The biggest fight in the welterweight division since Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao met in the ring is finally upon us. Undefeated Errol Spence meets undefeated Terence Crawford for the undisputed welterweight championship of the world. The fight was long talked about, but has come together with both fighters still in the prime of their careers. In Part 2 of my “On The Ropes” boxing radio interview with Al Bernstein, not only does he talk about the transition the sport has made to get to this fight, but breaks down the way each man has to get to victory and talks about this fight compared to the great Leonard-Hearns match that also featured two undefeated champions. Here is what Al Bernstein had to say.
Jenna J: Al, in recent years we have seen exhibition fights get a lot of the sport’s of attention, but that has started to go away even though Floyd Mayweather Jr. keeps having fights every 2-3 months. Do you pay attention to any of his recent fights or just ignore them as they are no longer relevant?
Al Bernstein: No, to be honest I don’t think they are of any merit and if people want to pay attention to them, they can but I don’t think it has any impact on the sport. If you are a fan of any person that does that you can be concerned that they are participating in those if you are worried about them suffering injury. It’s there for people to avail themselves of, for me personally it’s not of interest.
Jenna J: Let’s turn things to yourself, you will not only be calling the Spence-Crawford fight at the end of the month, you will be performing songs on stage at the Tuscany Casino a few days before the fight. Can you let the fans know a little about what you have going there?
Al Bernstein: Yeah it’s going to be fun, many of the people know that I do music shows, I started back in the 1980’s when I started to do music shows at Caesars palace. First one was I think for the Haglar-Leonard fight, we did several nights at Caesars palace and over the years I have performed on a regular basis, throughout the year but especially trying to do shows just before big fights cause it’s kind of fun. The Tuscany casino has a great music room, a very intimate room, I sing there on a regular basis and so on July 27th, which is 2 nights before the Spence-Crawford fight. I will be doing 2 shows there at 8 and 9:30 on Thursday night. No cover charge, just come on in and have some fun and we’re not only going to be doing music, but some boxing trivia and giving some prizes away that Showtime is providing, so we are having the best of both worlds. We can do some music and have a fun celebration of the fight that will be coming up a few days later, should be a fun evening.
Jenna J: Alright, let’s talk about the big fight. Errol Spence vs. Terence Crawford for the undisputed welterweight championship of the world. What are your thoughts going into this fight?
Al Bernstein: I think it’s a totally pick ’em fight. I’m happy to get a chance to call that fight. I think it’s going to be a really special fight to announce. It’s two fighters who each bring so much to the ring, even though each are in their early 30’s, heading towards their mid 30’s, but they fought well in recent fights. I don’t think they are degraded in terms of their skill sets, they’re good fighters, really good fighters. There is a pathway to victory for each man. You could see Spence maybe getting on the inside, doing all that great body work and ultimately prevailing in the fight simply by sheer will and volume of what he is doing on the inside. You could see Crawford who is the consummate boxer/puncher controlling distance, maybe landing some big counterpunch that changes the course of the fight a little bit and using his hands speed and maybe slightly better foot speed to control the geography of the ring and win. So there are multiple ways for both fighters to win this fight, that’s the beauty of it, we really really don’t know.
Jenna J: A lot of people have been comparing this fight to when Sugar Ray Leonard and Tommy Hearns met, with 2 undefeated champions facing each other at welterweight. What do you think of those comparisons?
Al Bernstein: I think they are apt to a degree. Typical of the times we live in, those fighters fought when they were much younger and this fight took a longer time to make and that’s kind of the way boxing has been much to its detriment, sometimes making us wait for these fights. Leonard and Hearns were willing to do that fight much earlier in their careers and they made a mega fight. Of course even though one of them lost, it hardly diminished the rest of their career. Tommy Hearns went on to have a brilliant and hall of fame career. But in terms of its overall importance, it’s big. We have the hindsight looking back at Leonard and Hearns and also knowing it also produced a very interesting fight.
Jenna J: I know you don’t make predictions for the fights you are calling, but if you had to lean in one direction or another and give a slight edge to either Spence or Crawford, which fighter do you give that edge to?
Al Bernstein: If you look at each man, Crawford probably has a slight edge in his ability to control the geography of the ring, probably be more of a classic boxer puncher. Errol Spence’s edge comes in his dogged offensive approach, the idea that he can wear you down with great body punching, constant pressure and make you make mistakes. I think those are the two paths to victory that those fighters have. And those are both important skill sets that they bring into the fight, the question is going to be which one can utilize those skill sets?