Hall of fame boxing commentator Al Bernstein is widely regarded as one of the best and most knowledgeable people in the sport. Bernstein has served as an analyst with Showtime since 2003 and has been ringside for some of the biggest events in the history of the sport.
In part 1 of my “On The Ropes” boxing radio interview with Al Bernstein, I discuss with him the recent fight between Vasyl Lomachenko and Guillermo Rigondeaux, getting his views on the recent and Lomachenko’s performance. Bernstein also talks about fights at 130 for Lomachenko and gives a breakdown of a potential Lomachenko vs. Garcia bout. Here is what Al Bernstein had to say.
Jenna J: There was a big fight over the weekend between Vasyl Lomachenko and Guillermo Rigondeaux. What were your thoughts on that fight?
Al Bernstein: It’s funny how you have initial thoughts about something and then you alter as you get closer. My original thought — and I even tweeted about this months ago before the fight was made — was that it was just way too much to ask of Rigondeaux to go up two weight classes and that Lomachenko should be looking for somebody more his size.
I took a lot of heat from fans on Twitter over that, and then as we got closer to the fight, I had tweets back and forth with Rigondeuax who said ,”No, I can do it.” Of course as it turns out, my initial feeling was more correct, it was just an impossible ask of Rigondeaux.
To add to the woes, he gave kind of a non performance and stopped fighting with an injury that we now have determined was not quite as severe as he thought. I’m not given to criticize that much but in this case, I think Rigondeuax kind of invited some criticism.
Jenna J: Do you think Rigondeuax went into the fight feeling that he had a chance to win and quickly found out he wouldn’t, or did he go into the fight knowing he was against it?
Al Bernstein: That’s the $64,000 question. I’d like to think that he felt he had a chance. The irony is, while he was losing, it wasn’t like Lomachenko was landing everything he threw with impunity. Lomachenko did land well and after the first round — which I thought Rigondeaux might have won — you had to give every round to Lomachenko.
We’ve seen fighters absorb much more punishment during the course of losing a fight where they are getting dominated. In this instance, while I think Lomachenko was winning and certainly controlling the action, it didn’t seem like a one sided beat down that would make somebody stop fighting.
Rigondeaux didn’t move a lot, he was in the pocket, and he showed a lot of his defensive skills. Whether he couldn’t move, or wouldn’t, remains to be seen. He stood in the pocket and still wasn’t able to land anything.
Jenna J: Going forward with Lomachenko, do you think he needs to go up in weight to lightweight because there aren’t many challengers at 130lbs?
Al Bernstein: I think there’s some fights at 130lbs. I’d like to see him fight Berchelt who has one of the championships. He moved up to 130lbs recently, so I don’t see a reason why he can’t have a fight at 130 against somebody like Berchelt maybe. I don’t think Gervonta Davis will fight him, he’s not quite ready for Lomachenko in my opinion anyway, and there’s promotional difficulties there.
Berchelt is potentially doable under the right circumstances, in terms of business, and I think that would be a really interesting fight. At lightweight, there are fighters that are available that are interesting, Jorge Linares, Mikey Garcia. Linares is a more makable fight, Garcia would take more machinations to make it happen. Mikey Garcia vs Lomachenko could be built into something quite special, if Garcia could be at 135lbs. If Lomachenko could beat Linares at 135lbs, can you imagine how big that would make the fight?
Jenna J: How do you think a Garcia-Lomachenko fight would play out stylistically?
Al Bernstein: It’s fascinating, it’s one of the most intriguing style match-ups you could have. Mikey Garcia has kind of altered the way he fights, or at least he has against the fighters he has faced recently. He’s been a little more aggressive, we always think of Mikey Garcia as a counter puncher who is very calculated, but he’s been more aggressive since he’s been reborn coming back to the sport and we may see that against Lomachenko.
Mikey may have to be more aggressive because if Garcia doesn’t score a knockout and fought as a counter puncher, he may not land enough punches to win the fight. Lomachenko will be busy, because he always is and he will show a lot of movement. I just think that fight stylistically is just a marvelous fight.