Bernstein on Dawson-Ward, Chavez-Martinez, Donaire

By Chris Robinson

July 7th is right around the corner, as that date marks the return of one of boxing’s premier prizefighters, Nonito Donaire. The sport’s reigning WBO junior featherweight champion, Donaire will meet up with IBF champion Jeffrey Mathebula in an HBO attraction from the Home Depot Center in Carson California.

There is a lot of intrigue surrounding Donaire, whether the discussion is on his tremendous skillset, how far up he can rise in weight, or his potential opponents down the road. One man who is extremely high on the Filipino-American star is Showtime analyst Al Bernstein, who went as far as to tell me recently that the only person who can beat Donaire is himself.

Bernstein and I touched on a variety of topics during a recent sit-down, including the fascination of a Julio Cesar Chavez Jr.-Sergio Martinez match, his reasons for favoring Andre Ward over Chad Dawson in their impeding clash, why he doesn’t prefer Jorge Arce as an opponent for Donaire, his take on the recent wave of fighters being caught with performance-enhancing drugs, and more.

This is part of what Al had to share…

Thoughts on Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. and his recent stoppage of Andy Lee…
“I thought it was really a good fight. Really a fun fight to watch. Both fighters fought well; Andy Lee fought as well as he could in that fight. Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. has become, to me, a fascinating fighter in many regards. He’s grown physically so much; he’s big for a middleweight. How long he can keep fighting at middleweight is questionable. He’s strong, he has very poor defense, terrific offense, and apparently a very good chin. That is exactly, what I think makes a fan-friendly fighter. The question will be, is that a winning prescription against A-level fighters?”

Sizing up a Chavez Jr. fight with Sergio Martinez…
“We’re going to know by round five I think, in the Chavez Jr.-Martinez fight. Because Martinez is going to land punches over the first five or six rounds against Chavez. Those stoppages you mentioned recently where he had to grind them out and get them out late in the fight, those fighters didn’t have the firepower that Chavez does. What’s going to be interesting is if Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. can survive those punches he’s going to get hit with in the first three or four rounds by Martinez and keep digging to the body like he does, keep the pressure on every second, you have to think if he can get that fight into round seven, eight or nine, it’s going to be a pretty interesting fight.”

Anticipating Andre Ward vs. Chad Dawson…
“I applaud both men for making it and a big, big plus for Andre Ward is that he got, he didn’t even have to work on it, Chad Dawson decided to come down and fight him at 168. I’m sure Chad Dawson did that for a couple of reasons. One, his 175-pound title is not on the line and he feels he can make 168; he’s done it before. But I think that’s very helpful to Andre Ward. Some people think it’s just going to be a tactical fight that’s not interesting. I don’t think so. I think they’ll engaged.”

Why he has to favor Ward…
“I went through the whole Super Six tournament doing Andre Ward’s fights and I think Andre Ward is the real deal. If I had to take these two fighters, Andre Ward and Chad Dawson, and I had to say who is going to find a way to win no matter what, when the chips are down, it’s hard for me not to pick Andre Ward.”

Highly impressed by Nonito Donaire…
“I think Nonito Donaire is the best lower-weight fighter in the world. The only question will be, as he’s getting up in weight here, when he’s at 126 facing somebody like a Yuriorkis Gamboa or somebody of that nature; even at 122 it looks like Guillermo Rigondeaux is a pretty interesting challenge for him. And I hope that fight is made. The only person that beats Nonito Donaire in these lower-weight classes is Nonito Donaire. Whether there’s a training glitch, a mental issue, or an injury or something. When he fights at his best, he has physical gifts and skill levels that I think are just too much for most of the fighters in those weight classes.”

Why a Jorge Arce match is just a placeholder fight…
“The thing about Arce is, he did reinvent himself and with winning the Vazquez fight, which was one of the great fights of that year; but to me, that fight is a just a placeholder. And Nonito Donaire is already 28 years old and he already had a title on the shelf when he had his contract disputes. It’s been year since he beat Vic Darchinyan and of course the other fight was Fernando Montiel. I think Nonito Donaire needs big fights. And in my opinion, the Arce fight, while it may be somewhat marketable, that’s another placeholder fight to get you to another fight.”

The recent wave of performance-enhancing drugs in boxing…
“It’s distressing. We’ve had several instances. We’ve had several fights cancelled for that reason and it is distressing. It raised some issues as to why some fighters are using performance-enhancing drugs. It’s across the board in most sports. Sports have had to deal with it; a lot sports have been aggressive in their treatment. In the last three weeks I have been talking to people and I’ve tried to get a better handle on it so I can report on it better as a boxing commentator; and I’m not of the opinion that the only testing that will prevent this is Olympic-style testing.”

READER’s NOTE: For an inside look at the world of boxing, including behind the scenes Pacquiao-Bradley coverage, exclusives from the Mayweather Boxing Club, videos with Bob Arum, Roger Mayweather, Roy Jones, Juan Manuel Marquez, Larry Merchant, Robert Garcia, Brandon Rios, Adrien Broner, Mikey Garcia, and other stars, please subscribe to Chris Robinson’s recently-launched Youtube page at CRHarmony YouTube Page

Chris Robinson is based out of Las Vegas, Nevada. He can be reached at [email protected],, and

User Comments and Feedback (Register For Free To Comment) Comment by Babalu11 on 06-27-2012

Julito is going to receive a lot of punishment but he inherited his dad chin, and he punches hard. I still think Martinez conditioning is going to pull through, he always slows down in the middle rounds to come back…

Comment by sabian615 on 06-27-2012

I was ringside for Williams-Martinez II, and watched that vicious hook that flattened Williams. However, I am not sure that Martinez can do that to Chavez. Chavez is so big and has a very good chin. If Paul Williams was…

Comment by flint on 06-27-2012

can't wait for martinez to put on a boxing clinic against this coward. chavez won't fight anybody at 168 and he comes in the ring weighing as much as a cruiser weight. hope sergio stops this arrogant coward

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