The value of having renowned cut man Jacob "Stitch" Duran in his corner quickly became apparent during Joseph Parker's impressive knockout victory over Shawndell Winters in Dallas yesterday.
After putting down the tough American late in the third round at the Dallas Cowboys' Frisco headquarters, Parker went on the attack in the fourth – perhaps a little rashly – and suffered a small nick above his right eye caused by a Winters left hook.
Parker's corner thought it had been caused by a headbutt as the pair exchanged punches on the inside in Winters' corner, but referee Rosario Solis quite rightly ruled it a legal punch. Had the cut got worse and the fight been called off, Parker would have lost the fight by technical knockout.
Instead, Parker, who punched with real power all night, stunned Winters with a right hand in the fifth round and finished him with a four-punch combination.
Previously, Parker's cut men have included trainer Kevin Barry, Barry's brother Bryan and Barry's son Taylor, but the 28-year-old heavyweight wanted Duran for this fight as he attempts to get back to the top of the division, and the man known around the world as Stitch is likely to remain in his corner.
"When I was coming in with my own hook he did a fall-away hook and it just nipped me," Parker said. "It's a tiny cut, the doctor said it didn't need a stitch but he put one in there just to be safe.
"Stitch is the best cut man out there and it showed last night. He knew exactly what to do. Kevin told him to jump in the ring and take care of it and Kevin was giving me advice from the outside. Everyone can see it's important to have the right, experienced people in your corner."
Parker's team, including Barry and manager David Higgins all recognised the importance of the decision. Parker hasn't been cut since suffering a bad one against Afa Tatupu in Auckland in 2013.
"Stitch is regarded as one of the best cut men in boxing history," Higgins said. "And the irony is we saw the cut."
Parker was a little downbeat after his victory, his 27th as a professional and 21st knockout, but the day after was more accepting of its importance and quality.
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"I rewatched the fight and the knockout was good," he said. "There were nice, clean punches when I did land them. Maybe I was a bit hard on myself but I always see room for improvement.
"The reality is you want to get knockouts because that's what everyone wants."
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He wants to fight twice more this year – as early as May or June and again at the end of the year – discussions his promoter Eddie Hearn is already attending to. A fighter at the next level such as Dereck Chisora, Dillian Whyte or Alexander Povetkin would be ideal.
"What Eddie Hearn told me is that there are a whole lot of meaningful meetings happening in the next fortnight," Higgins said. "A whole lot of cards are going to fall into place and at that stage the picture will become a lot clearer about the next opportunity for Joseph on a risk-return basis.
"Joseph looked formidable, tremendous. Winters was there to fight. He's fearless - you have to knock him out. He wasn't just there for the payday. Joseph got the job done in dominant fashion.
"Joseph is best when he is fighting regularly. Hearn and I discussed that this morning and there's general agreement that we want to have Joseph fighting again as soon as possible.
"Depending on what happens with the big boys, Joe might get another title shot in a year. It's been a good trip to Dallas. He's well on track for another run at the heavyweight title.
"Of course there are areas of improvement but I think it goes to Joe's honesty and humility that he would win in such a dominant fashion and then analyse the shortcomings."