great fight
on Saturday night, but you don't believe it will go the distance. Is that why, because
you will put the pressure on him -- you're going to find that opening and knock him out?
Felix Sturm: Yes, hopefully (inaudible) of course (inaudible) when they go (inaudible) will be a close fight (inaudible) decision (inaudible) knockout, because I think this is the best decision for everybody (inaudible) no excuses (inaudible) see a knockout. And we are both good fighters. We can make a lot of pressure. We can fight. We can hit hard (inaudible) I believe we will see (inaudible)
You were able to avenge your other loss against Javier Castillejo. And I know earlier
they asked you about Oscar De La Hoya. Oscar is probably not going to come out of
retirement. If he does, he's not going to seek to fight you. Is there part of you that
regrets not being able to avenge that loss?
Felix Sturm: (inaudible) no. It was for me a dream come true to fight Oscar and to fight in the States in front of so many (inaudible) people and the fight was on HBO. And I think from this point, from this day (inaudible) this (inaudible) give me more (inaudible) because that was seven years ago, (inaudible) fight Oscar, and they are still talking about this fight (inaudible) for me and (inaudible) for the most people worldwide (inaudible) and I think, you know, it's (inaudible) and (everybody want around him knows that) I've beat him and everybody knows (inaudible) decision (inaudible) because there was (inaudible) fight. And this was, (I think, a payday) for both fighters and (inaudible) and this is OK. What happened, happened. And I will not (inaudible) and when I can do it again, I will do it the same way.
So you're comfortable – in your mind, you beat Oscar, you just didn't get it on the
Felix Sturm: Yes, yes, of course. Of course (inaudible) the guys in the U.S. and worldwide (inaudible) but (inaudible) because this fight has made me world famous, first Germany and then worldwide, all from fighting Oscar De La Hoya, who everyone saw me beat.
Your concentration has been on these European fights. And way back when the
Klitschkos were available you were gunning for the Klitschkos. They went with HBO for
various reasons. How disappointed were you to lose that opportunity?
Mark Greenberg: We obviously had discussions. We didn't think at this
point in time it was the fight that we wanted to do. We were
happy to do the Klitschko-Solis fight. We thought it was the right fight
for us to do. That's not saying in the future we wouldn't welcome back
those heavyweight fights, because we are still big fans. I'm sure they
were a little bit more motivated by our participation in the last fight.
That's OK. It's good for the sport. It's good for all of us. Competition
I don't want to say that we're disappointed at all. I think there are lots of great fights. We're thrilled to have the Sturm-Macklin middleweight title fight, because we think it's going to be a very competitive fight and a good one.
Just coincidentally, both fights are happening in Germany at this point in time. I wouldn't say to you that every fight is going to be an international one. It's just sort of where it went. And we'll take it slowly. I don't think we're in a race to say we have to do 10, 15 fights a year. We're going to pick competitive fights that we think are meaningful to the fight fans.
Because your focus has now been swung over to the European scene, but yet your
market, you know, with the film titles of EPIX, is obviously here in the United States.
Why haven't you sought out some competitive matches here in the U.S. with better
known American fighters? And no slight, of course, to Felix Sturm or Matthew Macklin.
it's a great fight. But it's a fight that's really made for the hardcore fans, not for the
casual fans. How come you haven't come back here in the States and sought out
something that's more American?
Mark Greenberg: Well, I don't know. It's been three months since we've done the last fight. I think this is just sort of happenstance that we've gotten here. I mean, we certainly are looking at where the fights can be. Some get presented to us, some don't.
I will say that boxing is probably one of those sports that truly has become a global sport. I would say 15 years ago Americans dominated the sport. I'd hardly say that today. And so I think you have to sit there and say, where is the sport? Where is the best in the class? And I think in this case, boxing has certainly changed its milieu, that it's largely a lot of international fighters from around the world. And look at all the different categories.
We're going to go do the right fights at the right moment, and that's where we've been so far. If we find the right fight that's here in the States, great, we're excited to do it.
I think the sport needs to find competitive fights like this. Just because there's one or two losses on a fighter's card doesn't mean they aren't great fighters. And I think this is a great example of where both Sturm and Macklin have developed themselves as competitive fighters, have taken on challenging fights, and this is a competitive fight.
I don't think it's great for the sport when you have these guys who are undefeated and they haven't had great match-ups, because the matchmakers are making sure their records end up unblemished. And we've seen a lot of unblemished fighters when they get to a competitive fight are not prepared.
So our view in life is, let's take these fighters, look at the ones that are really good fights, and show good match-ups. And when that happens for us, we can find those fights happening here in the United States, great.
But I will say to you, we had over 100,000 people trying to get onto our EpixHD.com website to watch the Klitschko-Solis fight. I don't think they cared that one was Cuban and one was German. I think that it was a matter of people saying that it was a competitive fight and were willing to come watch it.
And I think that's where we as people who are broadcasting and programming need to find things that consumers find to be meaningful. Otherwise, we just become the United States Boxing Association, and that's not exactly what we should be doing if we want to present the most competitive fights that we can find.
Is there anybody in the United States – if you win this fight Saturday -- you'd like to
fight, say, a Sergio Martinez or someone like that?
Felix Sturm: Well, of course (inaudible) for the most (inaudible) I would like to fight Martinez and show that I can beat the best in the world and – of course. I think (inaudible) middleweight for me (inaudible) against Sergio Martinez, but now my focus is on fighting Matthew Macklin, and after this fight, we can talk again about Martinez.
Is it important to you to make more of a name for yourself in the United States? Or are
you satisfied being the best European out there and – how do you feel about that?
Felix Sturm: Of course I'm happy with the situation right now -- one of the top fighters in European boxing and one of the biggest names in Germany. But I would like to come back to the U.S. because I had very good experience fighting in the U.S. against Oscar, and it was a huge, huge fight for me. And I would like to do it again.
I’m always watching what happens in the United States.
Felix Sturm’s greatest attribute is obviously his jab. It's probably one of the best in the
entire sport. How do you deal with that? And are you of the agreement that it is an
Matthew Macklin: Oh, it's an excellent jab, it's an excellent jab, but it's not an awkward jab. He doesn't shoot it down from his hip. It's a pretty orthodox, textbook jab. It's hard. It's fast. He gets a lot of rhythm off it, and he hooks off it well. He goes to the body off it well. And it's constant.
But you can always nullify the jab, especially if you've got a good jab yourself. I think sometimes I've neglected my jab in the past, and other fights I've used it really well. I'm pretty sure I'm going to match him for jabs and head movements. We've worked on a few things, and I've got a good game plan.
Obviously, that'll depend on what he does, but, you know, he fights pretty similar in most of his fights, so we're expecting a tough fight, but one we're very confident o
Sturm, Macklin Talk Upcoming EPIX Middleweight Clash
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