SugarHill Steward and Stitch Duran remember the incredible intensity of being in Tyson Fury’s corner. They spoke to John Dennen
THIS was a battle of extraordinary brutality. Even for a fight at the top of heavyweight boxing, Tyson Fury and Deontay Wilder subjected each other to a degree of punishment rarely matched when they concluded their trilogy in Las Vegas this October.
Fury only let the American down in the third round for Wilder, who has explosive one-touch power, to drop the Brit twice in the fourth. From the plots it looked like heavy knocking. But his corner knew Fury could get by.
“I expected an early knockout by Tyson in the third round. It looked like that and, then the fourth round, Tyson got a bit… he forgot, ”SugarHill Steward, his coach, laughed faintly when he remembered those wild rounds. “He was still very awake and so on. I was not worried about him in the fourth round. It was just – the bell was finally going to ring, to get him back and he did everything he had to do in that fourth round. He held on for a moment and then fought back. He did not get so hurt, it was just that time where you were just a little shaken and Deontay got so much adrenaline and so much of a repulsion from that knock. So just try to calm that guy down and regain control. I thought Tyson handled himself very well. “He came out in the fifth round and kept doing what he did in that third round, and that fourth round until he was caught, and kept doing that for the rest of the fight.”
Jacob “Stitch” Duran was in the corner next to SugarHill. The cutman, his only job was to take care of Fury. “I watch and I keep my composure, and Jorge Capetillo screams and Sugar is excited, and I have to keep my composure, because I still have to stay focused. When Tyson was dropped in that round twice, I always made eye contact. The eyes will tell you everything and as he stepped in he regrouped pretty well and as he sat I naturally had eyes on him right off the bat and he relaxed and he focused so fast again. So I knew he was okay, ”Stitch recalled.
Fury’s powers of recovery are unmistakable. “Eyes tell you everything. When you start working with so many fighters, is that you learn that their eyes will telegraph everything that happens. He focused well, “Duran continued. “I’m sure to go through his head wash: ‘S ** t, twice. S ** t, twice. What am I going to do? ‘ I’m sure it all runs through his head. That’s why it’s important to us to give him some kind of ground, let him take a deep breath and then say, well, how do I beat this one now. He did well. “
SugarHill’s work in that corner was tremendously impressive. He got Fury back on his feet and encouraged him to go for the knockout just when he had to. “I do not even know if it was instructions. It was a claim. These were not instructions. It was like an assignment. It was either, listen Tyson you can go out there and knock him out, or you can go outside the ring and I will climb into your seat and I will go there and finish the work. That’s about what it’s about. So he looked at me, he was like, f ** k it, f ** k it, I’m going to do it. That was for sure what it was. “All I said was a nutshell,” Sugar said.
Stitch described how he begged Fury to use his sting. “Because his sting was great. You can not read it. He knew how to pump him up. You can not be nice with Tyson Fury in the corner. “At that point, you have to take control and instruct him to go after him – he’s going to do it anyway, but you have to be in control in that corner and Sugar is doing a good job of doing that,” said Duran.
Fury sent Wilder back to the canvas in the 10th round and ended the fight with a massive shot in the 11th. “I felt Tyson dominated the fight, but there has always been that punch’s chance in Deontay Wilder. You know what happened in the fourth round, there was always the possibility that it would happen again in that fight. Because you’re looking at two big punchers. The two biggest punchers in the heavyweight division. Now I can say Tyson Fury is now the biggest puncher in boxing. He is the biggest puncher in the heavyweight division. He just took it from Deontay Wilder, the same way he took the Wladimir Klitschko linebacker. It goes to his one hitting knockout power. “I think people said you can not learn it,” SugarHill said. “They do not have to [believe you can], I learn it. I believe in it. It’s a technique. ”
“That is [Tyson’s] skills. His skills are to get by with it. Afraid and get it done. So this is what I expect to see. “I expect to see Tyson Fury walk through everyone in the heavyweight division,” he continued. “Just keep on being the best of him. I can not make Tyson Fury anyone other than him. I can only take him and make him better at what he is. ”
“The more he is Tyson, the better he will be and I do not know if anyone will beat him,” Duran added.
The team is filled with the spirit of Emanuel Steward’s Kronk Gymnasium. SugarHill is the great coach’s cousin. He first paired with Fury as his coach for the second Wilder fight in 2020, but they have known each other for more than a decade. “It’s the dynamic duo. “This is the hottest thing in any sport, this duo here,” said SugarHill. “He’s crazy like s ** t, I think I’m crazy like s ** t too. So this is the perfect combination. We both have a lot in common in our attitudes and things like that. We hit it off in 2010 when he first came here, first boarded a plane and came to Detroit in search of Kronk and Emanuel.
“It’s like one big family. They also took me into the fraternity and I enjoy it and I love it.
“This is how I was raised at Kronk. It was a team, but it was not really a team, and I keep saying it by accident – Kronk was a family. It was a family bond and everyone helped each other and everyone felt that way. That’s why you had so many world champions from that one gym at one time. There has never been such a thing done in history. We had so many champions from that gym, but at the same time. And they all spared and helped each other. “Olympic gold medalists, world champions, from light heavyweights to lightweights, I mean they always struggled in the gym and trained with each other, just like an amateur team,” SugarHill continued. “When new fighters came, they became part of that family. They felt it. The guys struggled hard in the gym, but when they were done, they went to that locker room, sat down and talked about it together.
“So it was wonderful. They are brothers. “Everyone in that Kronk family is brothers, no matter what.”
Duran knows the Kronk way well. He has worked closely with Emanuel Steward for many years. In fact, he was in Wladimir Klitschko’s corner when he fought Tyson Fury. “The thing with Wladimir is that he understands my job is to take care of fighters and that era with him and Tyson is over,” Stitch remarked. “If Tyson and Wladimir were to fight against each other now, I would probably have to move out. Just say, well, I would recommend someone of high caliber. ”
When he met Fury, Duran told him: “I just could not understand how you beat Wladimir. I just could not understand. I think we were just too confident to look at you. But when I saw you fight with Deontay Wilder, I understood your style of fighting … Bruce Lee would say, you move like water. I was really impressed with your defense. “
Stitch explained: “No one could teach Floyd Mayweather how to fight. You can not follow what Floyd Mayweather does as a fighter and as a heavyweight you can not do what Tyson Fury does as a heavyweight. Because that style is designed exclusively for him and it is not really taught, it is rather just reflexes and reactions. This is what makes him so good. But what a dynamite guy … It’s about the characters I work with.
“Not just him, but the whole team. The whole team is top professionals. Sugar, I know his style because I’ve worked with Emanuel Steward for 10 years, 12 years, so if anyone knows Sugar’s style, it’s me.
“We already have that unit. Andy Lee, I worked with him when he was a fighter who worked with Emanuel Steward. ”
That Kronk legacy continues. Lennox Lewis, one of Manny Steward’s most famous students, told SugarHill after the last Fury-Wilder fight that Emanuel would be proud. “It was good. Lennox had a relationship with Emanuel and for him to say it… it sometimes makes me emotional,” Sugar said.
The channeling of emotion is part of their success. When under acute pressure, Fury can shake it off and excel. SugarHill only knew what to say to him, and when he needed it to say it. “Keep your composure, but still know when to bring out that anger, so to speak,” maybe that’s the Kronk way, suggests Stitch Duran.
There are elements that make great fighters. “Convenience that has always been a key factor. “These guys know what level of combat they are in,” he said. “Tyson Fury works every second of every round and you do not see every fighter do it. This is what I consider the number one – calmness, knowing where you are, the discipline and the sacrifice they have to make.
“I know the generation that is going at the highest level,” Duran added. “I see the basis that he [SugarHill] is building. ”
Fury and his corner developed a band, the kind of band they needed to get through this last Wilder game, a battle of almost unparalleled intensity. “It was high energy,” Stitch giggled.
Sugar put it more simply: “I do not think they have a word in the dictionary to describe it.”