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Rich Thomas, Yahoo! Contributor Network
Jan 25, 2009

Light Heavyweight Legend: Michael Spinks

Michael Spinks was born in St. Louis, Missouri on July 13, 1956. He came from a boxing family, and racked up an amateur record of 93-7 (31KOs). His honors included winning two National Golden Gloves titles (1974 and 1976) and the Gold Medal at the 1976 Montreal Olympics. These were the same games that saw his older brother Leon Spinks and "Sugar" Ray Leonard also win Gold. His nephew Cory Spinks went on to become undisputed world welterweight champion. He turned pro in April 1977, and went on to establish a career that would put him on at least an equal footing with great light heavweights like Billy Conn, Archie Moore, Bob Foster, and Tommy Loughran.

Spinks was 6'2" with a 76" reach. He was a lanky, boxer-puncher with pop in both hands. His straight right, dubbed "The Spinks Jinx" was infamous, but he also threw a devastating left hook and left uppercut.

Living in Interesting Times

The 175lbs division is often cursed with being between the middleweights and the heavyweights, and have often looked boring by comparison. This was not the case in the time of Michael Spinks, for he was blessed to live in interesting times for the light heavyweight division, giving him a handful of serious contenders to test his mettle against. In May 1980 he beat Murray Sutherland, who would later capture a super middleweight world title.

Spinks was still a relative novice - 13-0, 24 years old, a pro for little more than 3 years - when he met 49-10 Yaqui Lopez in Atlantic City. He was a solid contender who had just come out of a losing championship effort with Matthew Saad Muhammad (Lopez would challenge for world titles 4 times in all). Spinks knocked him down and then out in the 7th.

In March 1981, he fought Marvin Johnson, a past and future light heavyweight champ. Spinks stopped his man cold with a beautiful left hook in the 4th. He later said: "I saw the picture-perfect left hook and then I took it. I don't think anybody could [have thrown] a better left hook,. Hey, if he got up from that, then I would have quit." The fight with Johnson earned Spinks a shot at WBA Light Heavyweight Champion Eddie Mustafa Muhammad in July 1981.

29 years old, Muhammad was a world class 175 pounder in his prime. He was making his 3rd defense of his title, held past wins over Matthew Saad Muhammad and Marvin Johnson, and his only recent loss had been a stab at heavyweight and a Split Decision loss to undefeated Renaldo Snipes (who would go on to floor heavyweight champ Larry Holmes the next year). He easily outpointed this dangerous man, took his title, and became a light heavyweight champ at age 25.

Undisputed Champion

In 1982 came a rematch with Murray Sutherland; Spinks improved on his performance and stopped him this time. In all, between 1981 and 1982 he defended his title 5 times with 5 knockouts. Tragically, Spinks's wife was killed in a car crash in January 1983. However, this did not derail his focus or his career: Spinks was an exciting fighter who was heading for a March 1983 showdown with WBC 175lbs champion Dwight Qawi Muhammad.

This Muhammad was a 19-1 buzzsaw who had knocked out Matthew Saad Muhammad twice, and had not lost a fight since the earliest days of his career. He was a confident, aggressive champion in his prime. But the fight was as much a test of Spinks's willpower as of his boxing mettle, of his character as much his body. His wife had been killed only two months before, and in the dressing room his young daughter asked him if she was coming to the fight. Spinks almost broke into tears, but one wonders if the trauma drove him yet harder to make a future for the family he had. Spinks beat Muhammad in a clean points decision, becoming the Undefeated, Undisputed World Light Heavyweight Champion.

Spinks was pretty idle for the remainder of 1983 and all of 1984, defending his crown only twice, as he was on hold for a rematch with Dwight Qawi Muhammad that never materialized. However, that did include a bout with Eddie Davis over the newly created IBF strap, securing his standing as Undisputed Champion. He defended twice more in 1985, and then went on to scale the mountain: challenging the world heavyweight champion.

Spinks vs. Holmes

What Michael Spinks was setting out to do had never been done before. Many times the reigning 175lbs champ had challenged the reigning heavyweight champ, and had lost every time. The closest a light heavyweight had ever come to achieving this feat is when Ezzard Charles, frozen out of the light heavy title, moved up to heavyweight and won that title instead. Even more intimidating is that Spinks was going against 48-0 Larry Holmes , defending his title for the 21st time. Spinks could have gone after the WBA or WBC heavyweight champion and easily picked one of them off (indeed, Roy Jones would take that very route three decades later), but instead he went straight after the man.

They met in September 1985, Holmes outweighing Spinks by a full 20lbs. Yet it was Spinks who came out and attacked Holmes from the opening bell. Holmes worked his jab well for the fight, constantly putting his stick in Spinks's face and causing the smaller man's face to puff up. Still, for once the "golden jab" of the Easton Assassin was not enough: Spinks would get inside, throw a several punch combo, and get out. He ate a few jabs getting in and out, but Holmes was never able to land his big right hand to good effect. The effort was telling on Spinks, who increasingly sat panting in the corner after each Round and startd to slow down. Holmes, sticking the jab, started to in Rounds. By the end, Spinks was down to flurrying at the start and stop of a Round (a classic tactic to impress the judges), and was otherwise being pushed around by big Larry and his jab.

It was Spinks's hardest fight yet, and he barely won it: 143-142 twice, with only the third card putting him way ahead at 145-142. Still, he had done it: Spinks had defeated the Undefeated World Heavyweight Champion and scaled the mountain, the first light heavyweight to ever accomplish such a feat. In a footnote, this also made Michael and Leon Spinks the first set of brothers to become world heavyweight champions (the Klitschkos would later do the same). t was The Ring's 1985 Upset of the Year.

Spinks and Holmes had a rematch in April 1986, with Holmes improving on his performance and in the eyes of many observers, he won the fight. Unfortunately for Holmes, he didn't avenge himself as only one of three judges saw it that way. Instead of suffering his first defeat and losing the IBF Heavyweight Title, Spinks won a Split Decision over the unpopular Holmes.

Demolished

Spinks only defended his title once more. He declined to defend it against the #1 contender, gigantic Tony "TNT" Tucker , preferring instead to take a big payday with Gerry Cooney instead. The IBF stripped him of his title. He beat Cooney by knockout. That led to the Waterloo of Michael Spinks: "Iron" Mike Tyson .

Spinks was only 31 years old and still undefeated, but the Mike Tyson he fought was at the peak of his powers and would have been a match for any heavyweight in history that night. Tyson destroyed Spinks in 90 seconds. Spinks, rather than continue to campaign as a heavyweight, decided to hang up the gloves.

Legacy

Spink retired with a 31-1 (21KOs) record, but that is deceptively modest given the scale of his accomplishments. He went 11-0 as a light heavyweight champion, reigning as Undisputed Champ and standing as the only 175lbs champion to never suffer a loss while still in that division. He went on to become the only light heavyweight champ to beat the heavyweight champ, and not taking the easy route that Roy Jones later did. On the basis of these two accomplishments alone, Spinks is arguably the greatest 175 pounder of all-time.

Sources:Sports Illustrated; YouTube; ESPN Classic Sports; boxrec.com

http://voices.yahoo.com/light-heavyweight-legend-michael-spinks-2491065.html?cat=19
 

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Michael Spinks Interview - From Olympic Boxing Champ to Rocking the Pro Scene!
By Ken Hissner (May 27, 2010) Doghouse Boxing

Michael Spinks was the 1976 Olympic champ on possibly the greatest Olympic team the USA has ever produced. Spinks would go on to win both the light heavyweight and heavyweight championships in the pro ranks. He will always be known as the first light heavyweight champion to win the heavyweight title and the man who stopped Larry Holmes win streak at 48! His brother Leon was also an Olympic champ on the same 1976 team. He would also go on to defeat a legend in Muhammad Ali for the world title. Together they were known as the Spinks Jinx!

Spinks amateur record was 93-7, winning National Golden Glove titles in 1974 and 1976, topping it off winning the Gold medal at the 1976 Olympics in his100th fight.

Spinks got a bye in the first round of the Olympics in Montreal.

In the second round he fought Ryszard Pasiewicz (POL). "He was pretty rugged you know, squared off shoulders. I had a tough time with him, for a minute. Than I figured him out, then I kinda put it to him. In the second round a right sent him flying," said Spinks.

"Despite drawing a bye in the third round we continued to train. Coach Sarge Johnson and Pat Nappi made sure we got our running in. I tried to get away without running one day and Sarge took me to the window and showed me the top of a mountain and said see yourself on the top. I had to run anyway," said Spinks.

Spinks would get his third "pass" winning in the semi-final by walk over. "In the gold medal round I meet Rufat Riskiev (Russia) who I lost to several months earlier. He was the reigning world champ. He was tough. It was the first time I was knocked down as an amateur, over in Russia. Oh man, I couldn't believe he was there. I went down and did ten push-ups. He outhustled me in Russia," said Spinks. "I was going to keep punching until I got him out of there (I was just seeking to make the team). At that time in my life I was seeking better opportunities. I figured when I came home I cold get a better job than I had) Riuskiev was trying to say I hit him below the belt but the referee saw everything. I hit him with a good body shot and he quit in the corner. He beat me in Russia and I beat him in Montreal," said Spinks.

Pertaining to the aftermath in Montreal, Spinks was in another world. "I don't even know if I was there. I was just elated and happy. I was just glad that I beat him back. I always wanted to win with my brother Leon. Once he learned how to fight he got over that fear after his first bout and was knocking everybody out in St. Louis. I paid a good price for that. I got beat by gang's and different people whose friends Leon beat. They would ask me are you Leon's brother? Then slap me on the face. They taught me well, by beating me up and I learned how to fight.

Pertaining to turning pro Spinks like teammates Ray Leonard and Chuck Walker was not planning on turning professional. I didn't want to turn pro right away. I didn't think I would make it as a pro. Maybe the Lord meant for me to do this and cash in on the gold medal. It stands alone for me. It was the beginning and of course I had my brother Leon with me," said Spinks.

Here are some thoughts on Spinks by his teammates. "Michael was laid back," said Davey Armstrong, 2-time Olympian. "Michael Spinks was a leader type," said Leo Randolph. Himself a Gold medalist and former WBA Super bantamweight champion. That was two different views of Spinks, from two boxers from the greater northwest. "Michael was very quiet but a good friend. We both had to lose weight for the trials and would run together," said Charles Mooney. He was a Silver medalist and only member not to turn pro making the Army a career. "Michael Spinks was quiet. Kept to himself," said Howard Davis. He was a Gold medalist and winner of Val Barker award. "Michael Spinks was very quiet," said Louis Curtis. Former 1975 AAU champion and Pan Am Games Bronze medalist Chuck Walker had this to say about Spinks. "We were friends, but we never had occasion to hang together while lot. We weren't as tight as with some of the rest of the guys. With Michael at 165 and me at 156 we would spar together. As far as the sparring, it was pretty much nip and tuck and it was as rugged as it could be. I was kind of the flashy one and he was the nuts and bolts guy and we had some spirited sessions."

Spinks turned pro in 1977 and in his 2nd fight defeated Luis Rodriguez who would later become Larry Holmes public relation man. The fight was in his hometown of St. Louis. In his 12th fight he defeated Murray Sutherland, 18-3, future IBF super middleweight champ in 1980 by a decision in 10. Sutherland was the first tough man champion to ever win a world title.

Two fights later he was put in with then unbeaten Yaqui Lopez, 10-0, who was everyone's nightmare. He was able to stop him in the 7th round. He would stop Marvin Johnson, 27-4, who had lost his WBA light heavyweight title the year before. Next up in 1981 was his title fight with Eddie Mustafa Muhammad, 38-5-1, who had defeated Johnson for his title. He was a very good boxer. After winning the title he defeated Vonzell Johnson, 22-2, in his 1st title defense.

In 1983 he faced the WBC champion, Dwight "The Camden Buzzsaw" Qawi Muhammad (Braxton), 19-1-1, in a unification bout. He was very short but very tough. Spinks won a decision 9-6. In 1984 he added the IBF title to his WBA and WBC titles defeating Eddie Davis. In 1985 he challenged heavyweight champion Larry Holmes, 48-0, who was about to tie Rocky Marciano's 49-0 record that still stands to this day. Instead of Holmes giving Spinks credit for his win he "blamed" Marciano saying "Marciano couldn't wear my jock strap"! First of all who would want to wear it? Maybe Holmes should have worn it a little higher, like over his mouth. This writer had Spinks winning 8-7 in rounds.

The rematch in 1986 with Holmes was even closer with Spinks retaining the title. It ended in a split decision. This writer had Holmes winning 9-6 in rounds. In 1987 he fought big Gerry Cooney, 28-1, whom he stopped in 5. It was close for 4 rounds before referee Frank Cappuccino stopped the fight. "I waited 2 ½ years for this fight to happen. Living the life I was at the time I wasn't the fighter I once was. I stopped drinking after that fight," said Cooney. One year prior to the Spinks fight was Cooney's last fight. It was the only fight he had in 2 ½ years prior to meeting Spinks. The judges all had different scores making it even after 4 rounds. Spinks landed over a dozen punches finally dropping Cooney whose right eye was closing. He would beat the count but it was just a matter of time in the 5th and final round.

In Spinks final fight it was one he would probably like to forget, though it was probably his biggest pay day. His record was 31-0 and Mike Tyson's was 34-0. It was over in 1:31 of the 1st round. Spinks looked defeated during his entrance to the ring. Talking to the referee of that fight, Frank Cappuccino, he disagreed with me on the entrance. "Michael always had the same look when he came in the ring. I may have done half a dozen of his fights. He tried to mix it with Tyson and went down from a punch to the liver. Tyson was like Joe Louis. He only needed six inches to take you out. When Michael got up he got hit again and went down. His eyes rolled to the back of his head and I knew he was done," said Cappuccino. Spinks was mixing it up as best he could instead of boxing Tyson. He was hit with a left uppercut followed by a right to the body and down he went. He beat the count and as Tyson came toward him, Spinks threw a weak right hand that fell short while Tyson's right hand was on the button dropping Spinks a second time. Trying to get to his feet, Spinks fell face forward through the ropes. It would mark his first defeat and first time being knocked off his feet as a professional. It would be the last time Spinks would fight. It was June of 1988, one month before his 32nd birthday.

Today Spinks lives in Delaware along with his manager Butch Lewis. Bernard Hopkins is also a resident of that area. Spinks is not the out going person his brother Leon is. He is more laid back. In October of 2007 he was introduced into the ring at the Legendary Blue Horizon in Philadelphia. He seemed quite at home in the ring waving and talking to the fans.

It was November of 2008 I gave Spinks a three ring binder with stories on eight of his 1976 teammates I had written. I had questions printed out for him and my phone number. I tried prior to this going through his manager Butch Lewis at his office and residence with no avail. By stepping up into the heavyweight division financially it was a boost to his income. By leaving the light heavyweight division, he was certainly shortened his career.

The Spinks brothers are like night and day. The one time I met Leon in New York he had that big smile and I had to hug the guy. Michael on the other hand is laid back and not as outgoing. One thing for sure the Spink Jinx rocked the boxing world the night Michael Spinks upset Larry "The Easton Assassin" Holmes.

http://www.doghouseboxing.com/Ken/Hissner052710.htm
 

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really cool stuff thanks


spinks has got to be in the top 3 to 7 fighters of the eighties if he had pushed Tyson hard a top 3 position and if he had managed to shock Tyson then I would imagine a shoe in for top spot
 

· The Bobsledinator
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in terms of ability and effectiveness, (h2h basically) I have him up there with anyone at 175 in the history of the division and a contender for the top spot in that regard along with Ezzard Charles, Sam Langford, Billy Conn and Roy Jones jr,
 

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in terms of ability and effectiveness, (h2h basically) I have him up there with anyone at 175 in the history of the division and a contender for the top spot in that regard along with Ezzard Charles, Sam Langford, Billy Conn and Roy Jones jr,
Interesting. I don't go in for comparison's of different fighter's from different era's anymore as there are too many variable's to take into account.

Spinks for me had a odd style similar (don't particularly mean style wise) to Carlos Monzon. What I mean by that is their styles look easy to fight against but it's different when you actually get in the ring. Had experience myself in gyms of this quirk of nature. He was a very good fighter though, no question about that!
 

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roy jones a force h2h at lhw? what a trash... he was a great super mw.. at lhw he was too fragile to beat guys like foster, langford, spinks or charles..
 

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in terms of ability and effectiveness, (h2h basically) I have him up there with anyone at 175 in the history of the division and a contender for the top spot in that regard along with Ezzard Charles, Sam Langford, Billy Conn and Roy Jones jr,
Call me crazy, but Harold Johnson would've decisioned him clearly. You think he would beat guys like Foster, Pastrano, and Moore? Idk about that.
 

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Call me crazy, but Harold Johnson would've decisioned him clearly. You think he would beat guys like Foster, Pastrano, and Moore? Idk about that.
I think Harold Johnson is possibly in technical terms the best pure boxer in the history of the decision. It is true that Johnson mixed in with and defeated better fighters at the weight than did Spinks, however you can also take from the evidence that Johnson was more beatable than Spinks was. I think rather than just looking at a a piece of paper and reading off who they each beat or lost to, the best thing is to analyze the styles of the fighters and draw a conclusion on that basis. Both Johnson and Spinks were clearly ATG light-heavyweights so I think it's blatantly wrong to exclude either from being able to win the bout based on not being in his opponent's league.

On that note, I think Johnson would have a chance at beating Spinks, because of the fact that Spinks was very much about rhythm. His rhythm was unconventional and you don't want to allow him to get going, because he will start to measure you and unload with his heavy right hands. You would want to use lateral movement to not allow Spinks to do this, to offset him. If you go right into Spinks to back him up, you may have some success but because of his strange movement and ability to turn a man you can suddenly be the one up against the ropes getting pounded dangerously. Johnson was such a great boxer that he very well could box with Spinks, but I don't think Johnson is going to do enough offsetting with lateral movement, he would rather use less footwork in centre ring and establish his jab. I see Spinks weaving and maneuvring himself into a position wherein at some point he stops Johnson, probably with a right cross. He will possibly be behind on points when this happens. That's just my opinion.

On Moore, yes I favour Spinks over him. I think Moore was a lot more beatable than mainstream history likes to remember. He was utterly and brilliantly crafty at his finest, but the finest were able to beat him, I rate Spinks as being one of the finest at 175. I don't see Moore sparking Spinks out, I have no evidence to base a claim that Spinks is stopped at 175 on. It has never happened. On Foster, I see it as being closer, I really wouldn't like to say. Both were undeniably formidable at the weight. Maybe I side with Foster, the jab sticking Spinks so often, breaking up that great rhythm, and Foster is not wading in with false hope only to get sparked. He would rather land massive slugging shots and then be back at distance pumping out his jab. Pastrano too has a good chance because of the great movement on the outside, offsetting Spinks, I think Spinks would match him there though and I wouldn't like to hazard a guess at who would come out on top. I'd probably say Spinks.

How do you rate Spinks at 175 then?
 

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@Teeto good post you articulated your points well I guess I rate Spinks very highly among the top 10 in the LHW division. I just think guys like Foster, Charles, Greb, Conn, Moore, and Johnson deserve to be favored over him. I would have liked to see Spinks beat Matthew Saad Muhammad because I think he had the ability to get the job done. There are a few points I would like to capitalize on:

-You say Spinks has never been sparked out at 175. Good point, but I fail to see why this is relevant. First off, Spinks did not fight any punchers at the caliber of Foster or Moore at 175. Lopez, Qawi, Davis, Johnson,, and Eddie Mustafa Muhammad were among Spinks' best wins at the weight. His LHW resume is a little bit thin tbh.

-I don't see Spinks stopping Johnson by any means, Johnson has been stopped before but that is more of a reflection of how often fighters fought back then rather than Johnson's durability. Johnson's jab would offset any kind of advantage Spinks might have and he would outbox him to a clear decision.

-Moore wasn't really that "beatable" until he moved on to the heavyweight division, he did get beat but he also racked up a very deep resume, something that Spinks is lacking imo. Spinks would not walk through Moore by any means, look at the Durelle fight for proof. Moore having alot of losses is the product of his time, he fought so often that it was bound to happen.

-On Foster & Pastrano: I see Foster measuring Spinks with his long, hard left jab and connecting eventually with a left hook that would hurt Spinks and possibly stop him. Pastrano would give Spinks a tough fight. I might ultimately pick Spinks to win that, it's the most winnable of the 4 fights mentioned.
 

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@Teeto good post you articulated your points well I guess I rate Spinks very highly among the top 10 in the LHW division. I just think guys like Foster, Charles, Greb, Conn, Moore, and Johnson deserve to be favored over him. I would have liked to see Spinks beat Matthew Saad Muhammad because I think he had the ability to get the job done. There are a few points I would like to capitalize on:

-You say Spinks has never been sparked out at 175. Good point, but I fail to see why this is relevant. First off, Spinks did not fight any punchers at the caliber of Foster or Moore at 175. Lopez, Qawi, Davis, Johnson,, and Eddie Mustafa Muhammad were among Spinks' best wins at the weight. His LHW resume is a little bit thin tbh.

-I don't see Spinks stopping Johnson by any means, Johnson has been stopped before but that is more of a reflection of how often fighters fought back then rather than Johnson's durability. Johnson's jab would offset any kind of advantage Spinks might have and he would outbox him to a clear decision.

-Moore wasn't really that "beatable" until he moved on to the heavyweight division, he did get beat but he also racked up a very deep resume, something that Spinks is lacking imo. Spinks would not walk through Moore by any means, look at the Durelle fight for proof. Moore having alot of losses is the product of his time, he fought so often that it was bound to happen.

-On Foster & Pastrano: I see Foster measuring Spinks with his long, hard left jab and connecting eventually with a left hook that would hurt Spinks and possibly stop him. Pastrano would give Spinks a tough fight. I might ultimately pick Spinks to win that, it's the most winnable of the 4 fights mentioned.
good post my man

I'll just reply to your individual points one by one-

- I think it's relevant that he was never KO'd at 175 because while it's true that he never faced punchers of the caliber of Moore and Foster, there is no evidence to base a claim on that he would be stopped by them. I can only go off evidence when it comes to being stopped I have none on Spinks at 175. I think his resume is very good personally, he was clearly the best of the era in my opinion and the era wasn't poor or even just average.

- I disagree that Johnson being stoppable was definitely a result of how fighters fought at the time. I can't conclude with confidence that that is true. What I can conclude with confidence is that Johnson can be stopped. I see you said it's not a reflection of Johnson's durability, well I'm not saying he wasn't durable, I think he was durable, but he could be stopped and I think Spinks would stop him. I disagree that Johnson's jab would offset everything Spinks has to offer, as I've already said. I think a lot o lateral movement would be more suited to the task as opposed to standing and establishing the jab in centre ring and putting a lot of reliance on defense.

- Moore was beatable, especially by the finest, and that's where I rate Spinks in terms of ability, which is what counts here, as this isn't a resume or greatness debate, it's about a hypothetical match-up. Sure, Moore having a lot of losses is a by-product of his era, but it doesn't change the fact that he was beatable by the best fighters, which is why think Spinks could do it as well. Spinks doesn't have the same amount of top level wins in his era as Moore did, he didn't fight the same amount of times as him, but he did emerge as the clear cut number one of his era in his own right, and his record was flawless at the weight. Nothing else can be asked of him. Again I don't see how it's too relevant as a head to head match-up concerns analysis of footage and technical strengths/weaknesses more so than looking at the names on the records. This is because I rate both men in the top tier of the division in terms of ability.

- I can't really disagree with your last point

you make good points and put your arguments across well regardless of me respectfully disagreeing on some issues :good
 
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I really don't see the argument for Foster over Spinks, to be honest. Without even citing their respective jumps up to the heavyweight division, Spinks competed and ruled in an era which was substantially better than Foster's. For a guy as highly touted as he is, I find Foster's record incredibly underwhelming once you look past Dick Tiger.
 
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