World's best cutman backs Joseph Parker and Kevin Barry for WBO title bid
Boxing's best cutman, Jacob "Stitch" Duran, believes Joseph Parker will "bring a world title to the table" and says having Kevin Barry in his corner is a huge bonus for his WBO championship fight.
Parker takes on Mexican Andy Ruiz for the WBO title in Auckland on December 10.
American Duran, who has consistently worked the corner for former world champion Wladimir Klitschko as well as current US star Andre Ward, knows Parker and Barry well and was happy to talk up their prospects for the historic New Zealand fight.
Duran was in Parker's corner in Germany in 2014 when he fought on the undercard to Klitschko's world title defence against Australian Alex Leapai. It was an eventful evening with Parker suffering a burst ear drum after being clipped during his seventh round TKO win over Brazilian Marcelo Nascimento.
For Duran, that proved Parker's courage and also confirmed the calmness required from Barry.
"When Kevin asked me to work with this young handsome kid from New Zealand called Joseph Parker, I was more than glad to. I got to see Joseph and I was impressed, and I've been a big supporter and a big fan of his ever since that," Duran said in Las Vegas, ahead of working Ward's corner in the controversial win over Sergey Kovalev.
"I remember the fight ... I didn't know he had an injury until later, but in an injury like that, when you bust an ear drum or something like that, it becomes quite a factor on your balance and all that. Joseph never showed any signs of weakness, and if that was his hardest fight up to that point, I think we did pretty good."
Duran, who starred in two Rocky movies and worked the UFC scene, also has experience in the corner of Andy Ruiz and worked alongside his trainer Abel Sanchez.
He did issue a warning for the Parker camp.
"I've worked one of Andy's fights here in Vegas and I've seen him work ... tough kid," Duran said.
Duran said Ruiz's lack of real height made him more suited to being a light-heavyweight or middle wicket but that was impossible because of his heavy build.
"Andy Ruiz's technique is really, really surprising. When I saw him fight, he doesn't look like a fighter, but the things that he does, and the power he possesses, is pretty impressive.
"Joseph Parker has the speed no doubt about it. He has the size. But skill-wise, technique-wise, different angles of shots, I think Andy Ruiz probably has the edge on that."
The corner battle between Barry and Sanchez, who has trained 16 world champions, will be influential to what infolds in the ring at Vector Arena on Saturday-week.
Duran talked up the thoroughness of Barry's preparations, something that was crucial for fight nights to run smoothly, especially in emergency situations.
"I worked with Kevin when he was training Beibut Shumenov, so I know his skill work and the importance of working a good corner. I freelance in different corners, so that's important for us to have some sort of plan going in there. Kevin does this, I do that, the third man does this … if it's a championship fight, the fourth man does this.
"It's important to have those faculties in order, and Kevin laid those out for us when we went out there. So he's a smooth operator. Is he on the same level as Emanuel Steward? Of course, when it comes to working corners.
"He's great at motivating the fighters, he's calm and collected."
Duran likes Barry's hands-on approach to coaching and feels Parker will have benefited from having him with him "100 per cent of the time" over the last three and a half years.
This fight is all about Parker trying to become New Zealand's first Kiwi-born heavyweight champion of the world. Duran feels Barry has already fulfilled his own legacy by guiding Shumenov to the WBA cruiserweight title.
"If you win a world title does that give you the credentials of being the best of the best? I don't think so. It's nice to have a world title. He's had one, Joseph Parker will definitely bring one to the table, and that will just lock in Kevin's legacy. But I don't think he needs it, he's established."