By Chris Robinson
When it comes to people in boxing, you will be hard-pressed to find anyone as unbiased or informative as Showtime analyst Al Bernstein.
A resident of Las Vegas, Nevada, Bernstein is right at home amidst the madness of fight week in the city as tonight's Floyd Mayweather-Miguel Cotto clash inches closer. Mayweather figures to have a definite fight on his hands as he looks to wrestle away the WBA junior middleweight belt from Cotto when they meet inside of the MGM Grand and I was curious for Bernstein’s thoughts on the matchup.
“It’s an interesting fight,” Bernstein would tell me recently. “I was just talking to Jeff Mayweather and he made an interesting point that I haven’t thought that much about. That Cotto, by nature, is a counter puncher and of course, Floyd Mayweather is the consummate counter puncher. So, somebody’s going to have to initiate the action.
“This is going to sound like a nutty statement, but if I’m Miguel Cotto, and I think this is true for anybody who fights Floyd Mayweather, I swear I would do anything possible to make him initiate the action,” Bernstein continued. “I always thought Oscar De La Hoya fought him totally the wrong way. He kept rushing it and Oscar isn’t even that kind of fighter to get himself all caught up in the infighting.”
Most of the pre-fight hoopla has been bestowed upon Mayweather yet Bernstein took a minute to tip his hat to Cotto, who has rebounded nicely from his November 2009 loss to Manny Pacquiao with three TKO victories over former champions while competing at 154 pounds.
“He reinvented himself and did it as he moved up in weight, which is pretty amazing,” said Bernstein of Cotto. “He did it while using several trainers, which is pretty amazing. And you have to give him a lot of credit for that. Did I think he was going to reach the point where he was going to have a giant mega fight again? Possibly, but it’s a little surprising.”
Having turned 35 years old in February, Mayweather admits that he can see the light at the end of the tunnel, noting that he will likely retire by the time he’s 37.
Floyd Jr. is still in incredible shape and full of bravado and Bernstein was asked what the difference is between a 35-year old Mayweather and the 25-year old version.
“Ironically, not that different,” Bernstein stated. “Because he’s always been an economical puncher. He’s a little more economical now in his punching and I think we haven’t really seen any drop off in his technique. It’s not really any different. He fights so sparingly that he’s not shopworn, but every time he comes back it’s from a layoff pretty much. He managers to still be sharp. I don’t know that he difference is that great. Partially, because the number of punches remains the same.”
As far as offering up any kind of prediction for the fight, Bernstein revealed what Miguel must do.
“I don’t see it being any kind of early stoppage in any way, shape, or form, unless somebody gets cut,” Bernstein continued. “I think it’s going to go rounds. It probably will be a distance fight and I think, at some point, Miguel Cotto is going to have to attack a little bit more and I think Mayweather is going to counter punch more.”
And there is also something that Bernstein feels Floyd must stray away from if he plans on being successful.
“There’s one thing think Floyd can’t do as much of as in recent fights, his temptation to back himself against the ropes,” Bernstein coined. “I believe that Cotto knows how to work a fighter when he’s on the ropes. Work the body, work the head. I think he’s a little more adept at that than some others. I think that’s one thing Floyd may have to stay away from in that fight.”