Hall of Fame boxing commentator, Al Bernstein, is one of the most recognized voices of the sport of boxing, having covered the sport for over 30 years. I recently had a chance to speak with Al Bernstein to get his thoughts on last year’s boxing and get his thoughts on what it compared to other years in the sport. Al also talked about the upcoming Pacquiao-Bradley III bout, giving his views on the previous bout, how a third bout might go and who he is tipping to win the third fight. Additionally, Bernstein gave his views on Thurman vs. Porter. Here is what Al Bernstein had to say.
Robert Brown: What were your thoughts on the 2015 year in boxing?
Al Bernstein: I thought 2015 was generally a very good year for boxing, a lot of different things shook themselves up, but at the end of the day I judged the year based on the product, and the product in 2015 was good. It wasn’t as good as 2013, but it was better than 2014. I thought there were many good fights and a number of upsets to spice things up.
(Listen to the full interview here)
Robert Brown: Surprisingly Manny Pacquiao will fight Timothy Bradley again. What are your thoughts on that fight?
Al Bernstein: Yeah I kind of thought they would lean towards Crawford because that would have been at least a different fight. Bradley’s had two fairly competitive fights — I thought Pacquiao won the first fight but I thought there were competitive rounds that I thought Bradley won. I thought Bradley won maybe four rounds in that fight, you could give him up to five, so I didn’t think it was quite as much of a whitewash as some people thought. In the second fight, I thought Pacquiao won.
Much has been made of Teddy Atlas being in the corner of Bradley, personally, I don’t think it makes one whit of difference. I actually don’t think Bradley’s performance in his last fight was any different than the Tim Bradley we’ve see before. There were all the good things and there was still some of the recklessness. It was who he fought, it wasn’t that he fought any differently, I don’t think there was one iota of difference. But that’s a good selling point for this fight, and I guess it will be an interesting fight, it will be a competitive fight.
We don’t know where Manny Pacquiao has gone, has he slipped back a little further? I would have preferred him fighting Khan or Crawford, the fight I was really would have really been interested in seeing was Pacquiao and Broner. I thought that would have been fun, but obviously boxing politics made that difficult, but there was some talk.
Still, it will be interesting and the other thing is that they’re hedging on this being Pacquiao’s last fight now because they actually hold some strange hope that there will be a Pacquiao-Mayweather II fight, which I can’t even imagine people being that interested in it, even if Pacquiao is brilliant against Bradley.
Robert Brown: You don’t think Teddy Atlas will be any difference in the outcome of the fight?
Al Bernstein: No, absolutely not. Teddy Atlas is no better a trainer than Joel Diaz. He’s no different, he’s no better, he doesn’t bring anything to the dance that Tim Bradley hasn’t had access to before. As far as Tim Bradley is concerned, they preached him not being as reckless and using his boxing skills before.
Tim Bradley’s great, I love Tim Bradley, he wins and he’s one of the great competitors I’ve ever seen in the sport. Tim’s not the most talented guy but he’s in great shape and he’s competitive, he knows how to fight, and he’s been taught how to fight. Joel Diaz wasn’t sitting on his hands for all those years. I’m not saying a fighter doesn’t have the right to change trainers, he does, but there’s not any magic wand. Teddy Atlas hasn’t had a magic wand in the past and he doesn’t have one now. I’m not saying he’s not a decent trainer but there’s no special thing that’s gonna happen because he’s in the corner.
Robert Brown: What do you think is going to be the key selling point for this fight?
Al Bernstein: They’ll try to spin the fact that the second fight was fairly competitive. The same people that were distressed about the decision in the first fight will try and sell the fact that it was closer. Those are some of the storylines they’re going to have to try to use — whether they resonate is another question.
Now the pay-per-view market is all different now, so where as Manny Pacquiao and Floyd Mayweather were just able to toss their feet in the ring and be assured of a certain amount of pay-per-view buys, that is not true anymore. Certainly it’s not true with Pacquiao and his last pay-per-view fight kind of indicated that, so their mission here is to somehow find a way to get this thing over four or five hundred thousand, try to head to a respectable number. The interesting thing is that they did shy away from selling that it’s the last Pacquiao fight, that may or may not be a smart marketing tool on their part.
Robert Brown: Should the fight between Keith Thurman and Shawn Porter take place, who would you be picking at this early stage? And what is your prediction for Pacquiao-Bradley 3?
Al Bernstein: Well, if Thurman and Porter happens I’ll probably be announcing that, so I may hold up some prediction on fights I’m announcing. But I do feel the key to that fight is going to be whether Keith Thurman has a way in the later rounds to sustain his pace. Lately he’s become more of a boxer than a boxer-puncher. The pressure from Porter could be an issue for Thurman.
Keith is a better skilled technician than Porter is, but Porter, like Bradley, is a perfect example of a fighter who wins by sheer will and determination and conditioning, and has a very difficult offense to solve. If we see Porter pushing Thurman against the ropes and not getting hit with real good counter punches that will hurt him, then he’s gonna win that fight. For Thurman, if he can perform as a really good ring technician and uses his skill set the right way, he should beat Porter. I think it’s going to be a good fight.
As for Pacquiao and Bradley, that’s a tough one for me to predict because I think the gap between the two has narrowed. In the first fight, Bradley had some real serious injuries and I really point to that for the reason why in the first fight it was against him. In the second fight he did lose to Pacquiao, although the margin wasn’t huge. Bradley is always one of those people that’s going to be troubling and meddlesome to Pacquiao, so I think it’s going to be a very close fight, but I could see Pacquiao edging him out again.