By Chris Robinson
If you are ever looking for a fair, objective opinion on anything related to the sport of boxing, Showtime analyst Al Bernstein will likely fill your void.
In a few weeks’ time, Bernstein will find himself sitting ringside inside of the MGM Grand in Las Vegas when WBA/WBC junior middleweight champion Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez faces off with Floyd Mayweather, the man widely regarded as the sport’s premier fighter.
The opinions on Mayweather-Alvarez have been hot and heavy, with the general consensus being that Floyd’s experience and vast array of skills will be a little too much for his 23-year old foe.
When assessing the matchup, Bernstein actually foresees a difficult task on both sides of the fence.
“I think it’s going to be a very competitive fight, I really do,” Bernstein would tell me recently. “Part of the reason is that Canelo Alvarez is one of the biggest, strongest guys that Mayweather has fought.”
Bernstein took a minute to reveal what Alvarez needs to do to have success against Mayweather.
“I think the trick to this fight and the key for Canelo is can he go to the body effectively against Mayweather and can he hurt him to the body?” asked Bernstein. “If he can, I think he has a very genuine chance in this fight.
“I think Canelo has to jab his way in,” Bernstein added. “Keep jabbing. Then, when he gets Mayweather on the ropes, keep cranking left hooks. Left hook to the body, double left hooks. The other thing he needs to do is, when Mayweather throws his right hand, he always steps to his right. Canelo’s got to throw that left hook to the body to stop his movement. That’s important.”
Bernstein feels that Floyd needs to simply stick to the basics in the face of his younger opponent.
“For Floyd, obviously it’s staying off the ropes, leading with the lead right hand,” stated Bernstein. “And I don’t think he should trade hooks with him.”
Mayweather is coming off of an impressive unanimous decision victory over Robert Guerrero this past May and is engaging in his quickest turnaround as a fighter in over ten years.
With such a short break in between fights, Mayweather was able to come to camp already in top form.
Bernstein is unsure whether or not this will ultimately play a role in how well Mayweather is prepared for Canelo, but doesn’t seem to think it will affect Floyd.
“The question is, and I was just talking to Floyd Mayweather Sr., his trainer, and the trick is, coming back at 36, quicker than you’ve ever come back, will it take a toll on your body or will it just make your sharper?” asked Bernstein. “He says it’s made him sharper. I wouldn’t doubt that, because Floyd Mayweather, he is a freak of nature. Nothing ever bothers him it seems and even at 36 he shows no signs of deterioration.”
During his media workout this past Tuesday in Big Bear, Calif., Alvarez admitted that he had been watching footage of Mayweather’s decision victory over Miguel Cotto from May of last year.
Despite falling on the scorecards, Cotto gave a great account of himself and had moments of success, especially when pinning Mayweather against the ropes.
Bernstein feels that it’s a good move for Alvarez to study Cotto’s effort and even went as far as to claim that Miguel had the remedy for success against one of sport’s all-time defensive wizards.
“I think that’s the blueprint,” said Bernstein. “Now, Floyd may change that, but that’s the blueprint for getting him or doing well against him. Cotto was able to push him against the ropes, or Floyd allowed that to happen. He was able to go to the body.
“Miguel Cotto has a good left hook and you have to have a left hook to beat Floyd Mayweather,” Bernstein continued. “If you don’t have a good left hook, you’ll never beat him. I think it’s good for him to look at that fight, to take some elements from it. He’s a different fighter from Cotto but I think it makes sense to look at that.”
Saul Alvarez media workout: Workout highlights as Alvarez pounds heavy bag, shadowboxes /Chepo Reynoso says Team Canelo has a philosophy on how to beat Floyd / 'Canelomania' hits Big Bear as Saul Alvarez arrives / Canelo sparring mate Karl Dargan says he can trouble Floyd with strength, power / Shane Mosley breaks down Danny Garcia vs. Lucas Matthysse