by David P. Greisman
ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. – Showtime boxing analyst Al Bernstein was at Caesar’s Atlantic City on Friday afternoon at the weigh-in for Saturday’s “Super Six” semifinal bout between Carl Froch and Glen Johnson.
He spoke with David Greisman of BoxingScene.com and Tim Starks of queensberry-rules.com about the fight and about the super-middleweight tournament.
Q: What are your thoughts on Froch vs. Johnson?
Bernstein: “It’s a really interesting fight. I think it’s a pick ‘em fight. I notice that Glen Johnson’s at 166. I don’t want to read too much into it, but did he lose too much weight? I don’t know. I know that they were at that weight fairly early. Did they get to weight too early? I don’t know. But the weight issue notwithstanding, I think it’s a fascinating style matchup. I think it should make for a very good fight.”
Q: Do you think it’s instructive, what we saw Froch did against Abraham, for what we’re going to see?
Bernstein: “Yes and no. His point is that’s the blueprint of how he should fight Glen Johnson. But Glen Johnson is so different in terms of the offensive input than Abraham. He’s the same build and wants to come forward, but Arthur Abraham isn’t really effective coming forward.
“Glen Johnson is [effective coming forward], and when he comes, he’s working constantly, he’s always throwing punches, and Glen Johnson can attack from angles. He doesn’t always, but he can.
“I don’t know if it’s instructive in terms of that [Froch] will be able to fight that way, but he wants to fight that way.”
Q: I’d be curious to hear your thoughts in terms of what you thought was going to happen way back when this tournament got started, compared to now.
A: “Everything has changed constantly in this tournament. I think it started when Truman was president, right? Everything has changed so many times. We were talking before that first fight.
“Somebody was saying ‘Who do you think is going to win the tournament?’ I thought, ‘Kessler is probably gonna win,’ because he’s the most experienced, and after he had the tune-up leading into it he looked fairly good.
“Everything has been so different. A lot of boxing insiders – not me – came to me and said Andre Ward is the dark horse. I got to give all of them credit. I had at least six or seven people, matchmakers and other people, even one of the matchmakers who shall remain nameless who’s with one of the other promoters. He said ‘We’re most worried about Andre Ward.
“So there was a feeling out there among certain experts. Like everybody, I thought Andre Ward was a good, young fighter, but I can’t say I said he’s the guy.
“We all knew that Abraham, Froch and Kessler could all be players in the tournament. Abraham, as it turns out, after the first win he fizzled out. But he did make it to the semifinals. In that sense we all knew that it was possible that one of the finalists could come from one that group. That may not be, if Glen Johnson wins.
“And Glen Johnson is a perfect example of how this tournament has morphed into all kinds of different things. Here’s this guy who wasn’t even a 168-pounder when this tournament started.”
Q: What could we see happen in Froch-Johnson?
“I do think it’s a very, very close fight. Honestly, you could give me five or six different scenarios, and any of them could be right.
“You could easily see Johnson getting old in this fight. It’s got to happen eventually. The weight could have an impact on him – did he overshoot in getting to 166? And he could just slow down. Froch could be on the outside doing what he does. You could see Glen Johnson luring him into a brawl on the inside and it not being beneficial to Froch.”
David P. Greisman is a member of the Boxing Writers Association of America. His weekly column, “Fighting Words,” appears every Monday on BoxingScene.com.
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