Mayweather v Canelo: Al Bernstein talks mind games, records and strategy

Phil Jay 11/07/2013

Respected broadcaster Al Bernstein has been talking to WBN this week to give his views on Floyd Mayweather v Saul Alvarez on the back of their recent and considerable promotional tour of the United States and Mexico.

Bernstein, who has featured behind the microphone on both sides of the Atlantic with Showtime and Channel 5 in the past few years, believes their wasn’t too much fuss from either fighter as they went though nine days of exhausting travel with just a few snipes along the way.

“There is not much gamesmanship early in the process from what I’ve seen and what I’ve been told from behind the scenes between Mayweather and Canelo,” Bernstein told World Boxing News.

“The comments have been pretty much what we would have expected from both fighters and I think the idea of those press events was spectacle and they did create that.”

Canelo, 22, and veteran world number one Mayweather have agreed to a catchweight deal, surprisingly enough on the side of the pound for pound king as the American vowed never to split the weight divisions in the past.

The fact that the fight is now going ahead at 152lbs shouldn’t have a major impact on the fight, although Bernstein suggests that it is just another way for Mayweather to keep a psychological edge over the young pretender.

“I think the catchweight was something physically and emotionally for Floyd to have in his back pocket,” he proposed.

“Canelo should be able to make 152 without too much problem, but it now is something he has to do after Floyd’s decision. So, he has to gear his training to it, and mentally he is aware of it.

“He has been forced to change something from his normal pre-fight comfort zone and If there ends up being a benefit, it can only be helpful to Floyd.”

Golden Boy CEO Richard Schaefer seemed determined to get the fight made despite calls by Mayweather for Alvarez to come down to welterweight and now that the fight is on, talk has switch more to the Mexican superstar’s chances of an upset.

Mayweather at 36 seems to still be in his prime as he proved once again by totally outclassing a seasoned champion in Robert Guerrero last May, with Bernstein convinced that Alvarez will test Showtime’s new big money signing despite the lack of depth on his record.

“Yes, Canelo does not have a big track record against top fighters,” pointed out Bernstein. “His win over Trout was a good one – though very close. Trout is a superb fighter and except for a faded Shane Mosley, not another B plus or A fighter on his resume.

“Alvarez would have fought Paul Williams but for the tragedy and that would have been a big test. Williams is someone Mayweather was never interested in fighting, but there is no question Canelo’s experience against really good fighters is limited.

“Saying that, since none of the fighters on his record are as good as Mayweather anyway, he was always going to be taking a step up on Sept. 14 whichever way you look at it.”

With the old saying; ‘You’re only as good as your last fight’ being quite relevant to Mayweather’s continued pulling power, Alvarez was judged for his dealings in overcoming Trout with more scepticism and Bernstein has attributed that to some new fangled tactics employed by the ‘Cinnamon’ one.

“Canelo did a fascinating thing in his fight with Trout – he did not attack,” he explained. “He stayed back and slipped punches and threw big punches from long range. He wanted to avoid being countered by Trout when he came in and showed great improvement in his defence.

“Whether he was aware of it or not, he threw very few punches and was fortunate to get a knockdown to help in the scoring and got some extra help from the judges (in beating Trout).

“Still, it was a bold and surprising move as everyone comes to Floyd. Could Canelo be audacious enough to again employ the Trout strategy?

“Trout admits it surprised him and made him do things he doesn’t usually do.

“The more expected strategy from Canelo is to try to push Floyd to the ropes and unload those left hooks to the body and the head. I think Canelo needs to be in a position to land body shots as that is his most important weapon in this fight.

“Floyd watched the Trout fight very carefully and he is aware that Canelo has that iron in his bag of tricks, but I don’t think that would bother Floyd because he is used to changing his game from attacker to defender quickly.

“Canelo does not have a huge height and reach edge either, something that would trouble Floyd in that scenario and I think at the end of the day, Canelo will come forward in a measured way – throwing combinations and relying on his new found defensive skills to, he hopes, avoid Floyd’s counters.

“Floyd needs to employ the exact same strategy as the Guerrero fight and lure Canelo in, land his shots, then wheel away from the ropes and reset.

“I think the youth and strength of Canelo will make this an intriguing match and test Floyd, but how much? – we will see.”

Floyd Mayweather v Saul Alvarez is live on Showtime PPV in the US and on BoxNation in the UK. To subscribe click on any BoxNation link or banner on the WBN website.