In the days after Tim Tszyu surrendered his junior middleweight belt to Sebastian Fundora, the question was frequently asked: Should Tszyu’s corner have stopped the fight shortly after a stray Fundora elbow opened a bloody gash on Tszyu’s head at the end of Round 3? The never-ending crimson gusher certainly appeared to impede the Australian for the rest of the contest; had his team judged him unable to continue at that point, the fight would have been declared a no-contest and everybody would have lived to fight to another day.

One person who found himself fielding a lot of media calls that asked that very question was Jacob “Stitch” Duran, perhaps the most famous and identifiable cutman in the business right now. And when asked, Stitch offered that, had he been in that position, he would have stopped the fight. He knows he would have, he said, because he already did when confronted with a very similar situation.

On October 2, 2004, Wladimir Klitschko was facing DaVarryl Williamson at Caesars Palace. It was the Ukrainian’s first outing since shockingly losing his WBO heavyweight belt to Lamon Brewster at Mandalay Bay. And it was also his first fight with Stitch in his corner.

“I knew Wladimir had won the first three rounds,” Stitch recalled in a recent interview with BoxingScene. "He didn't look great, but he won them. In the fourth round, he gets dropped – it wasn’t serious, but he got dropped. But he's still up on the cards, right?  We're on the fifth round, he gets an unintentional headbutt. So he sits down and I'm telling him and [brother] Vitali: ‘Look, you’ve got a bad cut and you’re winning the fight. I'm gonna have the doctor stop the fight.’ So the doctor comes over, Dr. [Margaret] Goodman. I’ve worked with her many times before. And she goes, ‘What do you think, Stitch?’ I open the cut up, and she says, ‘Yeah, it’s pretty bad. She stopped the fight, we went to the scorecards, and he became champion for eight years after that.” 

Under normal, less extreme circumstances, Stitch explains, the first step to try and stop bleeding would be with the application of adrenaline 1:1000, which is one of the formulas that athletic commissions permit cutmen to use.

“It’s a vessel constrictor,” he says. “So, if you’ve seen me work on a cut, I’ll squeeze the cut first, and basically you have these little veins, and you squeeze the cut to try and clear all the blood out of there. Then you put the swab with the adrenaline 1:1000 in the cut and it absorbs into the base of the cut and it closes up the blood vessels. But that cut [that Tszyu had] had too much blood flowing to give the adrenaline the opportunity to take effect. And that vein was a little larger than the ones around it.

Which is not to say that, if at all possible, Duran won’t throw everything he has at a cut to stop it bleeding. One example is when he was in the corner of underdog Forrest Griffin in his UFC bout against Mauricio “Shogun” Rua in 2007. When a Shogun elbow tore open a cut on Griffin’s forehead, Stitch got to work.

“This time I used Avitene,” he says. “It’s another medication [for controlling bleeding]. My wife describes it best – she says it’s like a cotton candy type of mixture. And I put it in the cut. Then I applied Vaseline with the adrenaline mix over the top. And Forrest stayed in the fight and won the fight. I’ll try everything that’s in the book.”

Talking of “the book,” commissions are strict about what medications are permitted in the corner. But anyone who has spent any time around club shows or fight camps will have met the self-identified cutmen who claims to have something “special” in his bag. Duran’s advice to any young fighters who find themselves being offered the services of someone like that: run a mile.

“I remember when Diego Corrales fought Jose Luis Castillo the second time, this guy in the dressing room comes up and he says, ‘Hey, man, yeah, I got this right here. It'll stop a bullet wound.’ And it's a swab, right? What’s on it? I don’t know, but I’m not going to use it. The problem is that none of us, me nor you or any other trainer, has to be certified to be called pros. You roll up and you look at what these other guys are doing, and you work from their examples, whether it's right or wrong. And that's why I'm trying to educate people all the time.

“Here's what I tell these young kids to look for if you're looking for a cutman. Number one, if he puts the swab in his mouth, or on his ear, or has no gloves, get another cutman, because that's filthy. But on the medical side, ask him: What is the function of adrenaline chloride 1:1000? Nine out of 10 will tell you – and this happened yesterday, because I always kind of check with these guys – ‘Oh, it's a coagulant.’ No, it's not a coagulant. If the guy tells you that, go get another cutman because this guy doesn’t know what he's talking about. Very simple. But they don't ask, you know?”  

Duran will be working the corner again in Las Vegas on Saturday night, taking care of junior featherweight Damien Vasquez in his fight with David Picasso. Whether it’s a main-event star or an undercard B-side, Duran approaches every fight the same way: making sure the fighter feels comfortable, doing everything he can to relieve him of any unnecessary stress so he can focus on the task at hand and working quickly and diligently to reduce any swelling and stop any bleeding and give his man (or woman) the best possible fighting chance.

It’s a relationship that doesn’t end when the final bell rings and the fans have all gone home, either.

“The other day I went to see Brian Mendoza [whose corner Duran worked when Mendoza lost to Serhii Bohachuk on the Fundora-Tszyu undercard],” Stitch says. “I went to his house to get my check. We had thought he broke his jaw, but it was a hematoma. I’m talking to him and his father, and his mother’s there, and I’m asking them how they feel, and this and that. You just try to encourage them, and you tell them they’ve just got to refocus, reboot and go forward. Remind them that, ‘You’re a gladiator, a modern-day gladiator. One’s going to win, one’s going to lose, and how you take that next step is extremely important.’”

And when they’re ready to take that next step, Duran will stand ready to be there with them, adrenaline chloride and Avitene at hand, ready for the worst that the boxing fates can throw at them.

Kieran Mulvaney has written, broadcast and podcasted about boxing for HBO, Showtime, ESPN and Reuters, among other outlets. He also writes regularly for National Geographic, has written several books on the Arctic and Antarctic, and is at his happiest hanging out with wild polar bears. His website is