Al Bernstein: “ I think Pacquiao-Mayweather is going to be made”

boxingby Geoffrey Ciani - This week’s edition of On the Ropes Boxing Radio featured an exclusive interview with Showtime boxing commentator Al Bernstein. Following Andre Ward’s impressive victory over Allan Green in the final group stage two match-up of the Super Six Boxing Classic, Bernstein shared his views on the tournament and other aspects of the current boxing landscape. Here is some of what Al had to say:

On Andre Ward’s performance in his group stage two victory against Allan Green:
“Well he was outstanding and one of the things that made it even better was t hat he altered what he did against Mikkel Kessler in that brilliant performance. He decided that one of the things he could do against Allan Green was get in close and smother the big left hook of Green and land a lot of punches. He told us he was going to try and do that a little early in the fight but it worked so well for him that he kept it up during a lot of the fight. He’s a very smart fighter. He’s clever, he knows what he’s doing in the ring, he follows Virgil Hunter’s game plan perfectly, and he was too good and too disciplined for Allan Green.”

On whether he was surprised by how ineffective Allan Green was in his fight with Ward:
“Well yes and no. Yes, because this was the most important moment of his career and if ever he was going to show us what he had, and he kept telling everyone that would listen for weeks and weeks leading up to the fight that he was going to do it, and even as much as when we had the fighter meeting the day before so in that sense I’m surprised, but to be perfectly honest, Allan Green has been an underachiever so the burden of proof was on him to show that he’s not and he didn’t on that evening..

On criticisms from fans who claim Ward’s performance was “boring”:
“What did he do that was boring? I’m amazed at that. I can’t even imagine how you could criticize that. He threw a lot of punches, he didn’t just pose, when he got in the inside he was working, throwing upper cuts, left hooks to the body, little short chopping right hands—what would anyone want Andre Ward to do that he didn’t do in that fight? He completely dominated it, he threw a lot of punches, the only thing he didn’t do was knock Allan Green out but beyond that he was just excellent. I didn’t find it boring. I mean, I found it boring because it was one-sided but I didn’t find Andre Ward’s performance boring.”

On who he considers to be the best super middleweight in the world right now:
“Obviously Bute is outside the tournament and so when we talk about him we’re not going to talk about in terms of this tournament. He’s clearly as good as the people in this tournament, there’s no question about that. Within the tournament, who’s going to win the tournament? That I don’t know. Even though Ward has the lead with four points, I could give you the rationale for several people still winning this tournament. For instance, I think Andre Dirrell has a very good chance to beat Andre Ward in the next fight. I really do, based on the way he fought against Abraham and based on the match-up of styles which is of course often what it boils down to. Andre Dirrell will probably need to win that fight in order to make it to the semi-finals. Arthur Abraham, I don’t think you could rule him out even though he gave a poor performance against Dirrell. You still have Froch, Kessler fought better against Froch then he had before. Lucian Bute would certainly be right in that mix. I don’t know that I could pick one that I would say right now I’m absolutely sure is the best, even with Ward’s two brilliant performances.”

On whether he believes Ward has the mental strength to continue forward and fulfill the potential he’s show in these first two rounds:
“Well he definitely has the mental strength. That’s the one part of Andre Ward that no human on the planet can question. He’s the most—I’m going to say the most, I’m not even going to qualify—he’s the most disciplined, organized, and focused fighter in the sport today, bar none. There isn’t anybody that touches him in those departments and no fighter, none in the sport of boxing right now, has a better or more organized corner. So all of that stuff he’s got going for him, that isn’t even in question. The only question with him, and the one that of course is with any fighter, is he going to see somebody whose style matches up much better than him (aka-maybe Andre Dirrell)? Is he going to face a big puncher who is going to land something that’s monstrous and be simply too much for him? He’s been down once in his career and he was hurt one other time, any fighter can be. Barring the answer to those questions, he reduces the chances that he’ll lose. He goes in there minimizing the chances of a loss as much as a fighter can and gives himself as good a chance to win as anyone and you can’t ask for too much more than that.”

On what he believes was the biggest surprise so far in the Super Six:
“Well, one of the first big surprised came when Kessler lost so dramatically to Ward. You know, certainly Ward could have won the fight but the way he lost was I thought kind of shocking, so that was a big surprise. The other surprise to me was how well Andre Dirrell did against Arthur Abraham. He did everything that you would want him to do in that fight. Of course, he won on a disqualification, but he performed so well during that fight so that kind of surprised me as well. The other surprising part I think is that other than Ward, nobody won two fights in a row so that’s pretty interesting.”

On who he thinks suffered the toughest break so far in the Super Six:
“Well, Kessler did a little bit in a way even though he fought poorly and was going to lose anyway, all those clashes of heads were difficult, so that added to his woes and he kind of got a tough break. I thought Andre Dirrell got a tough break, you could say, in not getting the decision against Froch in a close fight and then I would say Froch against Kessler—he could have easily been given that decision, very close fight. If fighters wanted to look at things that could have gone another way for them, those three certainly could look at it. I wouldn’t say Abraham got a tough break because I think he deserved to be disqualified.”

On which group stage three match-ups he believes are most intriguing and potentially most exciting:
“I think the most exciting could be Froch-Abraham because Froch is going to land a bunch of punches, try and get through that defense, will land something of note, and then I think Abraham when he comes out of that cocoon will land something of note and both men have really good chins. A close second, though, is Dirrell and Ward. I really think that’s going to be a great fight. They’re both boxers, but Ward’s not a runner and Dirrell can’t afford to be a runner in this fight because he needs this fight so badly so he’ll fight more like he did against Abraham, moving but still engaging and throwing punches, so I think that’s a really good fight. I would tell you that Green-Kessler is going to be good but I don’t know if Allan Green can summon up a good effort. Stylistically it’s a perfect fight for both fighters. They’re both in front of each other, they’re both power punchers, Kessler has the edge in hand speed and combination punching but if Allan Green comes to fight and is ready, it should be a really good fight between him and Kessler.”

On whether he believes having tournaments like the Super Six in other divisions would be good for boxing:
“I think the concept is good. One of the thing that makes this one good, and I think it’s a part of the equation, when we have single eliminations tournaments it’s good, it’s fun, but with single elimination tournaments you may have gotten the wrong style that day or whatever. When it’s not a single elimination like this it’s really interesting. These are not easily put together, though. Really, with all the promoters in boxing that have to get involved in this, all the different managers as evidenced by Shaw making that suggestion—which I also find interesting that he decided to go to HBO to suggest a tournament after he started one on Showtime, but that’s another story. It’s interesting. He was just suggesting what I think was a single elimination and he still couldn’t get four fighters involved so it shows how difficult it is. I know there’s been talk of a cruiserweight tournament, which by the way, is a division where—the places where these tournaments work the best, and a demonstration of that was how it didn’t work in the junior welterweight division. Those fighters have some cache already in terms of name recognition and notoriety and clout. Super middleweights didn’t have so much of that and they fight each other anyway. The cruiserweights are exactly the same. They clearly desperately need this kind of thing to get their names out there and they are already fighting each other on a regular basis so the cruiserweight division is probably the one where it would make the most sense.”

His views on the current health of the sport:
“Well for the most part boxing—and I think Pacquiao-Mayweather is going to be made, so in the grand scheme I think that will get there. Most of the big matches that people wanted to see were made in the last six or seven years, unlike the 90s, when boxing didn’t do it in the 1990s. That was an abyss for the sport. I think the sport has made a renaissance in the last five or six or seven years. It’s still something of a niche sport, at least in America, but then everything other than the NFL is a niche sport in America. Internationally boxing has really made great strides so I don’t see the sport in decline. I think it’s seeking its level and I think especially internationally, it’s in really healthy shape and in America the media is covering the sport a little bit more and that’s a plus.”

On how he views a potential fight between Manny Pacquiao and Floyd Mayweather Jr:
“Well I think it’s an interesting fight. I think we’re really going to find out in the first five rounds of that fight because Pacquiao is going to get hit with some kind of impressive right hand by Mayweather. He tends to get hit with a real quick fighter like Marquez who could hit him with the right hand. Mayweather is going to do that and Mayweather’s a good puncher, a sharp puncher, and might be physically a little bigger than Pacquiao or at least has been at higher weights more often. I think we’re going to know when Mayweather lands one of those right hands lands—did it hurt Pacquiao? Did it knock him down? Did it get him in trouble? Does it lead to more of an onslaught? If the answer is any of that, then obviously Pacquiao is in big trouble and he’s probably going to lose the fight. If, however, he gets hit with one of those right hands and he’s able to shake it off and continue with his onslaught of seventy or eighty or ninety punches a round and make Floyd Mayweather fight every second of every round, which he does not like to do, then I think this fight is going to get very interesting as we head into the second portion of it and I think that’s where Pacquiao certainly has a chance to win the fight.”


For those interested in listening to the Al Bernstein interview in its entirety, it begins approximately one hour and five minutes into the show.


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Article posted on 27.06.2010

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