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Articles of 2010

Borges Looks Back, And Forward With Hope

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As the end of another year approaches, there’s no need to invoke Charles Dickens to describe what went on in boxing. It was neither the best of times nor the worst of times. It was just too much time spent on The Fight That Never Took Place.

For the second straight year the sport could not deliver The Fight, the only one fans universally wanted and even casual fans craved – the mix between Floyd Mayweather, Jr. vs. Manny Pacquiao.  No one has to be singled out for blame for that failure because this time there’s plenty to go around on both sides. The larger issue is what does it say about a sport when it cannot deliver its top event?

What would the NFL be without the Super Bowl? Where would major league baseball be without the World Series? Golf without the Masters? College basketball without March Madness?

They would all be less than they could be and so it was with boxing this year. Having said that, the sport was not without its signature moments. It was not bereft of nights that left those of us with an abiding (and often unrequited) love for prize fighting with good reason to hope for the future.

Three times promoter Bob Arum took the sport into massive stadium venues just like the good (very) old days and each time boxing drew a far larger crowd than its many critics expected. Twice those fights involved the sport’s leading ambassador, Pacquiao, who brought in crowds of 40,000 to 50,000 fans into Cowboys Stadium against inferior opponents Joshua Clottey and Antonio Margarito. Imagine what he might have done had Mayweather been in the opposite corner?

While both fights were, as expected, lopsided affairs, they showcased the one boxer who has transcended his sport’s confining walls to become a cultural icon and world celebrity. Pacquiao alone put boxing (or at least one boxer) on the cover of TIME and into the pages of such varied publications as Esquire, GQ, The Wall Street Journal, the American Airlines in-flight magazine and even Atlantic Monthly.

As history has proven time and again, that is what happens when boxing has a compelling personality to sell it and Pacquiao is that. Mayweather is such a person as well,  but for different reasons.

The one night he appeared in a boxing ring, he set the year’s pay-per-view standard against Shane Mosley while also leaving a first hint of dark mystery when he was staggered by two stinging right hands in the second round.

Mayweather was momentarily in trouble for the first time in his career but the moment passed quickly and Mosley never had another. By the end he had been made to look old and futile, a faded athlete who’d had his chance and was unable to do anything with it. So it goes in this harsh sport when the sands are running out of the hour glass.

As always there were some surprising upsets, most notably Jason Litzau’s domination of an uninterested and out of shape Celestino Caballero and Sergio Martinez’s one-punch demolishment of Paul Williams. The latter was not so much an upset as it was a stunning reminder that when someone makes a mistake against a highly skilled opponent in this sport they don’t end up embarrassed. They end up unconscious.

SHOWTIME did all it could to further the future of the sport, offering up a continuation of its interminably long but still bold Super Six super middleweight tournament as well as the launching of a short form bantamweight tournament which already gave fans to two stirring and surprising finishes with Joseph Agbeko decisioning Jhonny Perez and Abner Mares upsetting Victor Darchinyan in a battle of contusions.

While the Super Six has had its problems – including several of the original six pulling out – it also lifted the profile of former Olympic gold medalist Andre Ward from nearly unknown to the cusp of universal recognized as the best super middleweight in the world this side of Lucian Bute. If Ward continues winning he’ll get to Bute soon enough because that’s why SHOWTIME signed a TV deal with the Canadian and America may get its next boxing star if Ward proves to be what I think he is – which is still underrated and underappreciated.

HBO and HBO pay-per-view put on 23 shows, few of them compelling and many of them paying big money to the wrong people while doing little or nothing to grow the sport that has helped make their network rich. But they did have the knockout of the year – Martinez’s second round destruction of Williams – and some fights in the lower weight classes that were left you wanting more.

Two new names popped up who are causing the kind of fan reaction that also gives us hope for 2011 – American Brandon Rios and Mexican Saul Alvarez. They are two of the sport’s brightest young prospects because each comes to the arena the old-fashioned way – carrying nothing but bad intentions.
Aggression and knockouts still sell boxing faster than anything else and each exhibited plenty of both this year and left fans wanting to see more. Alvarez is already a star in Mexico without having yet won a world title and Rios is the definition of “promise.’’ Whether the star will continue to shine and promise will be fulfilled may be answered next year and so we wait anxiously to find out.

Backed by Golden Boy Promotions, there is no reason 2011 shouldn’t be Alvarez’s year and if it is people will notice and remember him because he has a crowd-pleasing style that is all about what sells most.

That is what boxing needs more of – fresh faces and new stars… so as fans we should root for guys like Alvarez, Ward, Rios and young Brit Amir Khan, who is a star in England but still a question mark with a questionable chin but a fighter’s heart here in the U.S.

Those guys and others not yet as well known are the future of boxing, a sport that for too long has been recycling the likes of Mosley (as it will again in May for one last beating against Pacquiao in a fight that's a joke), Bernard Hopkins (who can still fight although it is unclear why he bothers or where it’s all headed), Roy Jones and, sadly, even 48-year-old Evander Holyfield, who continues to delude himself but not many other people into believing he will soon unify the heavyweight title again.
If fighters like Ward, Alvarez, Rios, Khan, WBC welterweight champion Andre Berto and middleweight king Sergio Martinez continue their rise they could be the antidote for the art of the retread that Arum and Golden Boy have been forcing fans to buy the past few years at the expense of what boxing needs most – fresh faces.

The heavyweight division, which many believe determines the relevancy of boxing to the larger world, remains a vast desert of disinterest here in the US. The Klitschko brothers, Vitali and Wladimir, hold 75 per cent of the title belts but few peoples’ imaginations in the US, although to be fair they are European superstars and don’t really need U.S. cable TV money to thrive economically.

Each defended their titles twice this year, Vitali against lame competition (Albert Sosnowski and Shannon Briggs) and Wladimir against better fighters (Sam Peter and Eddie Chambers) but not competitive ones. Sadly, there is no American on the horizon to challenge them, a comment on the division and on our country, where the athletes who used to be Joe Louis or Muhammad Ali now opt for the easier and frankly safer road of the NFL or the NBA. Who can blame them considering all the nonsense a fighter has to go through to just make a living these days?

The one heavyweight match that would be compelling and might lift the sport up for at least a night would be either of the Klitschkos facing lippy WBA champion David Haye. The fast-talking Brit claims to not be ducking them but he’s had more maladies befall him after shouting from the rooftops how much he wants to challenge them that you have to wonder if Haye is simply a case of big hat no cattle syndrome.

For the sake of the sport, we should all be lighting candles each night in hopes our prayers will be answered and Haye will finally agree to meet one of them. It may not prove to be much of a fight but at least it will give us something to talk about for a few months.

Whatever Haye and the Klitschkos decide the fighter with the most upside at the moment however seems to be Sergio Martinez.  He has matinee idol looks, a big enough punch to put Paul Williams to sleep with one shot and a work ethic second to none. The Argentine fighter had a year for himself, starting with a drubbing of Kelly Pavlik followed by his demolishment of Williams. Those kinds of victories, coupled with his Oscar De La Hoya-like looks, are the type of things that if HBO or SHOWTIME would get behind him could allow Martinez to capture the attention of both fight fans and more casual ones.

In general, Hispanics fighters continued to dominate much of the sport’s front pages with Juan Manuel Marquez’s two victories in lightweight title fights leading that storyline. His war with Michael Katsidis is a strong candidate for Fight of the Year and his technical skill and calm demeanor make him the uncrowned challenger to Pacquiao. The two have unfinished business that should be settled this year if Arum stops standing in the way.

Two other fighters who gave us moments to remember in 2010 were Juan Manuel Lopez, who knocked out three solid opponents including highly respected Mexican warrior Rafael Marquez, and Giovani Segura, who won four times (that’s three years work for Mayweather) in 2010, all by knockout. Along the way, Segura defeated one of the great minimum weight fighters in history, slick Ivan Calderon, to win the belt on Aug. 28.

Lastly, boxing gave us another magical cinematic moment as well with the release of “The Fighter,’’ a film based on the life and hard times of junior welterweight scrapper Micky Ward. The film has won rave reviews and many awards and seems likely to have several of its actors nominated for Academy Awards, most notable Christian Bale for his sadly humorous portrayal of Ward’s troubled half brother, former fighter Dickie Ecklund.

Boxing has a long history of providing the framework for memorable movies and it did it again with “The Fighter,’’ a film that did more for boxing than any promoter did all year.

All in all, it wasn’t the best of years for boxing but it was a good year that picked up speed in the final months and, like that great golf shot you finally hit out of the rough on the 18th, left us with reasons to hope for a better year in 2011. If somehow it gives us Mayweather-Pacquiao, the emergence of Alvarez and Rios, the ascension of Martinez and Haye vs. the best available Klitschko in addition to the kind of solid performances that always come along, it could be a year to remember.

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Articles of 2010

Judah To Fight Mbuza March 5 In NJ

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Totowa, NJ – Kathy Duva, Main Events CEO, announced their promotional firm won the purse bid held at IBF headquarters in East Orange, NJ, Thursday. The bid was for the right to hold the IBF's junior welterweight title fight between Zab Judah of Brooklyn, NY and Las Vegas, and South Africa's Kaizer Mabuza.

IBF Championships Chairman, Lindsay Tucker explained, “It is a 50-50 split of the earnings between the two fighters. Kaizer is ranked No. 1 by the IBF, and Judah is No. 2. Where the fight will be held is up to the winning bidder.”

Judah (39-6, 26 KOs) is promoted by Main Events and his own firm Super Judah Promotions, and Branco Milenkovic, of South Africa, promotes Mabuza (23-6-3, 14 KOs).

Kathy Duva confirmed the fight will take place at Prudential Center in Newark, NJ, late February or early March this year as part of Main Events' Brick City Boxing Series.  (Saturday Update: the fight is March 5th, in NJ at the Pru Center. The bout will be part of a PPV card.)

“We are very happy that Zab has the opportunity to fight for the IBF Junior Welterweight title right here in New Jersey.  Winning this fight will put Zab right in the mix with the winner of Bradley-Alexander and Amir Khan.” Duva elaborated, ” Zab will work very hard to win this fight so that he will be one step closer to his ultimate goal of unifying all of the Junior Welterweight titles by the end of 2011!”

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Articles of 2010

UFC 125 Preview: Frankie Edgar Vs. Gray Maynard

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Few predicted Frankie Edgar would grab the UFC lightweight championship last year but he did. Most felt he would eventually win it but Edgar not only took the title, he beat one of the best mixed martial artists in history to do it.

Edgar (13-1) has emerged from the milieu of nondescript MMA fighters to become one of the more brilliant performers for Ultimate Fighting Championship. Next comes a rematch with Gray “The Bully” Maynard (11-0) tomorrow at the MGM Grand Casino in Las Vegas. UFC 125 will be televised on pay-per-view.

All it took was not one, but two victories over BJ Penn.

If you’re not familiar with Penn, he’s one of the most versatile fighters in MMA history and had been nearly unbeatable in the 155-pound lightweight division. That is until he clashed with Edgar. Until he met New Jersey’s Edgar, the Hawaiian fighter chopped down lightweight opponents with ease. It was only the heavier welterweights he had problems against. Namely: Canada’s Georges St. Pierre.

Edgar showed poise, speed and grit in defeating Penn in back-to-back fights. The world took notice.

“You know, if I keep winning fights, the respect will come eventually,” said Edgar during a conference call.

Now Edgar will find out if he can avenge the only loss on his record.

“I just think I grew as a fighter. You know, mentally, you know, physically I, you know, possess differently skills, increased – you know, I think I boxed and got better, my Jiu-Jitsu got better and, you know, just have much more experience now,” Edgar says.

Maynard seeks to find out if Edgar has added any more fighting tools to his repertoire. Back in April 2008, the artillery shelled out was not enough to beat the Las Vegas fighter.

“It’s a perfect time. He had the chance and, you know, he took it and the time is now for me and I’m prepared,” said Maynard (11-0). “Any time you’re going up against the top in the world, you evolve and change and so I’m prepared for a new fight, so it will be good. I’m pumped for it.”

Though Maynard’s record indicates he is unbeaten that’s not entirely true. He did suffer a defeat to Nate Diaz during The Ultimate Fighter series and subsequently avenged that loss last January.

The UFC lightweight title is in Maynard’s bull’s eye.

“Looking to take the belt for sure,” said Maynard. “We’ll see on January 1.”

Edgar versus Maynard should be a good one.

Other bouts:

Nate Diaz (13-5) faces Dong Hyun Kim (13-0-1) in another welterweight tussle. Diaz is the only fighter with a win over Maynard. Anyone watching TUF remembers Maynard tapping out from a Diaz guillotine choke. The Modesto fighter has a tough fight against South Korea’s Kim.

Chris Leben (21-6) fights Brian Stann (9-3) in a middleweight fight. Leben is a veteran of MMA and if an opponent is not ready for a rough and tumble fight, well, that fighter is not going to win. Stann dropped down from light heavyweight and we’ll see if the cut in weight benefits the Marine.

Brandon Vera (11-5) meets Thiago Silva (14-2) in a light heavyweight match up. Vera is trying to rally back to the promising fighter he was tabbed several years back. Silva is a very tough customer and eager to crash the elite. A victory by either fighter could mean a ticket to the big time.

Clay Guida (27-8) versus Takanori Gomi (32-6) in a lightweight bout. Guida has become one of the most feared fighters without a title. No one has an easy time with the long-haired fighter. Gomi lost to Kenny Florian but knocked out Tyson Griffin. Can he survive Guida?

Marcus “The Irish Hand Grenade” Davis (22-8) clashes with Jeremy Stephens (18-6) in another lightweight fight. Davis is a go-for-broke kind of fighter and is looking to get back in the win column after a tumultuous battle with Nate Diaz last August. Stephens needs a win too. In his last bout he lost to Melvin Guillard.

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“Stitch” Duran: This Cut Man Gets Priority Position

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As a young boy, humble and hardworking, work was repetitive for Jacob Duran. Picking cotton, picking peaches, picking tomatoes, in the heart of the summer dry heat of the central valley in California was not exactly the ideal life of the typical teenager boy. But it was all that Duran knew growing up in a family of farmers. His parents, cousins, and uncles all worked that farmland in the outskirts of the San Joaquin Valley. They worked with all types of produce. Basically, if you ate it, they picked it.

Therefore, for Duran, who now gores by “Stitch,” going to Air Force was a signal of ambition. And what he learned in Thailand turned out to be symbolic of his future.

Today, Duran is one of the most respected cut men in the fight business. He has worked with many of the greatest boxers in the game including current champions the Klitschko brothers,  and Andre Ward. But he is also well known for creating the blueprint for the regulatory measures of treatment on cuts in the UFC; he uses the same system in boxing, and tries to implement his theories throughout the sport.

Like most other cut men, Duran did not receive a PHD in anatomy or kinesiology to earn his stripes and work a corner. He learned his trade from experience, traveling to Himalayan lands to gain his wisdom. Although Duran is now a master of stopping the bleeding, he is still a proud student of the game.

After graduating high school, Duran attempted to pursue a childhood dream of becoming a baseball player. But he could not afford to go to college, so in 1972, Duran joined the Air Force. In 1974, Duran was stationed in Thailand, and he used his time aboard to pursue a childhood passion.

“I always told myself as I got out of the valley growing up that I wanted to study the martial arts. My first encounter with martial arts was at a Muay Thai fight in Thailand. I saw some guy get knocked out with a kick to the head and I thought, man that is what I want to do,” Duran said. “So the following Monday I went to the base recreations, over there they usually taught Tae Kwan Do. But the Koreans had already left. So they converted us into Muay Thai. That whole year I ate and slept martial arts.”

After practicing the Muay Thai style of fighting for the first time, Stitch felt like he had some studying to do. He wanted to know the roots of the fight game in and out.

“I really did not know the chemistry of fighting. You know, I grew up in a small town. So, it just was not in our DNA to be in the fight game. I always wanted to study to be a martial artist and I wanted to go to Korea because I knew that was where Tae Kwan Do was at. That was the sport that was pretty hot at that point. But they sent me to Thailand. And not knowing the difference, I began to train and learn Muay Thai.”

After learning Muay Thai, Duran fought in karate tournaments in Thailand and won them all. When he returned to the states, while still in the military, Duran had an itch to continue his training and test himself against other martial artists. He began fighting in karate tournaments in South Dakota and had an immaculate record. What was Duran’s trick? He was practicing Muay Thai while his opponents were using karate.

Duran said that he had some awesome kicks. One of his opponents during a fight actually came up to him and said that he was kicking too hard.

But he thought that he was never built to be a fighter. He moved back to northern California after leaving the Air Force and got a normal-type career job working for a micro company with all the health benefits and a company car.

However Duran, the supposed corporate prodigy, only worked about five hours a day. Although he did not envision himself to be a great fighter, the game was still in his blood.

“Number one, I was a martial artist. I was very good at what I did. But one thing that I lacked was my skills in boxing. When I saw Charles King opening up this gym (King’s Gym, in Oakland, Ca) I would go visit him because my accounts for the micro company were in downtown Oakland. So I would always be driving from account to account and go stop by and talk to Charles before he opened the gym.”

Once King’s Gym finally opened, Duran was the first person to sign up. He joined King’s to better his boxing ability and be a complete martial artist. He wanted to combine his boxing with kickboxing, better his hands to complement his legs, elbows, and knees.  

There at King’s, Stitch began working with amateur boxers and learning the game of boxing. It was his first foray into the business aspect of fighting as well. Duran worked with the first Golden Gloves champions that came out of King’s Gym. He also promoted the first amateur boxing event at the Henry J. Kaiser Auditorium in Oakland, Ca.

Then, Duran moved to Fairfield, Ca to open up his own school of kickboxing called the American School of Kickboxing. At ASK, Duran practically did it all.

“At ASK, I trained fighters, promoted fighters, managed fighters, I did the marketing, and I worked cuts. I liked being a cut man. So my wife, the kids, and I packed it up and moved to Vegas. Then the UFC came around, and I am working with both now, boxing and MMA.”

Now, Jacob “Stitch” Duran goes all over the world to be a cut man in both boxing and the UFC. Many of his clients are international fighters from the likes of Russia, Australia, Ireland, Germany, and Canada. It is a far cry from picking cotton with his family in the farmlands of California. “I always look back,” Duran said. “Being Chicano, and growing up in the San Joaquin Valley. But here I am. Now I go to Germany every two or three months.”

In boxing, Stitch’s reputation as an excellent cut man travels well. He is hired by individual fighters that have either seen, or heard of his stellar patch work. But Duran’s responsibilities with the UFC are more complicated.
In the UFC Duran is a company man, he is not employed by the fighters like he is in boxing. When Duran met Dana White, the owner of the Ultimate Fighting Championship, they were both struggling trainers trying to make a living in Las Vegas. Once White became the owner of the Ultimate Fighting Championship, he approached Duran at a K-1 kickboxing event at the Bellagio with an offer to join Leon Tabbs, another well respected cut man, as the only two cut men in the company.

Before Duran came around, Tabbs was the one and only cut man that worked with the UFC since its inception in 1991. There are now a total of four cut men with the UFC including Tabbs and Duran.

UFC fighters are not required to have the UFC employed cut men work their corner. But since it is a fairly new business, Duran says that most of the fighters willingly accept his help. According to Duran, about ninety nine percent of the fighters at a UFC event use the services of a UFC employed cut man. About eighty percent of the fighters ask the UFC cut men to wrap their hands before bouts.

The art of tending to a cut is done differently in all combat sports by different cut men that have their own theories. Duran thinks that fighters and trainers in the UFC are willing to accept new methods. Whereas some boxing trainers come from the old school, a culture that emphasizes on learning the ropes from the hard knocks of yesteryear. In boxing, Duran says that it is hard to teach old dogs new tricks.

The most recent and clearest example of the revolution of working cuts in the UFC as opposed to boxing was evident in Manny Pacquiao’s fight against Antonio Margarito last month. Pacquiao made Margarito’s face look like a cyclone by the middle rounds and Duran says that there are methods to help prevent such madness.  

“The techniques we use in the UFC are the best. It’s funny, when Margarito fought Pacquiao, I got about four calls from people asking me about why this particular cut man was doing what he was doing. You know, I have studied the game of being a cut man. I mean, I have produced a video and I have probably worked thousands of cuts to this point now. So I know the game. These guys in boxing do not want to be taught. And they don’t really want to teach either. As a matter of fact when I was learning, I remember going to the James Bonecrusher Smith vs. Marvis Frazier fight. This one particular cut man was doing an excellent job. After the fight, I asked him about some of his practices, and his application, and he cussed me out and told me that he is going to take it to his grave. He made me feel horrible. In the same token, that mentality still has not changed in boxing.”

The approach to handling cuts is only a portion of Duran’s frustrations with boxing. He feels like some of the cut men in the sport have not changed with the times. Cleanliness is of concern. According to Duran, cut men that do not wear gloves or put swabs in their mouths, or on their ears, are using techniques that should have been improved as the game progressed. But they are still done constantly.  

Then there is the enswell.  

“You see guys applying the enswell incorrectly all of the time,” Duran said. “What they try to do is rub the mouse out of the way. But what you are doing is moving that blood clot to the side, to tissue that is not damaged, which is creating a greater problem. The proper technique is to apply cold direct pressure. And the process behind that is to close up the blood vessels that are leaking. You get swelling when blood vessels pop up underneath the skin and they are not going anywhere. So when you get hit, they keep swelling and swelling.”

For us less educated folks, Duran spoke of the famous “cut me Mick” scene in Rocky one when a vision-impaired Balboa asks his trainer to cut open his closed eye so he could see.

Duran says, “In theory, you don’t normally do that. But when there is an accumulation of blood, you could cut it, and you would see blood leak. But the proper way of preventing damage and stopping blood from flowing is to apply cold direct pressure. These guys don’t do that. They just beat the hell out of the guys’ cheek or eye brow. You’ll notice it next time you see a fight.”

Duran saw another example of bad cut management on Michael Katsidis, during the Marquez vs. Katsidis fight on November 27th. The brawling Katsidis has a well known history of acquiring bad cuts throughout his career. It is safe to argue that some of those cuts have prevented him from fighting at top form. Duran watched that fight closely and unfortunately witnessed plenty of mistakes by Katsidis’ cut man, particularly with the way he was using the swab.

Katisidis’ long time cut man is Nonito Donaire Sr. the father of bantamweight champion Nonito Donaire Jr. Duran explained that when a fighter is bleeding from the nose, most cut men use a nasal solution called adrenalin chloride 1:1000. When Donaire Sr. was applying the solution, to Katsidis’ nose, Duran noticed some flaws.

“The cut man put the swab in the guys (Katsidis) nose. And he is turning it like butter number one. And when he did that, it probably busted a blood vessel inside the nostril. How many times have you gotten cut, applied direct pressure, and it stops bleeding? Well, those are the same theories. But now you are using a medication (adrenalin chloride 1:1000) that is supposed to work as a constrictor. When you apply that on the cut or a blood vessel, the theory is that the blood vessel is supposed to close. But this guy was turning it like butter and he was just creating more damage. But then he gets that blood swab that looks like a tampon, and he puts it back in his mouth.”     

Duran made it a point to state that UFC cut men wear gloves, and when they use an enswell they apply direct pressure, and do not put swabs in their mouth or near their ears. This is a formula that Duran personally established for the cut men in the UFC and he uses it with all of his boxers as well.

When using his system, Duran says that cut men do not have any problem working multiple cuts. But he still has trouble relaying that message to ‘old boxing guys.’

In all fairness, Duran thinks most fighters do not know the difference between good and bad cut men. And he has a point, unless there is a bad cut or swelling during a bout, most fight fans do not think twice about how well a cut man is applying Vaseline on one’s face.  

“There are no schools for this,” Duran said. “I get emails all the time from people that want to learn more about what I do. But they do not understand that it is years and years and years of hard working, and not making money. But like I said, I have made videos, and written a book about handling cuts. I am willing to sit down and educate anybody that wants to learn. ”

When working a corner, Duran cannot help but to feel for his fighter. Mentally he goes into the bout as if the fighter is one of his kids and he is there to take care of them. There has to be a bond, he says. Anytime blood is drawn, and Duran could help, he feels a connection.

Meanwhile the fighters come to him for healing. But more importantly, they come to him for confidence. Duran worked with Andre Ward during his most recent fight on November 27th against Sakio Bika.

The Oakland native injured a knuckle on his right hand while training and it had bothered him leading up to the fight. On the night before the bout, Ward decided to have Duran practice wrap his hand to see how it would feel. The moment Duran arrived to Ward’s hotel room, the champion began telling him about the injury.

“After hearing him tell me about the injury, I knew that it became a psychological thing,” Duran said. “So I went into Andre’s room and I wrapped his hands, and made some adjustments here and there. When I finished wrapping his hands, he started hitting, and it felt good. In doing that the night before, I took away that mental pressure. In the dressing room on fight night, I wrapped his hands again. While he was warming up, and doing pads, I asked; ‘How does your hand feel?’ and he said, ‘I forgot about it.’

Duran asked Ward about the hand after the fight as well, and Ward had said that he did not even think about it. “Those are some of the things that you have to do as a cut man. It is not only the physical aspect, there is a mental game.”

Pain is in the mind. In order for cut men to earn an honest pay, the fighters have to trust them. It is Duran’s goal to take away the disadvantage of a cut or swelling. But he is disheartened by the cut men who continue to make mistakes or get lured into making mistakes.

There are roughly sixty seconds in between every round. Duran knows how to stretch the clock. When the bell sounds, Duran walks towards the center of the ring and is applying pressure before the fighter even sits down. They give him sixty seconds, he uses about fifty five. For Duran it is all about positioning.

“When a fighter gets cut, the primary position of a cut man is to go inside the ring. The cut man switches positions with the trainer so he could have direct contact with the fighter. Well, you’ll see a lot of trainers that do not want to do that. The trainers will not move out of the ring for whatever the reason may be. It does not make sense. The cut man should get the priority position.”

There have been times where a fighter is cut on the right side and the cut man stands on the left side of the corner, awkwardly reaching across the face. Duran calls those situations unprofessional and detrimental to a fighter’s well being.  For a cut man, Duran says that it is all about knowing what you do, and working with a good team.

“When you get a cut or have swelling that becomes the top priority. The fighter could still listen to the trainers’ instructions without making eye contact with him. Next time you watch a fight, you are going to study it a little bit harder and be like, Damn, he was right.”

Jacob “Stitch” Duran will be flying to Kazakhstan to work the corner of light heavyweight contender Beibut Shumenov on January 8th. Duran’s book “From the Field to the Garden” can be purchased on Amazon.com. It chronicles Duran’s childhood growing up as a farmer to his ascension to the top of the fighting world.

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