Danny Garcia and Erik
Morales square off in a rematch tonight for Garcia’s WBC and WBA junior welterweight
titles that will be yet another Golden Boy Promotions event televised by
Showtime. The fight will be the 14th of the 20 televised Showtime
events this year featuring either a Golden Boy or Al Haymon fighter. In fact,
four other upcoming cards will be headlined by boxers under the Golden Boy
banner as well.
This relationship, which has
brought the network bigger profile fights than years’ past, can be credited to
Showtime’s new boss, Stephen Espinoza. But after all the changes that have
occurred at Showtime in the past year, one thing at the network has remained
constant – Al Bernstein.
“In my professional career,
it’s surprised me that I’m not only involved in one sport and probably 80% of
my time has been boxing but I always seem the only one who doesn’t change on
shows,” Bernstein said.
Even with the increase in
high-profile fights for Showtime, it’s no secret that politics between Golden
Boy Promotions and Top Rank prevent some of the best fights from happening. Since
2007, tensions between Top Rank and Golden Boy have been high due to a contract
dispute with Manny Pacquiao. The companies continue to clash to this day, most
recently with failed negotiations for a Robert Guerrero and Timothy Bradley
Bernstein told Maxboxing he
understood why two companies wouldn’t want to do business with each other but
ultimately the feud doesn’t help the sport.
“The problem is it means in
certain weight classes, fans have almost no chance seeing fighters that truly
should be in the ring against each other,” he said. “Now it’s always over the
long haul in life that it’s been troublesome for two promoters to make fights
together but it’s been done more.
“At the end of the day, fans
are the losers.”
As for fixing the solution, Bernstein
doesn’t know an exact answer. Could networks like HBO and Showtime hold the
power and force promoters to play nice?
“It’s kind of like figuring
out peace in the Middle East,” Bernstein joked. “People think of networks as
the ultimate arbitrators that they can demand what they want. To some degree
they can and those are the people you can look to. I guess.”
Regardless, changes at
Showtime this year have gone beyond actual match-ups. Commentators Gus Johnson
and Antonio Tarver have departed for the time being due to Johnson’s FOX
commitments and Tarver’s suspension for performance-enhancing drugs.
Now Bernstein, who is in his
30th year of commentating and was inducted into the International
Boxing Hall of Fame in June 2012, shares his duties with Mauro Ranallo and a
rotating door of fighter analysts.
“During one stretch [at
ESPN], I had something like eight different partners in eight different weeks
and so that kind of prepared me for this current run at Showtime,” Bernstein
said. “What you need to be able to do in those situations - and I’ve developed
a knack for it - is to roll with the punches.”
Along with commentary
changes, the number of fights televised has changed. Tonight, Bernstein will be
calling the main event along with three other fights (Paul Malignaggi vs. Pablo
Cano, Hassan N’Dam N’Jikam and Randall Bailey vs. Devon Alexander), all title
clashes. It’s the third quadruple-header (along with June 2 and September 15) Showtime
has televised this year and appears to be the network’s newest trend, Bernstein
“The bottom line is, I think
it’s a simple matter of math,” Bernstein explained. “If you put on four fights
and you try to make four good matches, your chances of getting two good ones
out of them are much better than if you put on two fights