Jacob ‘Stitch’ Duran: “It has never been about the money, it has always been about accomplishment.”
By Jack Rainbow
At the start of 2020, Jacob ended up working with one of the biggest fighters in the world in world heavyweight champion Tyson Fury. This was no easy job, however, with Tyson suffering a huge cut in his prior fight:
“In the 6 weeks before the fight, my name was being thrown in there about working with Tyson, and I heard Bob Arum was interested in working with me. Two weeks before the fight, I got a call and I went and met him, and by the way what a super guy Tyson Fury is. I walk in, and like a gentleman, he sticks his hand out, shakes my hand, and says welcome to the team.”
“Right away we start looking at the cuts and he shows me the stitches and the scar, and I told him whoever did this has done a great job, as the scarring is minimal. We went over the game plan and I always do preventative maintenance, and I told him my focus is your face, and every round I told him I was going to keep the ice pack on him and apply vaseline and took it out of his mind. Psychology is a big big thing, and even though these guys are modern-day gladiators, deep inside they are still babies, and I told Tyson it’s my job to keep you as handsome as you were walking into the ring.”
“When I was working at a bare-knuckle fight the following week I got asked two questions, one how did I get the job, and what about the cut. And I said to Tyson everyone’s concerned about the cut, apart from you and me! I took it out of Tyson’s mind, his whole team seemed really comfortable with me being there so it was good.”
Fury is known by alot of people inside the boxing industry as being great to work with. Jacob recounts similar tales:
“I said Tyson, I need to ask you, I have sponsors that I work with, and would you mind if I wear the same colors as you guys, but have my sponsors on it. He put his hand on my shoulders and said Stitch, you can do whatever the hell you want! The only thing I ask is no gambling or alcohol.
“That’s the kind of person he is. I told him when I worked with Klitschko, I didn’t know anything about him and thought it would be an easy fight. But now, after seeing him train I can see why he is so good, as his style of fighting is impossible to duplicate and tough to defend against because it is so unique.
“Before the Wilder fight, I saw him at his prime, and when he was beginning to peak. I do everything by numbers and percentages, and I told people that the chances of the cut opening are slim, and Deontay Wilder had one chance of winning and that was by KO. Meanwhile, Tyson could win through a decision or also a KO. I also think Mark Breland did a good job stopping the fight where he did, as Wilder was getting hit with long term damage.”
One of the most anticipated fights in British boxing history could be potentially happening next year, with Fury and Anthony Joshua touted to meet. Jacob believes Fury has a competitive edge:
“That will be a great fight. I always say that the thing with boxing is the only thing that counts is the truth. I try to give good analogies because lies don’t get you anywhere. When I look at styles, the style Tyson Fury has is so unreadable and tough to duplicate, so I would have to give the edge to Tyson.
“I think wherever you have that fight, you will draw a major audience. That is probably the fight of the decade. The hype behind it is huge and nobody does PR like Tyson Fury.”
In regards to all-time classics, Jacob has worked on many. One in particular he recounted was his night at Wembley when Wladimir Klitschko took on Joshua:
‘When I worked the fight with Klitschko, the 90,000 Brits were so loud that it sounded like a buzz. When Joshua walked out, it was deafening. I told Klitschko before that fight, don’t worry I will take care of you like a son.
“Just before the fight I was applying vaseline and getting him ready, and he looked at me in front of the world and said, you can call me son. That gave me chills to be honest with you because when you look at all the things a fighter goes through, I put that into his mind not to worry because I will take care of you. To this day I think that was one of the best modern fights, and Klitschko said he got more respect from that crowd than he ever had before. I was proud to be there.”
When asked about who was his most memorable client, Jacob did not hesitate to name the Klitschko brothers:
“It has to be the Klitschko brothers. In the position that they were in compared to now, they are super guys. They treated everyone with respect and we have a long history. Going back to 1991, when the Soviet Union just broke up, they had an event in Ukraine where they invited US kickboxers to Ukraine, and the Klitschko brothers attended. I had a kickboxer at the time so we went to Kyiv. At the time the Klitschko brothers were so young, but even then, they had billboards everywhere and were such a big deal.
“When they started training in Las Vegas, I went and spoke to them and brought up that event and they remembered it! That was our first meeting and then I was the cutman for Wladimir in the film Oceans 11, and from there, our relationship started and I became his cutman. We have alot of memories together.”
One surprising twist in Jacobs’s career happened last year when he worked with two YouTubers. He had very positive memories of KSI and AnEsonGib however:
“I didn’t know who KSI was! I knew Vidal Riley and Badou Jack, and they spoke about how he was coming over to the Mayweather gym, and when he came in, right off the bat we got along real good. I was the veteran with the young guy, and I told him straight away, I don’t know who you are, or what you do, but in here you are the boxer, and I will treat you like a boxer.”
Talking about AnEsonGib as well, he came in completely different. He was not an athlete and he didn’t even know who I was! However, he trained and trained and trained, and showed a lot of heart and soul. He was outmatched in the end, but he went into the lion’s den and fought gallantly and showed alot of heart. In the end, I have alot of respect for both of them.”
After decades in combat sport, Jacobs’s love for competition has been obvious. When asked what keeps him going, this seemed to be the overriding factor:
“It has never been about the money, it has always been about accomplishment. I have reached my goals but even so, just the experience of being in the trenches. I miss the fans right now, but I really do love what I do.”
The nickname Stitch is embroiled into the fabric of combat sports, due to the legacy of Jacob. His experiences as a cutman are vast and incomparable and his love for the sport is infectious. Hearing him speak about his experiences was enthralling, and it is clear that his love for combat sports continues to burn strong.