Hall of Fame boxing commentator Al Bernstein has been calling the fights and providing his analyst view on boxing for over 30 years. He has been ringside for some of the biggest events in the history of the sport and has seen the rise and fall of many of boxing’s top athletes. Bernstein is now entering his 15th year with Showtime boxing, a relationship that started in 2003.
n part 1 of my “On The Ropes” boxing radio interview with Al Bernstein, I discuss with him the recent cancellation of Alvarez vs. Golovkin 2 and get his thoughts on Canelo’s reputation after his positive drug test. Al also talks about chances a rematch still happens in 2018. Additionally, Bernstein talks about Anthony Joshua’s recent win and the likelihood of a Joshua vs. Wilder bout. Here is what Al Bernstein had to say.
Jenna J: What were your thoughts on the Canelo Alvarez vs. Gennady Golovkin rematch getting called off due to Canelo’s positive drug test?
Al Bernstein: At the end of the day, I try to filter these things through the eyes of fans, because they are what drives the sport. I’m sure the fans are disappointed. We are in the midst of a year in boxing that had excellent matches that people wanted to see and we have so many more on the docket.
At the end of the day, what I’m left with mostly is that we lose one, this one goes away for a variety of reasons. The fate of Canelo is a more immediate fate, we will know shortly when they have their meeting with the Nevada State Athletic Commission. It was very unfortunate.
Jenna J: What were your thoughts on Canelo himself testing positive for a banned substance? Canelo was being touted as the next pay-per-view star, what do you think this does to his career?
Al Bernstein: Yeah it obviously casts a shadow. I know they are mounting a vigorous and specific defense that they hope will sway the court of public opinion when they get a chance to present it. That may be a key thing for him because in addition to however long the suspension may last, his bigger issue is how boxing fans see him and what are their perceptions of him. How he presents this case is going to go a long way toward how that plays out.
Jenna J: The fight is off and Golovkin is fighting someone else in May. The big question now is whether the rematch is going to happen now not. Do you still think it will happen this year?
Al Bernstein: That’s a valid question. It depends on how long the suspension is. If it’s a year long suspension and they can’t get around that, then I’m going to say the fight may not happen. A lot of things can happen in a year, and on top of that Golovkin is 37 years of age.
Golovkin is showing no signs of retiring, but I think it’s a safe statement to say that he’s in the twilight of his career. At some point you start to diminish a little bit. How much longer will he be around? If they wait, how will that affect the business side of things? I’m not sure that we’re going to see that fight this year, and I’m not sure we’re going to see it.
Jenna J: Anthony Joshua recently won a fight against Joseph Parker by decision. What were your thoughts on his overall performance?
Al Bernstein: I thought it was an uneven performance by Joshua. He did enough to win and there’s no question he won — although I don’t think he won by the margins the judges had it, I thought it was a little closer than that. It was an uneven performance, maybe a little flat. Part of that may have been Joseph Parker, who we now realize is a difficult man to fight.
One thing that amuses me is how people react to the last thing they see and it becomes their mantra. They look at the last thing and they say, “Oh my God, Deontay Wilder would destroy him, he didn’t fight as well as he should have” In reality it’s a lot about who’s in front of you.
I don’t think this dramatically changes the equation in a Wilder-Joshua fight. Clearly it was not the kind of performance that Joshua would have liked to have had. It’s not that he needed to knockout Parker necessarily, but I think he wanted a more consistent performance.
Jenna J: Wilder has stated that he’s willing to go to the UK to face Anthony Joshua. Do you think that fight will happen next or do you think they will each take an interim fight first?
Al Bernstein: The intriguing thing to me is that they’ve decided that they are not only willing to go fight him in the UK but they are willing to take a 60-40 split. It’s almost like politics and spin doctoring.
If Deontay Wilder and his people can control their messaging and make it simple and uncluttered, and make it clear in all of their interviews that they are willing to go there and willing to take a 60-40 split, then the onus is completely on Eddie Hearn and Joshua, completely. If that’s their message and they can repeat it over and over again, it’s going to be a lot of pressure on Hearn and Joshua to make that fight next. They won’t have too many reasons to say that they should have another fight in between.