Boxing Insider Interview with Stitch Duran, Part 2
By: Henry Deleon
In the depths of telling us what it’s like to be a Cutman, Jacob “Stitch” Duran also caught up with Boxing Insider about the upcoming film “Creed 2 “and his role in it. Here’s what the legendary Stitch had to share:
Boxing Insider: Stitch, what was your role in this movie?
Stitch: Well you take a guess brother, I was the Cutman! (he says laughing) they brought me in to be part of the Creed legacy. When I did the first creed film, I told Ryan Coogler “Ryan if I see something that’s not authentic to the game I’ll bring it to your attention.” Ryan then said, “Stitch that’s why we brought you in here.” So, on that aspect I thought that was a very strong thing for him to say. It was pretty awesome actually and you know throughout the whole 1st Creed movie, and now this movie, not only was I the Cutman, but I was also an advisor to the judges around ringside, the referees, all the inspectors and everything. I helped and guided them in doing the right things. You guys will see when you watch the movie, you’ll notice that, what we put together, is pretty awesome!
Boxing Insider: We were there for the premier and to see the outcome of what you guys put together was extraordinary. To see how the audience in the cinema engaged with it, as if it was a real fight, was phenomenal. With your expertise in combat sports, did you have an input into how the fights were choreographed?
Stitch: Not so much in the fighting scenes. There were guys there who choreographed everything. With Michael B. Jordan though I helped keep him in that “fighter mode”. I remember when we did the first movie, I spent like 6 weeks one-on-one with Michael, which was tremendous. I would spend quality time with him in his dressing room, wrapping his hands so we would talk. I was just so impressed with him one day that I said “Michael, you’ve done such a great job in being a fighter that I am going to knight you as a fighter. You are an official fighter now”. Based on the first movie and on the second movie you can see his skill level has gotten so much better! Michael has done such a great, great job!
You talk about the psychological aspect, going back to one of your earlier questions. In the last scene where he’s fighting Viktor Drago, both Florian and Michael are just exhausted! They’re just doing take after take so they’re tired. I remember Florian sitting on the stool and Michael is down on the Canvas with Steven Caple, the Director, on his knees talking to Michael. I’m also down on my knees listening to the conversation. I hear Steven telling Michael “we have to get everything out of you for this last scene. You have to be exhausted Michael. You have to get everything out of you, I need everything out of you”. I’m over here thinking to myself “wow, what a great Director”. I see that Michael was exhausted. I tell him “Michael, this is where the Lion takes over”. I helped him get back up and they went on to finish that final scene.
Boxing Insider: Were there any moments, behind the scenes, where you had to stitch someone up or something because of accidental contact during the making of those fight scenes?
Stitch: Not so much stitching guys up, but you know Michael and Florian, they couldn’t help not making contact with each other. There was a moment, and you’ll be one of the first to know about this, that Michael showed me his knee and he has a lot of water built up in it. Michael asked me what I thought about it and I told him “Michael you’re going to have to get this drained”. That was on a Friday, and these guys worked their asses off. So, I get back to set that following Monday, Michael comes over and tells me that he got his knee drained and showed me the video of it. It’s things like that where they appreciate your knowledge and those are moments you just don’t forget.
Boxing Insider: How was it working with all these Boxing professionals on a movie set where everything is more choreographed?
Stitch: It was great! Andre Ward, you know, I’ve been working with him ever since he became a Pro. It was nice seeing him do all the acting parts and all that. All the other guys that were involved in the movie were just so excited to be part of this legacy. You look at them, you work with them, and a lot of those guys I wrapped them up behind the scenes. To see those guys, do what they do, I know when they see the movie they’re going to be super proud that they were part of this legacy.
Boxing Insider: To be a part of the Creed and Rocky legacy, it must feel like such an amazing honor.
Stitch: It definitely is! And you know Henry when we did the first Creed movie, it was like the 3rd or 4th week and I remember telling Sly (Sylvester Stallone) “Sly you know I can’t sleep at night. I’m in my room and I keep asking myself what am I doing here?” and he tells me “Stitch, you earned it”. There was another moment when I got the script for the 1st movie and my name on the script was Marcel. “Marcel?” I questioned. I didn’t even know anyone by the name of “marcel” let alone any Cutman. So, I said I was going to try and change my character’s name. then Sly being the professional that he is, when it was time for him to introduce us to Adonis (Michael B. Jordan’s character) he introduces me as “Stitch, the best Cutman in Philadelphia” and oh man, deep inside Henry I was screaming “Yes!”. The next day, I thanked him and once again Sly being such a professional says “Well it has to feel authentic”. So many props to him for understanding what makes a great movie.
Boxing Insider: For all those who are still waiting for the movie to be released in theaters, is there any last words you’d like to say to them?
Stitch: Henry you saw the movie, I saw the movie. It’s going to be great! The story line between Ivan Drago and his son Viktor Drago is a great storyline. To be able to see the side of the opponent, in all these boxing movies you never really get to see that side. Its only the star of the movie who we learn about. In this movie, we have a few stars. We have Florian who obviously fights Michael B. Jordan and then we have Dulph Lundgren that was, and continues to be Ivan Drago. So now he’s back in the movie so it was nice to rekindle his legacy and then to see the side of his son. Even the storyline with Michael and Tessa Thompson who plays “Bianca” Michael’s wife is a great storyline. Obviously “Rocky” he’s always going to be respected in whatever position he’s in, so expect to see a great movie. Also, the soundtrack is pretty amazing, I was really excited about that.
I spoke to Florian at the after-party of the movie premier and I told him how proud I am of him. Now Florian is the only one to get away with calling me “Stitchy” I remember telling him on set “Florian, if you weren’t so big I’d kick your ass” but that’s just the cariño (“affection” in Spanish)
So, I say to him “I’m so proud of you man, you’re going to be a star” he then says “Stitchy, I’ve read your articles and appreciate your kind words. I’m starting to get all kinds of offers now and you know what Stitchy? Now I can call my shots on these”. So, expect to see more of Florian Munteanu’s face, because he’s definitely going to be a star. Michael B. Jordan, the things that he has been doing! He’s the new “Denzel Washington” of the modern age. I’m so proud to be part of his team. So, check out the movie, it’s going to be tremendous!
Stitch grew up as a farmworker in the Central Valley of California. He still considers himself that humble little Chicano who grew up in the San Joaquin Valley. When he came to New York for the premiere, he was in disbelief that he was here with all these top actors. “Everyone is treating me like an actor, and calling me a legend. It’s a mind-blowing experience!” he says.
“That’s why I like to tell people especially the Latinos that “si se puede” which means it can be done. It’s all perseverance. Go out there and do what your heart tells you to do and even if you don’t reach the highest level, you’ll still be at a higher level than where you are today”.
Creed 2 hits theaters November 21st, 2018. This is a fight you won’t want to miss!
Boxing Insider Interview with Stitch Duran: A Cutman’s Insight Part 1
By: Henry Deleon
With all the excitement and anticipation going on for the new movie Creed 2, Boxing Insider had the great honor of interviewing one of combat sports highly praised Cutman, Jacob “Stitch” Duran. Stitch ,who plays Adonis Creed’s Cutman in Creed 2, shared some insight on what it’s really like to be a Cutman. Here’s what he had to say:
Photo Credit: @stitchduran twitter account
Just for the people who might not know who you are can you tell us a little about yourself?
Stitch: Well as “Stitch” goes, I am a Cutman for fighters. I work all Combat events, Boxing, MMA down to the Bare Knuckle fights and I’ve done kickboxing before. So that’s what I do but the bottom line is for me to take care of the fighters. I’ll wrap their hands, help them get ready to go to battle. During the fights they get swelling, they get cuts and my job is to make sure they are okay, which is number one and help give them every opportunity to win the fights.
Boxing Insider: what inspired you to choose this profession?
Stitch: It actually just happened. I was in the air force back in 1974 during the Vietnam War. They sent me to Thailand and I saw my first Muay Thai fight so I ended up getting addicted to that and I started training that whole year I was there. When I got back I live in Oakland and I went to Kings Gym which is where Andre Ward trains at. I started learning how to box to improve my hands. My elbows, knees were already all good but from there I started training Amateur boxers and down the road I ended up opening up my own school of kickboxing which was A.S.K, the American School of Kickboxing. There I trained fighters, managed them, and just for economical purposes having learned all trades of combat, I started wrapping hands and working cuts and that just floated to the top. So 23 years ago I picked up my family, I moved from the Bay Area to Las Vegas to be a Cutman only and so I’ve been there ever since.
Boxing Insider: You mention one of the roles for a Cutman is to wrap a fighters hands. Can you explain a little more on the importance of wrapping a fighters hands properly?
Stitch: It’s extremely important to wrap a fighters hands properly. Frank Mir from the UFC once said and I quote “When I see Stitch walk into the dressing room, my stomach just drops because I know it’s time to fight” but in doing that, the psychology, outside just the mechanics of wrapping a good hand, protecting the knuckles, metacarpals the wrist and the thumb, is extremely important. Because these guys are getting ready to go to battle and you want to make sure their hands are ready and that’s one of the things I’m really good at but basically the bottom line of wrapping a good hand is so you don’t break them.
Boxing Insider: You mention a “psychological aspect” in what you do, do you mind telling us a little more about that, what’s the psychological toll it takes to be a Cutman?
Stitch: Well that’s a great question, Henry because that’s not something you go to school to learn. Because going to school to learn to be a Cutman is non-existent. I’ve done videos to help guys out but on the psychological aspect you have to really have been in the trenches in knowing what these guys are going through on the mental side and on the physical side and it’s how your approach with the psychological aspect that’s makes it important to give these guys confidence. A lot of guys when I wrap their hands you know you can see their confidence levels go up, and you know there’s many times when a guy will give you a hug and a kiss and tell you they love you because they know it’s time to go to battle and they know I’m there to take care of them so psychologically it’s important.
A good story is when Wladimir Klitschko fought Anthony Joshua, Wladimir Klitschko’s last fight. In the dressing room before the weigh in, I put my hand on his shoulder and I said Wladimir, don’t worry about nothing tomorrow, I’m going to take care of you like you’re my son. And he’s been the heavyweight champion of the world for like 12 years.
So during the fight in front of 90,000 screaming British, before Michael Buffer makes the announcement, I’m putting the final Vaseline on Wladimir, and it’s just between him and I and he looks down on me and says “Stitch, you can call me son” and you know, I thought that was extremely important because I knew throughout the night when he was thinking about the fight, that statement I made the day before stayed in his mind, and that’s probably the greatest fight he’s ever had in his career.
And then he calls me like 3 or 4 days after and he’s like “Hey Daddy”, so you know it stood with him.
Boxing Insider: Wow that’s amazing. So you end up developing a strong bond with these fighters you work with. Has there ever been a time in your career where you panicked because of how a cut was? Like how important is it for a Cutman to stay composed in situations like that.
Stitch: Damn that’s another good question. Damn you’re pretty good bro.
It’s extremely important keeping your composure. When people ask me what it takes to be a Cutman, you know the number one thing that goes at the top of the list, is keeping your composure. Obviously having the right tools of the trade, knowing when to use them and how to use them that goes with it but composure is extremely important. Have I ever choked in a situation like that? No I’ve been really good at keeping my composure. And it’s important because a fighter will read you. Mike Pyle, another UFC fighter once said “When I see Stitch walking in, I know I have a cut but I’m not concerned” Even Andre Ward, when he got cut, he said “ I knew I got cut but the first thing that popped in mind was I’m not worried because I have Stitch in my corner.” and those are very strong words.
Boxing Insider: What advice can you give a trainer, in a circumstance where he has an amateur fighter and his fighter gets cut or a swollen eye. What advice can you give him on how to handle the situation, knowing at amateur level you don’t have access to a Cutman in your corner.
Stitch: You’re pretty good bro. You know for all these amateur cultures and actually a lot of them with the pros, especially in the pro’s, because this is the only A level sport where you don’t have to be certified to be a trainer so on that aspect it’s important for them to study other Cutman to get as much information as possible. The common sense for the key element to what we do is if it was you, how would you like for somebody to take care of you. so that’s very important.
Jacob “Stitch” Duran has worked with countless boxing champions like Andre ward, Chris Algeiri, Wladamir Klitchsko and many more. Catch Stitch alongside Michael B. Jordan, Sylvester Stallone on November 21, 2018 in Creed 2. Creed 2 brings to you one of the most sought out fights you won’t want to miss!